Novelist Cantor, President Roth Speak on Middle-Class Politics

Corrina KerrNovember 30, 20092min

Wesleyan’s Sociology Department, The Hoy Fund and The Wesleyan Writing Programs sponsored “Martyrdom, Mirth, and Mayhem in Middle-Class Politics: A Conversation with Novelist Jay Cantor and President Michael S. Roth,” Nov. 18 in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. Cantor is the author of Great Neck, The Death of Che Guevara and Krazy Kat, along with two collections of non-fiction essays, The Space Between: Literature and Politics and On Giving Birth to Ones Own Mother. Cantor, a MacArthur Prize Fellow, is professor of English at Tufts University. President Roth and Cantor discussed their mutual admiration for late Norman O. “Nobby” Brown, professor emeritus of humanities at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Brown taught at Wesleyan after World War II and chaired the Classics Department.

Cantor was one of Brown’s graduate students and President Roth was greatly influenced by Brown’s Life Against Death and Love’s Body. Roth shared that one of Brown’s memorable statements was “You shouldn’t receive your education, you should find it,” therefore, when he taught in the Public Affairs Center in the 1950s he expected students to find him before he could start class. The speakers also discussed the influence of education, class, Jewishness and geography (both are from Long Island, Cantor from Great Neck and Roth from Massapequa) on writing.

Here are some photos of the event: (Photos by Stefan Weinberg ’10)