Category Archives: obituaries

September 2, 2012, 2:51 pm

The Indispensable Alexander Saxton

Alexander Saxton, 1919=2012Perhaps because editors thought it would be appropriate to print a full obituary on Labor Day weekend, I only became aware today that historian, laborer, novelist and activist Alexander Saxton passed over on August 20. He was 93, and “died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound” because, as daughter Catherine Steele wrote, Saxton believed that “the terms of his life were his to decide.”

Read Paul Vitello’s story about Saxton here.

Like fellow historian David Montgomery, Saxton became a scholar when McCarthyism ended his career as a novelist and a labor organizer. He was one of the first historians to think seriously about how racial whiteness coalesced as an identity for European-descended working-class men in California; and how the demonization of immigrants from the Asian diaspora by nativist elites served the politics of capitalism in the Western United States.

I read Saxton’s 

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April 13, 2012, 4:26 pm

What Kind of Times are These?

Anonymous, Adrienne Rich (c. 1975), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-103575

Today’s guest blogger, Jennifer Finney Boylan, is professor of English at Colby College. She is the author of 13 books, including Stuck in the Middle With You: Parenthood in Three Genders, which will be published by Random House/Crown in 2013, along with the revised 10th-year anniversary edition of her memoir, She’s Not There. Boylan’s blog, There from Here is at, and she may be reached at


Last week, as prelude to an evening of poetry, my colleague Peter Harris– a writer and a professor here at Colby College–gave a short reading from Adrienne Rich’s “What Kind of Times Are These.” “She burned through the fog that I lived in like an acetylene torch,” he…

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December 1, 2011, 10:52 pm

Going Postal: A Few Random Thoughts At The End of Term

I was at the Zenith post office today, mailing a large box of books to a former advisee now in his first year of graduate school.  As usual, I had to wait in line.  Students, who have little access to ordinary household supplies, have a tendency to purchase a box at the post office for whatever they are sending and then pack the box right at the counter.  This means that when a personal appearance at the PO is called for, and you don’t feel like driving downtown, it is usually a good idea to bring something to read:  each customer ahead of you can take a while to finish up.  When I got to the front of the line, the Mistress of Post rang up my shipment at the Media Mail rate, and I held out my debit card. (more…)

September 14, 2010, 7:13 pm

A Very Sad Day

Once again a student has died violently at Zenith, this time by her own hand. She was found yesterday, badly burned, and she passed on today at Bridgeport Hospital.

You never, ever, get used to it. Ever.

April 19, 2010, 1:29 pm

Sharon Sievers, Historian and Women’s Studies Activist at Cal State- Long Beach, May 27 1938-April 5 2010

Every once in a while something crosses my desk which seems to deserve a broader audience. This is one of those items, received over H-Net from Janet Goodwin of H-Japan:

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Sharon Sievers on April 5, 2010 after a long illness in Long Beach, California. Sharon was the chair of the History Department (for over twelve years!) and sometime director of Women’s Studies for forty years at California State University Long Beach. In the early 1980s, together with the ACLU she helped save the newly-nascent Women’s Studies program by suing the university which was bowing to public pressure from neo-conservatives in the area. Eschewing more money and fame at more prestigious universities, she chose to remain at CSULB to serve as friend and mentor
to thousands of young women and men who otherwise might not have remained in college or gone on to…

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