H. Bruce Franklin
|H. Bruce Franklin|
|Born||February 28, 1934|
Eaton Award, 1981
Pilgrim Award, 1983
|Education||Amherst, B.A., 1955|
|Alma mater||Stanford, Ph.D., 1961|
H. Bruce Franklin (born February 1934), is an American cultural historian and scholar. He is notable for receiving top awards for his lifetime scholarship in fields as diverse as American studies, science fiction, prison literature and marine ecology. So far he has written or edited nineteen books and three hundred professional articles and participated in making four films. His main areas of academic focus are science fiction, prison literature, environmentalism, the Vietnam War and its aftermath, and American cultural history. He was instrumental in helping to debunk false public speculation that Vietnam was continuing to hold prisoners of war. He helped to establish science fiction writing as a genre worthy of serious academic study. In 2008, the American Studies Association awarded him the Pearson-Bode Prize for Lifetime Achievement in American Studies. A critic of the Vietnam War, he was fired from Stanford in 1972 as a result of his firmly held positions, and the termination brought nationwide attention to the issue of academic freedom. Since 1975, he is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.
Born in February 1934, Franklin held numerous jobs in Brooklyn while working his way through college. From 1951 to 1952, he was a batch worker at the Mayfair Photofinishing Company. In 1953, he was an upholsterer for the Carb Manufacturing Company, and was later promoted to foreman of the shipping department in 1954. He graduated from Amherst in 1955. In 1956, he married Jane Morgan with whom he has had three children. From 1955 to 1956, he was a tugboat deckhand and mate for the Pennsylvania RR Marine department, based in Jersey City, New Jersey. He served in the United States Air Force from 1956 to 1959 as a navigator and intelligence officer. In 1966, he resigned his commission in the Strategic Air Command as a protest against the Vietnam War.
Franklin got his doctorate from Stanford in 1961 and was hired at the university as an assistant professor of English in 1961, and was promoted to associate professor in 1965. He was also a lecturer in adult education in San Jose, California for a year. He became an expert on American writers, particularly Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. At one point, he served as president of the Melville Society. His first book, The Wake of the Gods: Melville’s Mythology examined Melville's use of mythologies and intellectual milieu from Meso-American to Sanskrit. Franklin wrote a scholarly edition of Melville's The Confidence Man: His Masquerade, which traced obscure classical and "alien" references embedded in Melville's prose.
Franklin traveled to Stanford's Paris campus and lived there with his wife from 1966-1967. They read Marxist theory and helped organize the Free University of Paris, and lectured there in 1967. According to one report, Franklin "parlayed a long-bubbling political concern into a full-blown Communist analysis of literature", which included an analysis of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. He edited the anthology The Essential Stalin.
When he returned to the United States in the late 1960s, he became a prominent activist in the movement against the Vietnam War. He was one of four founders of the Revolutionary Union, a US-based Maoist-type organization which was described in one report as a "throwback to the Stalinism of the 1930s". The organization was infiltrated by the FBI which planted informers within the leadership of the group to heighten members' "suspicions of each other". The group "declined into a cult", according to one account, and in 1971 he, along with half of its members, left to join a Chicano-based leftist group called the Venceremos Organization. The name Venceremos was based on Che Guevara's "battle cry" meaning "we shall overcome". Venceremos and Franklin were targeted systematically by the FBI which used disinformation, agents provocateurs, and violent acts to discredit leftist organizations, in an agency program called COINTELPRO. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed repeated attempts by the FBI to "neutralize" Franklin.
Fired from Stanford
At Stanford, in 1971, Franklin was accused of inciting anti-war protests on campus. At a campus rally on February 10th, Franklin made a speech protesting a war effort by the United States during the Vietnam War to invade the neighboring nation of Laos. According to a report in Time magazine, while Stanford students assembled, Franklin harangued them by saying something to the effect of "So now what we're asking is for people to make that tiny little gesture..." A report in the Stanford Daily student publication suggested that Franklin urged protestors to "resist police efforts" with the effect of "inciting a riot." After his speech, students occupied the Stanford computer center and more than 100 riot police were summoned.
Stanford president Richard Lyman gave Franklin a letter, claiming that he violated an agreement entitled "Statement of Policy on Appointments and Tenure", with the specific complaint that Franklin "deliberately contributed to a disturbance which forced the cancellation of a speech by Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge at Dinkelspiel Auditorium". A tenure-review committee was chosen, with professors from assorted academic departments. A lecture hall was converted into a makeshift courtroom. Stanford hired a major Los Angeles law firm, with lead attorney Paul Valentine, to argue the university's case, while Franklin, lacking funds from being unemployed, had to defend himself with advice from a law student. Evidence was heard, witnesses were cross-examined, summations were given, and the panel left to consider its verdict.
Franklin was found guilty of three charges of "inciting student disruptions". Accordingly, Stanford fired Franklin in 1972. He was the only tenured professor to be fired from Stanford. The termination generated nationwide media exposure and brought attention to the issue of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Afterwards, Franklin was out of work for the next three years. Blacklisted, Franklin did not have regular employment during these years, although he had brief visiting faculty positions at Wesleyan and Yale from 1974 to 1975.
A decade later, in 1985, with the help of a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union, Franklin appealed the termination, and sought back pay, damages, and reinstatement, but the effort was not successful. A state court upheld Stanford's ruling, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. ACLU lawyer Margaret Casey said the ruling would have a "chilling effect" on the power of academics to express their thinking freely.
In 1975 Franklin was hired by Rutgers as a full professor with tenure. Since 1987 he is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies. Franklin's academic career has diverse areas of scrutiny which mostly relate to the topic of American cultural history. In 2014, he was influential in organizing Rutgers faculty to block the choice of Condoleezza Rice as commencement speaker.
This is a culture which gets much of its vision of reality from images projected on movie screens, television screens and computer screens.— H. Bruce Franklin, 2007
In 2014, Temple University scholar Carolyn Karcher summed up Franklin's achievements by saying that he has an "extraordinary gift for teaching us to read our history in our literature and to glean from both insights that can help us alter our future."
Franklin has a lifelong passion for science fiction and has been a guest curator on topics about Star Trek and Star Wars. His book War Stars was cited by leftist philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky, who bemoaned the prevalence of a recurring theme in popular literature that "we're about to face destruction from some terrible, awesome enemy." Franklin's research explored America's fascination with superweapons. He argued in War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination that popular American books and novels in preceding decades and centuries, which dealt with the themes of superweapons, may have helped to shape national thinking on this subject. When the movie Independence Day appeared in 1996, Franklin said "Fundamental to the historical experience of [American] culture are alien invaders who came armed with a superior technology and wiped out the culture that was here." His book Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century (1966) identified American authors including Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville as pioneers of this genre who wrote science fiction, contrary to popular understanding. His Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction won the Eaton Award in 1981, and contributed to Franklin receiving the Pilgrim Award for lifetime scholarship in 1983. In his 1988 War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination,selected by Choice as the Outstanding Academic Book of 1989, Franklin turned his interest in science fiction to an examination of the American fascination with superweapons. His book presents a view that, ironically, from Robert Fulton’s submarine Nautilus in the 18th century to the death-dealing weaponry of the late 20th century, superweapons ostensibly designed to end war have proved capable of exterminating the human species. The expanded 2008 edition explores how this cultural history led to the seemingly permanent state of warfare of the 21st century. War Stars is informed by Franklin’s own earlier experience as a navigator and intelligence officer in the Strategic Air Command. In 1990 he was named the Distinguished Scholar for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. In 1991, he was Guest Curator for the Star Trek and the Sixties exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution; this show subsequently traveled to the Hayden Planetarium.
Vietnam and its aftermath
A recurring subject area for Franklin is the history of the Vietnam War and its role in American literature and culture since 1966. His books M.I.A., or Mythmaking in America and Vietnam and America: A Documented History (which he co-edited) have been used in courses on the Vietnam War. His Vietnam and Other American Fantasies (2000) synthesized his previous work and extended it into an overview of 21st-century American culture.
One of Franklin's themes in writing about Vietnam is that the supposed existence of surviving American prisoners of war in Vietnam after the war was a myth created after 1980 with the tacit approval of the Reagan administration, and that the psychological foundations of the myth arguably originated from justifications for the war offered by the Nixon before 1973, in that the war had to continue in order to bring the prisoners of war home. In the 1980s and 1990s, many Americans believed, incorrectly, that there were many "prisoners of war are still being held in Indochina" and that the American government was lying to the public about their existence. When Franklin was assembling an anthology in 1996 entitled The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs and Poems, he sent a fax to musician Bruce Springsteen requesting the singer's permission to put the song Born in the U.S.A. in his anthology; he faxed the request en route to class, and Springsteen's office faxed back, agreeing, letting him use the image without charge. His book Vietnam and America: A Documented History, which he co-edited with his wife Jane Franklin and Marvin Gettleman and Marilyn Young, was described by the New York Times as a "valuable anthology of crucial texts and records" which "tersely replays the bitter conflict." A reviewer in The Nation described Franklin's writing about the M.I.A. issue as using "elegant economy". Franklin believed that his students had incorrect ideas about the American involvement in Vietnam, such as that the United States lost the war because it "didn't try hard enough"; Franklin felt that his students were unaware of the extent of bomb damage. His book chronicled how the supposed "missing" American soldiers were "known to be dead" but were "kept alive for bureaucratic reasons that backfired." He described the post-war belief in still-held prisoners of war as a "manufactured issue" and criticized presidential contender Michelle Bachmann for bringing up the issue as "pure opportunism." Franklin was pivotal in helping to debunk the "Missing in Action" myths. New York Times reviewer Todd Gitlin described Franklin's M.I.A. as "meticulously researched."
Franklin's research about a lesser fish in the food chain called the menhaden brought greater attention to their survival. In The Most Important Fish in the Sea, Franklin examined marine food chains and argued for the importance of menhaden. He showed that many species of fish, which humans eat, depend for their well-being on eating menhaden, and therefore their role in the food chain was vital. Franklin's analysis was an interdisciplinary study in American environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural history from the 17th into the 21st centuries. It led to the introduction of two nature conservation bills in Congress. In a review in the Washington Post, his book was described as an "exhaustive examination of issues" using lucid prose "infused with an urgency that depends little on hyperbole and largely on careful documentation".
Prisoners and prisons
A major focus of Franklin's research has been the American penal system. Prison Literature in America (1989) established Franklin as an authority on American prison literature and has been cited by historians, penologists, literary critics, and sociologists. In books such as his 1998 anthology Prison Writing in 20th-Century America and Prison Literature in America, Franklin argued that convict authors and artists are "innovative creators who have had a deep influence on the mainstream of cultural production", according to the Los Angeles Times. His work was cited in the Supreme Court's decision to overturn New York State's Son of Sam law. He has been an outspoken critic of the American penal system, in terms of violations of human rights. His anthology Prison Writing in 20th-Century America about "criminals turned raconteurs" was well-received.
The typical American prison is designed and run to maximize degradation, brutalization, and punishment, overt torture is the norm. Beatings, electric shock, prolonged exposure to heat and even immersion in scalding water, shackled prisoners forced to lie in their own excrement for hours or even days, sodomy with riot batons, nightsticks, flashlights, and broom handles, months, years, even decades of solitary confinement in windowless cells, rape and murder by guards or prisoners instructed by guards—all are everyday occurrences in the American prison system .... Sexual humiliation is the norm, and rape is endemic .... the huge cost of prisons is diverting funds from education and rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.— H. Bruce Franklin, 2015
- The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 2007)
- Vietnam & Other American Fantasies (University of Massachusetts Press, 2001)
- Prison Writing in 20th-Century America (Penguin, 1998)
- The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs, and Poems (Bedford/St. Martins, 1996)
- M.I.A., or, Mythmaking in America, New York: Lawrence Hill and Co., 1992. Revised and expanded paperback edition, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8135-2001-0
- War Stars: The Superweapon in the American Imagination (Oxford University Press, 1988). Revised and Expanded Edition, University of Massachusetts Press, 2008.
- Prison Literature in America: The Victim as Criminal and Artist (Oxford University Press, 1982)
- American Prisoners and Ex-prisoners, Their Writings: An Annotated Bibliography of Published Works, 1798-1981 (L. Hill, 1982)
- Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction (Oxford University Press, 1980)
- Countdown to Midnight: Twelve Great Stories about Nuclear War (DAW Books)
- Back Where You Came From: A Life in the Death of the Empire (Harper’s Magazine Press, 1975)
- The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 1905-52 (Anchor Books, 1972)
- From the Movement Toward Revolution (Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1971)
- Vietnam and America: A Documented History (co-author)(Grove/Atlantic)
- Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the 19th Century (Oxford University Press; Rutgers University Press, 1966)
- The Wake of the Gods: Melville's Mythology (Stanford University Press, 1963)
- American Studies Association (ASA) 2016, Bode-Pearson Prize Recipients, 1975-2015, Retrieved February 9, 2016, "...2008: H. Bruce Franklin, Rutgers University, Newark..."
- Shirley Horner (October 17, 1982). "ABOUT BOOKS". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
... Franklin's classes are oversubscribed and his anthology, Future Perfect ... enjoys perennial popularity ... esteem of critical circles for elevating the genre by demonstrating, as the author said, that literary greats like Hawthorne and Melville also wrote science-fiction....
- "Winners". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. May 20, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
...1983: H Bruce Franklin...
- Rutgers University, Faculty biography, Retrieved February 10, 2016
- Note: 'H' for Howard)
- ANTHONY M. PLATT (reviewer) (July 4, 1999). "The Abyss". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...These convict writers and artists, he persuasively argues, are also innovative creators who have had a deep influence on the mainstream of cultural production. ...
- Susan P. Williams (book reviewer) (July 21, 2007). "Caught in the Net". Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
... Franklin, however, concentrates on marine communities -- specifically, what eats menhaden and what menhaden eat.... an exhaustive examination of issues... prose is lucid and infused with an urgency....
- Note: many of his works have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and others
- STEVEN A. HOLMES (April 16, 1993). "Debate Rises on Hanoi P.O.W. Report". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...Some historians and researchers involved in the issue of American prisoners in Southeast Asia ... document an outright fabrication ... "a clumsy fabrication," said H. Bruce Franklin...
- Shirley Horner (November 27, 1988). "About Books". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
....War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination, by H. Bruce Franklin .... an abundance of popular stories and novels by American authors so powerfully conveyed the fantasy of the superweapon that those fantasies have shaped the thinking of inventors and leaders and common people....
- "Education: Limits of Academic Freedom". Time Magazine. March 15, 1971. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...With increasing zealotry, ... Once a quiet, respected expert on Melville and Hawthorne, Franklin has in recent years parlayed a long-bubbling political concern into a full-blown Communist analysis of literature as well as everything else. ...As a Maoist...
- Jones, Clarence B. What Would Martin Say? (Harper Perennial, 2009), p. 209.
- Jay Kinney (March 2016). "Reds and Feds: What the FBI's war on the Maoist fringe tells us about the surveillance state". Reason magazine. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
... the government successfully planted informers and undercover operatives in R.U. ... heighten members' suspicions of each other....it seems fair to conclude that the RCP's decline into a cult was bound to marginalize it, with or without repressive measures from the feds....
- Russell Jacoby (1999). "The End of the End of the End of Ideology". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...a collection of Stalin's writings edited by H. Bruce Franklin... Stalin was an authentic liberator, a true leader who is revered by working people throughout the world.....
- see The Essential Stalin, published by Croom Helm, 1973, edited and introduced by Franklin
- Associated Press (September 21, 1985). "Stanford Teacher Fired in 1972 Loses Appeal for Reinstatement". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...A state appeals court ruled Friday against a former Stanford University professor ... for the three years Franklin was out of work.
- "Education: Inciting to Violence". Time magazine. January 17, 1972. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...While the students milled about, a professor named H. Bruce Franklin harangued them on their duties: "So now what we're asking is for people to make that tiny little gesture ...
- AZ Gordon (January 11, 2015). "Are we Charlie? A brief history of free speech at Stanford". Stanford Daily. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
... Franklin urged the protesters to resist police efforts, allegedly inciting a riot....
- Jonathan Dedmon and Chris Katzenbach (January 19, 1971). "Franklin Hit With Conduct Charge". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
- "Stanford President Confirms Radical Professor's Dismissal". Harvard Crimson. January 11, 1972. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
... recommending Franklin's dismissal after finding him guilty on three charges of inciting student disruptions....Franklin allegedly helped incite students to occupy the campus computer center and encouraged resistence(sic) to a police dispersal order....
- "Stanford Trustees Fire Prof: Act with Few Precedents". Chicago Tribune. January 23, 1972. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...dismissal of a radical professor charged by the university with inciting campus disruptions a year ago ...
- "The State". Los Angeles Times. January 7, 1986. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...Stanford University's action in firing a professor for a speech he made during an anti-war demonstration was upheld by the California Supreme Court ... Margaret Casey, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, said will have a "chilling effect" on the ability of educators to express their views....
- from the Rutgers website
- Kelly Heyboer (NJ Advance Media) (March 12, 2014). "Rutgers-Newark faculty call for Rutgers to nix Condoleezza Rice as commencement speaker". nj.com. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...H. Bruce Franklin ... introduced the resolution ... "What we're doing is awarding an honorary degree and having a commencement speech from someone who is a war criminal."...
- Borzou Daragahi (May 13, 2007). "Pushing the war onto the screen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
..."This is a culture which gets much of its vision of reality from images projected on movie screens, television screens and computer screens," said H. Bruce Franklin...
- LEWIS BEALE (January 16, 1996). "IN FUTURISTIC FILMS, IT'S BAD TIMES AHEAD LIGHT YEARS FROM THE SUNNY 'STAR WARS,' NEW SCI-FI MOVIES SHOW A WORLD GONE HORRIBLY WRONG". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- DAVE ITZKOFF (May 14, 2009). "The Two Sides of ‘Star Trek’". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...In recent decades, Mr. Franklin said, “Star Trek” ceded its position as America’s dominant science-fiction mythology to “Star Wars”....
- Steven Larson (February 18, 2014). "Noam Chomsky mockingly blames gun culture on fear of U.N., aliens, zombies". Campus Reform. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...“[O]ne major theme in popular literature is that we’re about to face destruction from some terrible, awesome enemy,” Chomsky said, citing literary critic H. Bruce Franklin and his book, War Stars....
- LEWIS BEALE (July 1, 1996). "THEY'RE SIMPLY OUTTA THIS WORLD 'INDEPENDENCE DAY' SHOWS WHY WE STILL GET BUG-EYED OVER ALIENS". Daily News. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
..."Fundamental to the historical experience of [American] culture are alien invaders who came armed with a superior technology and wiped out the culture that was here," says H. Bruce Franklin...
- Rutgers University, 2016, FACULTY BIOGRAPHY, Retrieved February 10, 2016, "... in 1990 he was named the Distinguished Scholar of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts..."
- Todd Gitlin (April 12, 1992). "Afterlife of a War: (review of) M.I.A. Or Mythmaking in America. By H. Bruce Franklin.". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...H. Bruce Franklin's "M.I.A." casts strong light on the Indochina war's ghostly and ghastly afterlife....Franklin's meticulously researched book asks why a majority of Americans, according to public opinion polls, believe that prisoners of war are still being held in Indochina, and why many Americans are certain that the United States Government is lying about them. ...Franklin ...
- JON PARELES (October 28, 2000). "That's Dr. Boss To You: A Dropout As B.M.O.C.". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...H. Bruce Franklin... starts his course on the literature of the Vietnam War by discussing Born in the U.S.A. ... I faxed to him on my way to class, Mr. Franklin said. ...
- Shirley Horner (November 10, 1985). "ABOUT BOOKS". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...H. Bruce Franklin ... Vietnam and America: A Documented History, co-edited by Dr. Franklin and his wife, Jane; Marvin E. Gettleman and Marilyn Young (Grove Press, New York, $22.50; paper, $11.95), a valuable anthology of crucial texts and records, tersely replays the bitter conflict that cost more than 58,000 American lives...
- Rick Perlstein (December 3, 2013). "The Enduring Cult of the Vietnam ‘Missing in Action’: How a propaganda goof by Richard Nixon’s administration midwifed an urban legend that scarred American foreign policy and domestic politics for a generation.". The Nation. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
... The scholar H. Bruce Franklin of Rutgers tells the story with elegant economy in the book M.I.A., Or Mythmaking in America....
- FOX BUTTERFIELD (February 13, 1983). "The New Vietnam Scholarship". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...Franklin... found the majority believed the United States lost the war because "we didn't try hard enough." ....
- Myron Beckenstein (January 4, 1993). "Potpourri of poetry, prose". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...M.I.A., by H. Bruce Franklin ... The missing were known to be dead but were kept alive for bureaucratic reasons that backfired....
- Elizabeth Flock (May 23, 2013). "Bachmann Wants New POW Panel; '93 Report Says No Prisoners Remain -- A select committee in 1993 found there were no live prisoners in Southeast Asia.". US News. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...And H. Bruce Franklin, an American cultural historian and Rutgers University professor critical of the POW/MIA movement... "The post-war POW issue was a manufactured issue" ... "pure opportunism"....
- "Lay the POW/MIA Myth to Rest". Christian Science Monitor. January 13, 1992. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- Al Ristori (February 14, 2011). "Bunker expert H. Bruce Franklin speaks at SWABC Tuesday night". nj.com. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...H. Bruce Franklin, author of Menhaden: The Most Important Fish in the Sea...
- ALAN PRENDERGAST (January 16, 2013). "THE TEN BEST BOOKS ABOUT AMERICA'S PRISONS". Westword. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
...criminals turned raconteurs, as can be seen in even the best anthology of that genre, H. Bruce Franklin's Prison Writing in 20th-Century America....
- "American prisons: The caging of human rights". Mehr News. 5 July 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
... shackled prisoners forced to lie in their own excrement for hours or even days...
- Franklin's web page
- Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America web page
- An SF Bay Guardian article about the FBI and Franklin
- Prison Writing in 20th Century America, book review from The Mantle