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Christopher Hitchens

December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens died yesterday. Say what you will about the person, his writing, and his ideas, nobody can say he wasn’t influential. Though I didn’t know him, I did spend ten or twelve hours in the same room with him. Hitchens co-taught one of my favorite graduate school classes at The New School for Social Research, Cultural Criticism, which investigated “the power of the written word—how writers use language to inform, provoke, amuse, inspire and move us” (from the syllabus). Melissa Monroe taught the majority of the sessions and handled all the assignments and grading. Hitchens swept in for discussions on Orwell, Twain, Mencken, and himself. He was combative, knowledgeable, passionate, unyielding, and brilliant. What I remember most clearly, however, doesn’t stem from his take on the material, but from his willingness to head to the bar with us grad students post-class. I don’t believe that fact carries more weight now than it did before. Instead, I just remember a man, considered a giant intellect with far-reaching notoriety and droves of detractors, who loved ideas and literature so much he wanted to continue the discussions beyond the classroom, with whomever was willing. That was a trait shared by most of my New School professors, and he, much to my surprise and delight, was no different.

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2 Comments
  1. Cheryl Wilder permalink

    What a great experience. And I agree, it;s all about the continued discussion, outside the boundaries of the classroom. One more reason to love the low-res program (as mentioned in the next post).

    Like

  2. What a wonderful opportunity, to think and talk and yes, have a drink, with one of the most fascinating minds of our time!

    Like

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