25 January 2012

Well [Spoken] Wednesdays: Dr Stewart edition

As I mentioned last week, Dr Stewart and Prof Westblade were the teachers who most shaped my view of the world while I was at Hillsdale. Dr Stewart also claims the title of Professor Most Taken: that is, I enrolled in more of his classes than those of anybody else.

As an eager college freshman, I found myself in his Western Heritage course along with the rest of the freshmen in the Honors Program. The upperclassmen, upon discovering this, promised us great things. We were not disappointed. Dr Stewart's specialty is making your understanding of history and civilized society go BOOM. Then he dumps a lot of primary source documents on your head and asks what you think of that, buster? Were the Dark Ages so very dark? Was Greek democracy so very ideal? Was the British monarchy so very oppressive? Is neo-conservatism so very smart? Not so much. And then you write a paper.

Dr Stewart doesn't give exams except when the provost makes him. In protest, his exams generally consist of A) jokes, B) strawberries with Nutella, and C) ridiculously easy identification questions. But lest you think that his classes are cakewalks, I'll tell you about the dreaded Map Quizzes. In Western Heritage, you get a featureless outline of Europe and are required to draw in certain countries, locate certain rivers, place certain cities. The same thing in American Heritage, just with a blank outline of the USA. I'd never studied geography so hard. Besides that, he is no pushover with papers. I'd make two or three trips to his office for each one, and only earned A's after obsessive polishing.

He taught me more about writing than my English professors did, though. (At least until I got to Dr Somerville.)

The marginalia of Dr H. David Stewart. I wasn't able to find my notes from Western Heritage, though, which stinks because that was the first class I had with him. :(

American Heritage
"You don't conquer the world by accident."
"With God as my witness, I will sell you this cow for some magic beans."
"Statistically speaking, you're going to be nine-tenths dead."
"I'll let you borrow my leech if you give me your land."
"He won the genetic lottery."
"We're not going to enslave the children."
"It's not mean if it's accurate."
"I'm value-neutral now."
"At this point, make vague reassuring noises."
"Always tax poor people. They don't have much money but they don't have much power either."
"If you're dead, you aren't committing treason."
"I don't believe in democracy."
"Andrew Jackson is a bad, bad man."
"You're so silly. Nobody cares about constitutionality anymore!"
"And I'm going to keep enlightening you until you agree with me."
"When I first moved to Paris . . . which sounds sexier than it is."
"They don't do quiet in France."
"You can't complain if you don't have a better suggestion."
"I love it when I accidentally answer a question."
"I suppose I could be nice in a theoretical sense."
"I can be both nice and lazy!"
"You want a really fine pastry, go to a Frenchman. If you want to conquer Eastern Europe, go to a German."
"Never insult an Italian. He'll kill you."
"People have always been stupid."
"Have people bring you food. I approve of that idea vigorously."
"Cows are not the sharpest animals in your barn."
"I suppose that is inspiring in a perverse sort of way."
"Deception and lies aren't quite the same thing."
"I hereby give my country away."
"Let's make you king of the world."
"You are, in effect, my slaves."
"You all aren't dead, unless this is some bizarre form of Purgatory."
"What are the Olympics really about? Kicking commie butt."
"Communists can dance Swan Lake better than you."
"In America, there's stuff to loot!"
"Empower your children-- lie on the census!"
"Idiot is not a racial condition."
"I hate two-eared people."
"Women don't do thinking stuff. Women do feeling stuff."
"Get post-Christian. That's where the action is!"
"Now go to stores and pretend to shoplift."
"Swallow, then talk. Order of operations."
"And I will exploit your sorry butts."

Mystery Literature
"They pay me to know everything."
"If there's a conspiracy look for the guy with the moustache."
"Nobody wants to read normal stuff."
"Coincidence is really lame."
"There's some sophistication in all the stupid."
"Fear makes people kind."
"That seems like a whitewash for coincidence."
"They do it even worsly."
"You are in the wrong class, ma'am."
"The man pulled a sermon on me!"
"You can all be really grumpy if you want to."
"Boys always screw things up."

History of England
"This is hugely non-trivial!"
"A pretty girl will sell more things than an ugly girl. That's reality."
"You don't stay a monarch very long if you believe the best of everybody."
"There are all sorts of authorities that it would be fun to abuse."
"Killer sheep!"
"Let's oppress us some monasteries."
"If there's anything you can't call Spain, it's Protestant."
"Now we're talking in wildly general terms."
"No, we are not going to discuss what that word means. Now let's go fight the Spanish."
"The carpet in the foyer must be red! I'm going to another church!"
"Marrying a Spaniard is a bad idea."
"God loves you more in the morning."
"Old people don't riot. Rioting is a young man's game."
"You are a pimple on history."
"Look, here are people mattering!"
"Unfortunately for King James, no one liked him. So he went on vacation to France."
"Everybody can run for king."
"There is no privacy in the royal world."
"Excellent. I'm going to exploit her womanness."
"This is a giant shut-your-face."
"All right, let's burn London."
"Get your arch-libertarian ideas out the window."
"There are no naked women in coffee houses."
"You're a gentleman if you're a gentleman."
"These are little pigs in baby blankets, not caterpillars!"
"You can have a cupcake if you give a really good answer in class today."
"We're only godlike, not ultra-godlike."
"Imminent death tends to make people consider things they had not considered before."
"History is full of funny stuff. That's why you study history: to laugh at people."
"Peasant, run over there and get us gold!"
"You can't just go buy an army at Walmart."
"We're dumb Americans so we don't know what words mean."
"Don't get your caveman history from TV."
"Clearly he's a man slut. Just look at what he's wearing."*
"Now we can read lightbulb ads. Hurray!"
"You can lie with anything."
"I'm not selling all my ducks!"
"Okay, would someone who is not a moron like to answer the question?"
"Let's do the weave."
"Railroads are not unrelieved wonderfulness."
"I'm an American. I don't like prudence."
"We've got to shoot him! We don't want to say sorry."
"So when the war is over and your honeypot comes home . . ."
"If you make fun of the way I pronounce 'England' I might make fun of the way you write papers, and which one of us will be more heartbroken in the end?"
"I gotta live until I'm 112! My son won't move out!"
"Methodists don't like getting hit by cats."
"There are much better stupid questions than that."
"Maybe rational men can solve their problems, but men aren't always rational."
"He stubs his toe on objectivity."
"There's another significant principle running around."
"Never name your enemy. Just make them anti-you."
"Every election is the most epic one in history."
"Ah, that's typical election puffery."
"The only toasters in my empire will be the ones I push into your bathtubs."
"I think it would be cool to have a museum of fakes."
"Do I need these hippie earls?"
"Personality is a package for ideas."

Western Heritage Revisited 
"A million dollars is not the same as having my dad."
"I will find you and take all your chickens."
"You are easier to replace than I am."
"All the founders would be in my church if they were alive today."
"I'm going to be an atheist Babylonian."
"Elephants would make great horses."
"Life isn't as tidy after the Reformation."
"I'm pretty sure I'm the embodiment of historical consciousness."
"Sometimes your friends need a good kick in the shins."
"Not all Calvinists are Calvinists."
"You'll be the special committee for the suspension of laws."
"Western culture lacks a moral will."
"Capitalism is just another materialist ideology. We need Christ."

*This in reference to a hapless 18th-century gentleman:


  1. My favorite marginalia yet. Stewart classes were the best!

  2. Ahaha! I got As without visiting with papers several times!

    I feel I must post that to get back at you for getting As from Somerville. ;) I know it really matters these years later.

  3. I won't be able to sleep tonight!!