Washington Irving & The Legend of Jersey City

On October 25, 2018, I participated in a Halloween event at the Apple Tree House in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The program was entitled “Washington Irving & The Legend of Jersey City.” The Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs and the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy served as hosts, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities sponsored the night.

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Christopher Columbus & Washington Irving

The current historic interpretation and understanding of Christopher Columbus stands as complicated. To put it mildly.

Controversy aside, Christopher Columbus figured prominently in the formation of a uniquely American cultural identity. This seems to be forgotten today amid our debates over identity politics and historical grievances.

Proof: Washington Irving, the writer with whom I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time, penned a multi-volume biography of Columbus. Continue reading

Washington Irving, Gibbet Island, and Jersey City

My post from last summer examined the connection between Washington Irving, America’s first international author and a connoisseur of Dutch culture, and the village of Communipaw—a part of contemporary Jersey City.

This post has proven to be my most read piece with visitors from around the globe, illustrating the power and the possibility of culture—whether it be art, literature, music, or cuisine–to transcend nationality, race, religion, and ethnicity. Although culture is often mocked by power and society (including President Obama, disappointingly enough), culture does not only enrich individual lives, but it intellectually and even spiritually serves as the bedrock of civilization. If a society does not value culture, what might it become? ISIS is the most horrific  contemporary example.

But I digress.

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