He then impulsively threw a billiard ball at the woman, badly injuring her. But if you have a thousand scandals a day, that each one that seems world-historical, it's totally incapacitating. To ask other readers questions about The Topeka School, please sign up. They were both born and raised in New York City. Jonathan focused his research on the possible uses of film and video in psychotherapy. And then also for the book to offer some counter-models, like Adam's mother's modes of listening, or some other voices in the book that are not speaking gibberish. He is a professional writer, a husband, and the father of two young girls. Adam was a talented debater and did well in the competition. ... And when Bill Clinton, the cool baby boomer, trounced Bob Dole, it was like: Now it's just the advent of liberal technocrats and ideology is over, etc. Adam went to find Amber, and she compared the incident to a time when she snuck out of the room while her self-absorbed stepfather was talking at length. The narration notes that contestants often used conceptually shallow strategies to score points via technicalities. So I wanted "the spread" also to be a metaphor for the way that we're overloaded in our daily lives with the language of information. In a way, it mirrors the 1990's families and characters of books and films such as Cruel Intentions , The Perks of Being A Wallflower and American Beauty , but it also brings a quirky element and some themes of philosophy into the mix of family dysfunction and drama. He was successful overall, but his training continued to emphasize technical strategies and manipulation over soundness and sincerity of argument. In the novel’s first scene, Adam gives a speech to his high school girlfriend, Amber, without realizing that she’s disappeared (7). The story takes place in the 1990s in Topeka, Kan., where a high school senior named Adam Gordon is a star on the debate team (as was Lerner). He feels like he dissolves into prosody or rhythm or poetry or flow. Darren was subsequently arrested by the police. Some of the people there pranked Darren into flirting with a young woman. Later, Amber recounts abandoning her stepfather’s dinnertime polemic without his noticing (13). Then show the movie once through without pausing. I think we live in a moment of total regression to fascistic unreason in our political speech. Darren was lost and alone for hours. Tiffany Anderson, Topeka Public Schools superintendent Mark Tallman, Kansas Association of School Boards The discussion will cover everything from the … Adam began talking at length and lost focus on Amber, so Amber stealthily swam away. In the novel’s first scene, Adam gives a speech to his high school girlfriend, Amber, without realizing that she’s disappeared (7). You’ll also find printable book club questions at … ... Adam has these instances of transport where, whether it's speed in debate or it's freestyling, where he feels like he's no longer speaking the language, but the language is speaking him. I mean, the book both wants to ruthlessly mark these kinds of extreme speech, and the cultural appropriation of these white middle-class kids freestyling — and freestyling totally inapplicable cliches from the rap videos they're watching — but it also wants to be alive to the glimmer of possibility even in those busted forms of speech. ", On how Adam freestyle raps with his friends at night. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. And I think literature is one small effort to advance a counter-language to the languages of exploitation. Author Ben Lerner's new semi-autobiographical book, The Topeka School, finds a competitive-debate whiz kid navigating adolescence — and … It might have been a very different kind of speech, but it was so slow. But I think the good thing — maybe the only good thing — about the way the language is dying in Trump's mouth is that there's no going back to a neoliberal political discourse that puts a humane face on extreme capitalist exploitation, or whatever. everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Topeka School. What kinds of speaking, and listening, do the two stories introduce? He's a father of two young children, and he's trying to figure out how to how to speak honorably and how to transmit things to his own daughters that are not the doublespeak that's described elsewhere in the book. The narrative gives background information about Jonathan’s youth. ISBN-13: 9780374277789 Summary A tale of adolescence, transgression, and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the New Right. *BrainPOP’s Discussion Questions and Prompts align to CCSS Speaking and Listening Standards. Her closest friend and confidant was a colleague named Sima. Jane published her work in book form, and the book became highly popular and renowned. (The author's own mother is the psychologist Harriet Lerner.) I mean, Donald Trump speaks very slowly — it's kind of agrammatical, halting, racist signaling. Shapiro: Look, I was White House correspondent for five years, and Obama spoke painfully slowly too. However, Sima began to emotionally withdraw from Jane after Jane’s book became popular. Jane and Jonathan are both psychotherapists and psychological researchers. So the young Adam has this fantasy. Questions for Discussion 1. Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of ’97. What kinds of … And the book wants to argue that those are real moments of possibility, where we re-encounter the miracle of language as such and the possibility of building a new language out of the limits of this one. Inside you'll find 30 Daily Lessons, 20 Fun Activities, 180 Multiple Choice Questions, 60 Short Essay Questions, 20 Essay Questions, Quizzes/Homework Assignments, Tests, … This study guide contains the following sections: This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The novel’s final chapter takes place in the present day. He does his best to stand up for progressive moral ideals. How? In his senior year of high school, he participated in high-level debate competitions. A teenager named Darren was in police custody after assaulting someone with a billiard ball. Lerner: I mean, I think to a certain degree that is a metaphor for the overload of the present. I mean, therapy depends upon the possibilities of expression. Board of Education of Topeka Topic Page to your class. The book ends with a kind of experiment in collective speech ... and Adam Gordon finds it very awkward and very halting, but he finds it a kind of halting-ness that's about constructing ... a new mode of public speech that can be counter to the dominant racist and avaricious discourses of the day. I mean, there's the slowness of political speech on the one hand, and then there's the speed of nano-trading and the 24-hour news cycle on the other hand. The Topeka School is a sort of prequel to these two novels. Well, I was really interested, how in the '90s, there was this discourse circulating, at least amongst the pundit class, of the "end of history." The Topeka School.

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