On this day, the first of February, in 1934, the New York Times carried Franklin Roosevelt’s proclamation of a new gold value for the US dollar. Previously it had been worth 25 8/10 ounces of gold 9/10 fine; now it would be worth 15 5/21 ounces of gold 9/10 fine—or, as it is more commonly said, the dollar had been valued at $20.67 to an ounce of pure gold and now it would be $35 to an ounce of pure gold. But the US was not in 1934, nor would it ever again be, on a gold standard.

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Intertextuality, Feminism, and Reinforced Arguments in Thessaly

by Sumana Harihareswara on February 1, 2016

In this post I’ll discuss some ways in which Walton’s Thessaly series is transformative and some ways in which it’s feminist, and some thoughts on how those choices reinforce each other.

To start with, clearly, Thessaly is transformative in that it concentrates on reusing and commenting on a text someone else made. As Walton [says](http://www.jowaltonbooks.com/books/the-just-city/):

> Writing about Plato’s Republic being tried seems to me an idea that is so obvious everyone should have had it, that it should be a subgenre, there should be versions written by Diderot and George Eliot and Orwell and H. Beam Piper and Octavia Butler.

I’m currently [obsessed](http://www.tor.com/2015/12/21/the-uses-of-history-in-hamilton-an-american-musical/) with *Hamilton: An American Musical* which, like Thessaly, takes old text — often taught in history or philosophy or political science classes — and infuses it with emotion and suspense. But, where *Hamilton* only has a few songs focusing on the process of group decision-making and problems that crop up in the implementation, Walton pays consistent attention to those details. This approach also shows up in Walton’s [“Relentlessly Mundane”](http://www.strangehorizons.com/2000/20001023/relentlessly_mundane.shtml), which you can read as a Narnia fanfic with the serial numbers very rubbed off, or as a general commentary on YA portal fantasies. Paying attention to the concrete details within utopias and after quests, Walton un-deletes the deleted scenes from other stories. [click to continue…]

Liberal, Conservative, Pangloss, Plotinus, Galton

by John Holbo on February 1, 2016

(This isn’t part of our Walton seminar, though it’s got Plotinus in it.)

What is liberalism? What is conservatism? If you are interested in getting answers to these questions, you (probably) want the answers to do two things for you: [click to continue…]