Machiavellian Power in Westeros

In the first part of my Western Civilization course, I explored the influence of Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince” on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy series by George R. R. Martin.

“It would be obvious to Machiavelli that the system of governance in Westeros is ripe for betrayal and misfortune. … Most alliances between houses are cemented by marriages, and kinslaying is one of the highest crimes in Westeros, but not every powerful ruler is necessarily good.”

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Ginsberg’s Acceptance of Self and Other

In my Kerouac & Ginsberg course, I analyzed Allen Ginsberg’s poem “America” from 1956 and tried to understand his political viewpoint during the Cold War.

“Throughout the poem, Ginsberg refers to America as ‘you,’ ‘we,’ and ‘I.’ He is realizing that despite his criticism for America, he is not separate from it. ‘I’m addressing you. … It occurs to me that I am America. I am talking to myself again.'”

Who or What is the ‘Shrouded Stranger’?

During my Kerouac & Ginsberg course, I investigated the mysterious “Shrouded Stranger,” a recurring image in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” from 1957.

“The Stranger seems to be an integral part of the larger beatnik philosophy. In the murky depths of your struggles, you can find yourself. Your experiences of reality and the paranormal, and how you choose to relate them, can shape your beliefs and goals.”

Relinquishing the Self

In my American Literature class, I analyzed John Woolman’s abolitionist efforts prior to the Civil War.

“His experience as a public speaker and teacher allowed him to develop a method of dialog with slave owners that was constructive rather than accusatory and that contained a logic that was easy to understand.”