I'm beginning to have one foot in both of my worlds now. Obviously I'm still physically here in South Africa and will be for another week. At the same time, for UTPB's second summer session I am teaching a graduate seminar, "LBJ's America," that started last night. For this first week I am conducting the class via email, and they have a host of assignments that they need to be responsible for, including getting going on their final projects. I also have a proxy conducting class for me, so all of my bases are covered.
While my obsessions for the past month have been almost exclusively tied to the World Cup and larger questions about sports and politics and the history of soccer in South Africa I am now also thinking about LBJ, both as a symbol for the culture wars but also in terms of his place in modern American history. The first book we are reading is Robert Dallek's one-volume biography of LBJ, a truncated version of his two-volume masterpiece. The title of his second volume, "Flawed Giant," which covers the period from when the big Texan became Vice President through his death pretty accurately sums up Johnson both as a man and as a politician. We will be exploring the 1960s, and especially the period from 1963, through the lens of one of the era's dominant figures.
In the meantime, the semi-finals of the World Cup commence today. As the rate of games slows, South Africa is slightly less World Cup besotted. As usual you can read more here.