DeLoggio Education Consulting
The Summertime Blues
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Cultural Enrichment via Wiki
(This list was our Christmas gift to applicants in 2009.)
Preparing yourself for law school is more than getting an LSAT score and a new laptop. One of my students found a list of 5,000 words and phrases entitled "What Literate Americans Know." Much of it functions as a vocabulary list -- amnesty, amnesia, amino acids. Since I'm more interested in the gaps in your historical knowledge, I've chosen several hundred names of people, places, and catch-phrases. Some of them are fictitious, some are ancient, a few (like Elvis) should be obvious. But all of them have some historical significance beyond the obvious one.
Why do you need to know this stuff? Because one day, if you're very lucky, you'll meet a senior partner at a law firm -- and he'll know these things. And if you don't, you may join the ranks of the unemployed. A poor background in Cultural Capital often hurts minority and disadvantaged lawyers. If you can't converse with well-educated clients, what good are you?
Despite its importance, I think over the years four or five of you have looked at it. When I reviewed it recently, I could see why: it's just too daunting. And where on earth are you going to find W.E.B. DuBois anyway?
Well, that answer's easy these days: Wiki knows everything! But there's still that daunting disarray. So I decided to spoon feed you nice, manageable chunks, already linked to their Wiki pages. That also gives us the advantage of being able to add throughout the years without worrying too much about the ABCs.
Our Wiki Challenge
So without further ado, here's the "what the heck,
why not look?"
Alexander_Solzhenitsyn is too famous a Soviet writer and often political prisoner to ignore.
One of my film buffs says we must know the "Big 5" and "Little 3" studios.
Now, returning to the
original 600-plus list:
|Between the election of FDR and the election of JFK , the world was in quite an uproar. Having been born and raised in the United states, I of course know more of the U.S. version of events, and they include the following 25 items:|
|Adolf Eichmann||Auschwitz||Ayn Rand||Benito Mussolini||George Orwell|
|Herman Goering||Cold War||Berlin Wall||George M. Cohan||Joseph Stalin|
|Joseph Goebbels||Dachau||Hiroshima||Leni Riefenstahl||Paul Robeson|
|Winston Churchill||Vichy France||Kamikaze||Lillian Hellman||Pearl Harbor|
|Nuremberg Trials||Eleanor Roosevelt||Dwight
|Senator Joseph McCarthy||Julius & Ethel
|While we were busy singing “Over There” (you want to hear it?) and “The House I Live In,” (this one’s vintage Sinatra, folks, so don’t miss it! ) a lot of people were singing other songs in other languages. I don’t know the songs, but I can name 25 people, places, and events that were perhaps more interesting in their countries than James Cagney .|
|T.E. Lawrence||Carl Jung||Boat People||Alfred Dreyfus||Common Market|
|Chou En-Lai||Cossacks||Ho Chi Minh||Emiliano Zapata||Mao Tse-Tung|
|Vladimir Lenin||Karl Marx||Eiffel Tower||Friedrich Engels||Mohandas Gandhi|
|the Pogroms||Emile Zola||Kilimanjaro||White Russians||College of Cardinals|
|After all that history, we arrived at the period that we old folks consider “the present.” You know: the Beatles , Jimi Hendrix , LSD , Flower Power , the Viet Nam war . Janis Joplin, Janis Ian , and Grace Slick …and these 35 other people and places.|
Okay, now that we’ve covered the general history of the world in 300 words, we’re going to look at those areas that only certain people care about. Who are those certain people? We don’t know. They might be the people who interview for Cravath , or one of the most favored clients at Milbank . They might be your supervising attorney at your summer internship, or your father’s second cousin, the judge. I wouldn’t bother you with them, but I’ve seen people lose jobs over them.
|This is another “where do you draw the line?” category. Certainly Buddha is a philosopher, but he’s famous as a religious leader. Martin Luther King is thought of as a shrewd political activist, so people forget that he was also deeply philosophical. Is Ayn Rand a philosopher or a novelist? My philosophy professors gave a very different answer from my Objectivist friends. Nonetheless, it’s a list of 25 names that will spark conversation in virtually any educated circle.|
|Aristotle||Confucius||Ayn Rand||D.H. Lawrence||Friedrich Engels|
|Carl Jung||Nihilism||John Locke||John Stuart Mill||Francis of Assisi|
|Karl Marx||Sappho||Machiavelli||Vladimir Lenin||Thomas Hobbes|
|Plato||Socrates||Francis Bacon||W.E.B. DuBois||Mahatma Gandhi|
If you thought some of the other lists were arbitrary, wait'll you see this one! I could triple it without blinking -- I am, after all, the woman with 7,000 songs on her mp3 player. But I've tried to stick with my theme — who do the senior partners know? That still took me a bit afield, and could easily have taken me further, but I applied my other rule: the goal isn't to teach you everything, it's to teach you something. So, without further apology, here's a list of 35 names you might want to recognize.
There was abslutely no way to choose one person to represent the music industry; even if I were willing to name, say, Billy Joel, how would I choose a song? But then I remembered the song they all sang:
|Al Jolson||Mario Lanza||Bessie Smith||Bette Midler||Antonio Vivaldi|
|Bob Dylan||Billy Holiday||Enrico Caruso||Duke Ellington||George Gershwin|
|Franz Liszt||Elvis Presley||Frank Sinatra||Claude Debussy||Dionne Warwick|
|Woody Guthrie||Josephine Baker||Louis Armstrong|
|Scott Joplin||Eddie Cantor||Roberta Flack||Frédéric Chopin||Marian Anderson|
Artists represent another endless category: Hitler painted roses , after all. And Marcel DuChamp said, "If it sells, it's art." But again I went for popular names of a certain age group, and gave you 30 talking points should the conversation wander to the other Met (the one without the music) . (Here's the one with the music)
Jennifer McCurdy's porcelains are so exquisite that I'm
including a link
for those who want more.
|Michelangelo||Art Deco||Frank Lloyd Wright||Van Gogh||Art Nouveau|
|Impressionists||Cubism||Leonardo da Vinci||Mona Lisa||Diego Rivera|
|Andrew Wyeth||El Greco||Grandma Moses||Botticelli||Edgar Degas|
|Auguste Rodin||Fresco||Norman Rockwell||Bas Relief||Louis Tiffany|
|Salvador Dali||Goya||Peter Paul Rubens||Surrealism||Pablo Picasso|
|Henri Matisse||Renoir||Georgia O'Keeffe||Rembrandt||Paul Gauguin|
|The title was easy -- the definition, impossible. Do we include epics to epigrams ? Ancient to Post-Modern? Drama, poetry, newspaper features? And what about Dear Abby and Miss Manners (or, for the guys, Dave Barry and Gene Weingarten )? So we just shrugged our shoulders and tried to create a potpourri of writers of all sorts. I drew the line at murder mysteries and Harlequin Romances , but there's probably at least one of everything else in this list of 45 writers.|
|Erma Bombeck||Walt Whitman||Mark Twain||Norman Mailer||William Faulkner|
|Robert Frost||Marcel Proust||Victor Hugo||Lillian Hellman||Langston Hughes|
|Jane Austen||H. L. Mencken||Oscar Wilde||Carl Sandburg||Gina Barecca|
|J.D. Salinger||Aldous Huxley||Jules Verne||Joan Didion||F. Scott Fitzgerald|
|Isabel Allende||Eugene O'Neill||Franz Kafka||Anton Chekhov||Ernest Hemingway|
|George Elliot||George Orwell||T.S. Elliot||Damon Runyan||Edgar Allan Poe|
|Ralph Ellison||Garry Trudeau||Alice Walker||James Michener||Laura Z. Hobson|
|Virginia Woolf||Dorothy Parker||H.G. Wells||Rudyard Kipling||Ambrose Bierce|
You know who these people are; they’re the ones who, when mentioned in conversation, cause older people to respond to the blank look on your face by saying, “You mean you’ve never heard of…?” Then they either politely explain or kindly change the subject of conversation. And you’ve lost – the job, the seat in the law school, the date, the contract, the whatever it was that you lost for want of a nail .
You may notice that some of these people and places are on other lists as well. Sinatra is a singer, but he’s also a folk icon whom you must know, especially if you’re within 500 miles of New Jersey. T.S. Eliot wrote the poems that became the musical “Cats ,” but no one will think you’re ill-educated for failing to know that. (On the other hand, knowing could land you a summer internship.) Some of these references are fictitious; others are real, but the reason people use them isn’t (like Timbuktu, for example).
One reference that seems to be lost on most people under 30, and is really essential to the culture of the Western World, is Judy Garland . To tell you that she was "Dorothy" in "The Wizard of Oz" is to show you one facet of a diamond. But which other facet to show? Luckily, I found a two-fer: Judy Garland sings a duet with Barbra Streisand . Now that's a pair of legends!
|Elvis Presley||Doonesbury||Edgar Cayce||Camelot||the Jolly Roger|
“From here to Timbuktu.” As I mention above, Timbuktu is a real place. “Ivy League:” you thought it referred to a quality education, not a football league. Well Stanford will give an excellent, awesome, superb, education, but not an Ivy League one. It’s in the PAC-12 . So figure out not just what these 30 items are, but why people say them.
[A temple in Tumbuktu, Mali]
|Bible Belt||Ides of March||Camelot||Occam's Razor||Boston Tea Party|
|Filibuster||Off-Broadway||Catch-22||Nouveau Riche||Custer's Last Stand|
|Kamikaze||Pandora's Box||7 Sisters||Oedipus Complex||Mason-Dixon Line|
|Emily Post||Pyrrhic Victory||Deja Vu||Oracle of Delphi||Harlem Renaissance|
|Q.E.D.||Golden Rule||E = MC2||Rock of Gibraltar||Sword of Damocles|
|Gallup Poll||Yin and Yang||Hara Kiri||The Prodigal Son||Cultural Resources|
Some feminists, like Emmeline Pankhurst , are famous simply for being feminists. Others, like Alice Walker , are famous for their writing, which (not coincidentally) covers ground-breaking feminist turf. A third group were just stubborn women who refused to be deterred, thereby becoming legends, like Rosa Parks
A fourth group of famous women, whose fame is based on behavior which is not particularly associated with feminism, like Marilyn Monroe , have been omitted. But such women are included in other lists; Marie Antoinette is in the section on Imperialism, and Typhoid Mary is in the catch-phrases. Besides, given my own feminist background, I had to work hard to keep this list under 50. (And yes, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein are adjacent deliberately.)
|Isadora Duncan||Judy Chicago||Colette
||Elizabeth Blackwell||Amy Lowell|
|Leona Helmsley||Hillary Clinton||Emma Goldman||Florence Nightingale||k.d. lang|
|Margaret Mead||Annie Oakley||Emma Lazarus||Helen Gurley Brown||N.O.W.|
|Martha Stewart||Alice B. Toklas||Gertrude Stein||Jacqueline Cochran||Lucy Stone|
|Phyllis Wheatley||Betty Friedan||Gloria Steinem||Katherine Graham||Mary Cassat|
|Rita Mae Brown||Lucretia Mott||Myra Bradwell||Geraldine Ferraro||Willa Cather|
|Oprah Winfrey||Shirley Chisholm||Twyla Tharp|
|Louisa May Alcott||Sally Gearhart||Susan Brownmiller||Angela Davis|
|Isabella Stewart Gardner||Zora
Some will argue that this is the most important list, because sports is what everyone knows. Others will argue that this is the most useless list, because sports is what everyone knows. A third group will argue that this is the most useless list because it doesn't include the time-honored male-dominated team sports that we have come to know and either love or hate.
So I admit: these are the also-rans -- or at least the rans. They are the track and field legends, tennis players, the swimmers and divers; they are the skiers and skaters, long-jumpers and discus-throwers, who are so often ignored in favor of those Damn Yankees . I chose fifty from a tradition that spans over 1800 years, so of course I neglected your favorites. I'm sorry. Send them in to me, and we'll gather them for the anniversary page. But if they're members of a televised team sport, they have to be real legends, not a mere Pete Rose .
|Olympics||Babe Didrikson||Al Oerter||Brian Boitano||Arthur Ashe|
|Gabriela Sabatini||Jimmy Connors||Babe Ruth||Eddie Arcaro||Jim Thorpe|
|Ingemar Stenmark||Wilma Rudolph||Carl Lewis||Irina Rodnina||Chris Evert|
|Jackie Robinson||Althea Gibson||Kip Keino||Jesse Owens||Eric Heiden|
|Serena Williams||Greg Louganis||Jack Kelly||John McEnroe||Janet Evans|
|Venus Williams||Peggy Fleming||Bobby Riggs||Joe DiMaggio||Janet Lynn|
|Billy Jean King||Robin Cousins||Jim Ryun||Dick Fosbury||Mark Spitz|
|Dorothy Hamill||Frank Shorter||Steffi
||Edwin Moses||Bob Beamon|
|Evelyn Ashford||Mickey Mantle||Bob Seagren||Andre Agassi||Joan Benoit|
We threw in the towel here. There's just no way we could pull a list of movies you should know. Yeah, sure, everyone can name Casablanca and the African Queen. But what about The Miracle Worker, or To Kill a Mockingbird: do we have to specify editions and years? Do we include musicals? comedies? documentaries?
So we've cheated; we let somebody else do the work. I did make sure, though, that most of my favorites were represented -- a straw poll of one, granted, but it IS my web page :)
Click here for an astonishingly exhaustive list of movies.
Best Actors -- Female and Male
The best list of the best 100 actors included only men; then about an inch away was a link for the 50 best women. I liked the lists way better than some others I looked at, so you get double the actors or double the work, depending on your point of view. Note that the list of women gives you the bonus of listing movies. A feminist could argue that this implies that the men are always good, while the women are only notable on occasion, but I'm not feeling that feminist today. Instead, I'm feeling like I got a free list of movies to browse and see what I've missed. I hope you feel that way too
||The 50 best men|