Visiting Scholar Louis Mazzari, Ph.D., Reflects on Teaching American History—In Istanbul

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Georgian Court University welcomes Dr. Louis Mazzari, an assistant professor of American Studies at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is presenting two lectures—one on American writer Philip Wylie on Tuesday, Sept. 30 and another talk on Teaching in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 1. Reservations should be made through GCU’s Office of Conferences and Special Events.

“Last semester I met Louis Mazzari at an American Studies conference in The Hague,” said GCU Professor of History Scott Bennett, Ph.D. “He is a dynamic, articulate, and compelling speaker. Without exaggeration, he is among the finest academic speakers I’ve ever heard.” Currently on sabbatical, Dr. Mazzari is researching a biography of writer Philip Wylie, whose papers are at Princeton University.

Dr. Mazzari’s lectures

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE: PHILIP WYLIE AND THE CLASH OF THE MODERN
Dr. Louis Mazzari will discuss the writer’s life, work, and significance in a slide-enhanced presentation.

Location: GCU Arts & Science Center, Little Theatre
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 6:45 pm
Cost: FREE; reservation required; Call 732.987.2263 or email specialevents@georgian.edu

Philip Wylie (1902-71), a prolific and once famous American modernist writer, is now largely forgotten. Wylie spanned the spectrum of media and the genres of writing available to moderns in America—in books, magazines, newspapers, radio, movies, and television, for Field and Stream and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, for Hollywood musicals and radio plays with Orson Welles. With Harold Ross, he helped launch the New Yorker, and he was a decades-long feature in the popular Saturday Evening Post. He published on atomic physics and Soviet politics, grim psychological jeremiads, popular fishing stories, pulp romance, and science fiction; he wrote screenplays for horror films, Hollywood soap operas, and psychological thrillers. And apart from all these, he interpreted Jungian psychoanalysis for an American audience—and Jung himself called Wylie his most persuasive champion in English.

An iconoclast, Wylie criticized religion, nationalism, the pretensions of higher education, and other pillars of society. During World War II, he excoriated American mothers who, he believed, were stifling and coddling their sons and husbands at a time when the world needed courage and fortitude. In the 1950s, Wylie led the Cold War charge to masculinize America in nuclear preparedness.
Philip Wylie’s works include Gladiator (inspired Superman), When Worlds Collide (1933; inspired the comic strip Flash Gordon), Generation of Vipers (1942; a collection of essays that inspired the term “Momism”), Night Unto Night (1944; Ronald Reagan starred in the 1949 film version), The Paradise Crater (1945; a 1965 Nazi plan to build and use uranium bombs), The Disappearance (1951; members of the opposite sex disappear), “Anyone Can Raise Orchids” (1951; that popularized this hobby), and Triumph (1963; about nuclear war between America and the Soviets).

 

TEACHING IN ISTANBUL
Dr. Mazzari has taught American Studies at Istanbul, Turkey, for 10 years. In a slide-enhanced presentation, Dr. Mazzari will share his fascinating experience teaching American Literature and History in Istanbul. 

Location: GCU Arts & Science Center, Little Theatre
Date: Wednesday, October, 1, 6:45 pm
Cost: FREE; reservation required. Contact 732.987.2263 or specialevents@georgian.edu

Below, Dr. Louis Mazzari shares some of his experiences on teaching American history and literature in Istanbul:

One student’s note went right to the point. “I am taking this course because I am an enemy of the United States.”

A second’s was effusive, “Growing up in Bulgaria, what sent my parents out into the streets in protest against the Communist government, what made our struggles worthwhile, was the dream that if we struggled hard enough, some day we could become like America.”

Over the course of ten years teaching American history in Istanbul, I see students looking at America from so many different angles, because it’s the object of immensely varied fascination. America is a Rorschach test for Turkish students and citizens. It’s a measuring stick, a cudgel, and an excuse. It’s a nest of conspiracies; it’s a reward for diligence.

America seems to hold an almost mythological presence in their lives. That presence is the object of an amazing range of emotions and attitudes, from fascination to revulsion. Most of my students have always been high achievers; their acceptance to Bogazici University is possible only through an excellent score in a nationwide entrance exam. In my courses, they want to know why America has been so clearly marked by success. For many, the reasons appear to be the result of great natural resources and participatory democracy. For others, American success is due to its history of imperialism, its nuclear arsenal, the C.I.A., or the Trilateral Commission. Many young women in my literature classes, looking at America through the lens of cultural criticism have developed their own thoughts about their own places in their own society.

During the last two years of the presidency of George W. Bush, who was not popular among Turks because of the Iraq War. I twice opened an American history class to all interested students, and 60 signed up each time. But after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, a figure of fascination, that same open enrollment resulted in a roll of 440, the largest class in the university. Each year since, the same hundreds continue to request the course.

 

 

Georgian Court University welcomes Dr. Louis Mazzari, an assistant professor of American Studies at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is presenting two lectures—one on American writer Philip Wylie on Tuesday, Sept. 30 and another talk on Teaching in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 1. Reservations should be made through GCU’s Office of Conferences and Special Events.

“Last semester I met Louis Mazzari at an American Studies conference in The Hague,” said GCU Professor of History Scott Bennett, Ph.D. “He is a dynamic, articulate, and compelling speaker. Without exaggeration, he is among the finest academic speakers I’ve ever heard.” Currently on sabbatical, Dr. Mazzari is researching a biography of writer Philip Wylie, whose papers are at Princeton University.

Dr. Mazzari’s lectures

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE: PHILIP WYLIE AND THE CLASH OF THE MODERN
Dr. Louis Mazzari will discuss the writer’s life, work, and significance in a slide-enhanced presentation.

Location: GCU Arts & Science Center, Little Theatre
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 6:45 pm
Cost: FREE; reservation required; Call 732.987.2263 or email specialevents@georgian.edu

Philip Wylie (1902-71), a prolific and once famous American modernist writer, is now largely forgotten. Wylie spanned the spectrum of media and the genres of writing available to moderns in America—in books, magazines, newspapers, radio, movies, and television, for Field and Stream and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, for Hollywood musicals and radio plays with Orson Welles. With Harold Ross, he helped launch the New Yorker, and he was a decades-long feature in the popular Saturday Evening Post. He published on atomic physics and Soviet politics, grim psychological jeremiads, popular fishing stories, pulp romance, and science fiction; he wrote screenplays for horror films, Hollywood soap operas, and psychological thrillers. And apart from all these, he interpreted Jungian psychoanalysis for an American audience—and Jung himself called Wylie his most persuasive champion in English.

An iconoclast, Wylie criticized religion, nationalism, the pretensions of higher education, and other pillars of society. During World War II, he excoriated American mothers who, he believed, were stifling and coddling their sons and husbands at a time when the world needed courage and fortitude. In the 1950s, Wylie led the Cold War charge to masculinize America in nuclear preparedness.
Philip Wylie’s works include Gladiator (inspired Superman), When Worlds Collide (1933; inspired the comic strip Flash Gordon), Generation of Vipers (1942; a collection of essays that inspired the term “Momism”), Night Unto Night (1944; Ronald Reagan starred in the 1949 film version), The Paradise Crater (1945; a 1965 Nazi plan to build and use uranium bombs), The Disappearance (1951; members of the opposite sex disappear), “Anyone Can Raise Orchids” (1951; that popularized this hobby), and Triumph (1963; about nuclear war between America and the Soviets).

 

TEACHING IN ISTANBUL
Dr. Mazzari has taught American Studies at Istanbul, Turkey, for 10 years. In a slide-enhanced presentation, Dr. Mazzari will share his fascinating experience teaching American Literature and History in Istanbul. 

Location: GCU Arts & Science Center, Little Theatre
Date: Wednesday, October, 1, 6:45 pm
Cost: FREE; reservation required. Contact 732.987.2263 or specialevents@georgian.edu

Below, Dr. Louis Mazzari shares some of his experiences on teaching American history and literature in Istanbul:

One student’s note went right to the point. “I am taking this course because I am an enemy of the United States.”

A second’s was effusive, “Growing up in Bulgaria, what sent my parents out into the streets in protest against the Communist government, what made our struggles worthwhile, was the dream that if we struggled hard enough, some day we could become like America.”

Over the course of ten years teaching American history in Istanbul, I see students looking at America from so many different angles, because it’s the object of immensely varied fascination. America is a Rorschach test for Turkish students and citizens. It’s a measuring stick, a cudgel, and an excuse. It’s a nest of conspiracies; it’s a reward for diligence.

America seems to hold an almost mythological presence in their lives. That presence is the object of an amazing range of emotions and attitudes, from fascination to revulsion. Most of my students have always been high achievers; their acceptance to Bogazici University is possible only through an excellent score in a nationwide entrance exam. In my courses, they want to know why America has been so clearly marked by success. For many, the reasons appear to be the result of great natural resources and participatory democracy. For others, American success is due to its history of imperialism, its nuclear arsenal, the C.I.A., or the Trilateral Commission. Many young women in my literature classes, looking at America through the lens of cultural criticism have developed their own thoughts about their own places in their own society.

During the last two years of the presidency of George W. Bush, who was not popular among Turks because of the Iraq War. I twice opened an American history class to all interested students, and 60 signed up each time. But after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, a figure of fascination, that same open enrollment resulted in a roll of 440, the largest class in the university. Each year since, the same hundreds continue to request the course.

 

 

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