What should I ask Hollis Robbins?

I will be doing a Conversations with Tyler with her, no associated public event.  Here is part of her Wikipedia page:

Robbins is a noted expert in the field of nineteenth-century African American literature and recently co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. an anthology of African American women’s writing. Robbins’ work focuses primarily on nineteenth and early twentieth century black print culture; she is affiliated with the Black Press Research Collective and serves as an advisor to the Black Periodical Literature Project at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University

…Previously, Robbins edited several other books with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin (2006) and In Search of Hannah Crafts: Essays on The Bondwoman’s Narrative (2003). She also co-edited The Works of William Wells Brown (2006) with Paula Garrett and an edition of Frances E.W. Harper’s 1892 novel Iola Leroy.

In addition to now being Dean at Sonoma State University, she also has written on film music, the history of post offices, the gold rush, higher education, African-American sonnets, and numerous other topics.  So what should I ask her?


"Dr. Robbins chose Sonoma State because she was interested in the advantages of the publicly funded system. She feels that every student deserves to have a great education at a reasonable cost, something that the students at Johns Hopkins University were not offered. “These students were going to be artists and musicians, and they were going to be graduating with upwards of $100,000 in debt. That’s an enterprise that I just couldn’t continue with,” she said, “Sonoma State has the potential to be a national leader in publicly-funded education.” "


"She feels that every student deserves ...". I do get fed up with the number of people who claim a God-like ability to determine someone else's just deserts.

On the other hand, it's a great time-saver. I meet "so and so deserves" and read no further.

I'd ask her if she's heard of this guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Deslondes - quite a colorful figure. More here: https://www.workers.org/2015/02/06/louisianas-african-slave-revolt-of-1811/ (Communist site, but reliable when it comes to slavery, as the Soviets were always pretending to have solidarity with the US blacks)

Could ask whether teaching in China has informed a Straussian insight into 19th c. Black literature. https://artistmaterialist.com/2018/04/05/episode-4-american-literature-in-china/

Ask her about Chester Himes.

and Pushkin and his influence on the "cowboy poets" of the 1870s and 1880s, and Dumas, and Louis Armstrongs' fascinating parents, and Scott Joplin's aunts and uncles, and Gottschalk. all of which is 19th century and very interesting and fascinating and fun to talk about

What needs to be achieved so that a protected class no longer needs to be protected?

That’s rayciss!

A Supreme Court with real and honest judges. A "protected class"
is unconstitutional and discriminatory and yet somehow our best and brightest judges fail to understand this.

You can spit shine a turd and it's still a turd.

Considering that the comment was in regards to how this comment section is cleaned up, you are spot on,

What role has Sonoma State played in responding to the massive displacement of homeless encampments by Russian River flooding? With nearly 4,000 acres in real estate holdings and an enormous $120 million performing arts center and less than 10,000 students, shouldn't Sonoma State. be making its resources available to serve the homeless community?

Two thirds of Sonoma State students are female. Why has it failed so miserably at inclusiveness?

What would be the best method for distribution of reparations?

I have officially decided to support Mr. Rees-Mogg. I think he should be the new leader of the Briton people.

How can aporia be untangled from contradiction. What is repressed when we fall upon contradiction. All marginal revolution folks are bloggers. Why is poetry considered a “break” from perception when prose is mechanistic, or what is considered more responsible in fiction writing – Author-narrator-balance or character-balance. For example, in Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Chaconne one can hear his Cello G-Major, Stravinsky, etc, a chaconne, it carries a libretto (is bilingual). It is not carried by winds but an undertone.

Still polishing, it seems.

relationship status?

if thats not a good one how about
is r. douthat (harvard&nyt) really blaming assisted euthanasia of adolescent psychiatric patients in the netherlands on a failure of
this smells like postmodernism not liberalism

I would be curious to hear her recommendations of favorite 19th century texts by African American authors. I’d especially be curious to know about memoirs / works of fiction outside the genre of slave narratives (though I’d be curious to hear about those too).

Over/under on Nella Larsen

Since Hollis Robbins works in the field of blacketty-black-black-blackness, I assumed she herself was black.

Imagine my surprise when I saw her picture at her Wikipedia page:


If there’s a non-white in the woodpile of her ancestry, it’s certainly not obvious from her picture!

But if the H.N.I.C. (AKA Henry Louis Gates) says it’s OK for someone no more black than Rachel Dolezal to work in the field of blacketty-black-black-blackness, then it’s OK!

Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Head Negro In Charge


Please ask about the "Uncle Remus" stories and if it is possible to recover the originals. Br'er Rabbit is one of the great tricksters and for those of us old enough to have heard the stories, "the briar patch" is a useful shorthand in a number of situations.
Even more often I am reminded of the "tar baby" story which has no acceptable equivalent fable that I know of. Is there any cautionary tale about blind anger that is even half as vivid?
How do we restore these fables?

Why has history been so much more successful at recruiting women & people of color as scholars than economics?

Under/overrated: William Wells Brown, Josiah Henson, Harriet Ann Jacobs, David Walker, Douglass's The Heroic Slave.

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