Before the semester is out, we want to take a moment to remember Prof. Thompson Bradley, a passionate and gifted teacher and activist for peace and justice at Swarthmore College, the local region, and the world.
President Val Smith informed the Swarthmore community of Prof. Thompson’s passing on October 3, and the Communications Office provided a rich remembrance of his life, work, and activism. We reprint that below, along with a poem honoring Prof. Thompson by Swarthmore alum Bill Ehrhart that appears on the Veterans for Peace website.
October 3rd, 2019
With deep sadness, I write to share the news that Professor Emeritus of Russian Thompson Bradley died peacefully Sunday, Sept. 22, at his home in Rose Valley, Pa., after a long illness. Tom is remembered for his deep and abiding love of Russian language and literature, his commitment to generations of students, and his devotion to decency and justice in all of his pursuits. He was 85.
Tom is survived by Anne, his wife of more than 60 years, their three daughters, and two grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21. in Upper Tarble in Clothier Memorial Hall.
I invite you to read more below about Tom, his remarkable life, and his innumerable contributions to our community.
In Honor of Professor Emeritus of Russian Thompson Bradley
The Swarthmore community has lost one of its most influential and beloved faculty members, Professor Emeritus of Russian Thompson Bradley, whose teaching and passionate intellectual engagement with Russian language and literature were inseparable from his lifelong commitment to and advocacy for peace and social justice.
“No one in this life is indispensable, but Tom came awfully close,” says longtime friend and colleague John Hassett, the Susan W. Lippincott Professor Emeritus of Modern and Classical Languages. “He was a born teacher, completely dedicated to his students. His preferred space was always the classroom.”
“I recall Tom’s gift for making his interlocutor feel heard and appreciated,” says Professor of Russian Sibelan Forrester. “His face would light up in a very affirming way when he heard a good idea or an interesting story.”
Tom was born in New Haven, Conn., and raised not far from there on a farm in Cheshire. His love of languages first took hold at the Hotchkiss School, where he studied French and Latin. In his senior year, he was introduced to Russian, an encounter that ignited his love of the language and its literature. At Yale University, where Tom earned a B.A. in Russian, and later, at Columbia University, where he pursued graduate work in Slavic languages and literatures, this love deepened and took on literary and historical dimension.
Tom’s recognition of the complex dialectical nature of the relationships between Russia’s language and literature and its revolutionary history inspired his impassioned intellectual and social commitments and was the vital current that found expression in all that he did as a teacher, activist, colleague, and friend.
In 1956, Tom married Anne Cushman Noble. That same year, a few months after graduating from Yale, Tom was drafted into the U.S. Army. In keeping with his moral convictions, he made the principled decision to enlist rather than seek a deferment, then afforded to students continuing on to graduate school. He served for two years at an American base in Germany, where he had been recruited for military intelligence for his language skills.
After completing his service and returning to the U.S., Tom resumed his academic career at Columbia. He then spent a year in Moscow as one of 35 American scholars on a cultural exchange. While working in the Lenin Library and the Gorky Institute of World Literature, Tom witnessed the gradual shift from the Stalinist regime to that under Nikita Khrushchev. He also met with and befriended members of the Soviet dissident movement, whose courage he greatly admired. Years later he invited one of them, well-known human rights activist Elena Bonner, to speak on campus.
After teaching briefly at New York University, Tom joined Swarthmore’s faculty in 1962 as an instructor in Russian. Here, he connected with an earlier generation of scholars, especially those in the Modern Language and Literatures (MLL) Department, who had been displaced by World War II and other major conflicts and had immigrated to the U.S.
In Russian, he notably joined, among others, section head Olga Lang, the quintessential intelligentka and a fount of poetry who had worked with major figures in the Communist Party, and Helen Shatagina, who had been born to an aristocratic St. Petersburg family but politically, Tom said, was an anarchist.
“It was a rich culture and wonderful, cosmopolitan world they brought with them,” he once said. “At Swarthmore, we were the fortunate beneficiaries.”
At the College, Tom also found students whom he described as having a “real commitment” to living the intellectual life. His Russian novel class became legendary, invariably drawing the most students of any MLL course at the time.
In their reflections and testimonials, colleagues recognize Tom’s gifts and dedication as a teacher, as well as his capacity to communicate the beauty and power of literature to broaden and deepen the scope of our moral imagination.
Marion Faber, the Scheuer Family Professor Emerita of Humanities and Professor Emerita of German, says she was “astonished to learn that Tom regularly met individually with every one of his students both before and after each assigned paper—a uniquely generous investment of time and a sign of his devotion as a teacher.”
“More than anyone else I knew here at the College,” says Professor of German Hansjakob Werlen, “Tom’s love of literature always came through in his superb teaching, as did his ability to convey the essence of what literature’s particular aesthetic form can do: free up the imagination for the ways other people live and lived in various places and times and make us empathetic participants in those worlds with all their diverse inhabitants. That empathy extended to everyone living in this world.”
“Tom’s grasp of literature was profound, and profoundly moving,” writes Philip Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor Emeritus of English Literature. “I never knew anyone so passionate about his beliefs who nevertheless refused steadfastly to demonize others whose views he rejected. He didn’t speak much about love—at least not in my hearing—but his whole embodied stance radiated love. Political passion is common enough, but its being humanized and enlarged by love is passing rare. I know of no one else who embodied both these realities so well.”
Tom received tenure in 1968 and chaired MLL for several years. Throughout his career, he never separated his teaching from his social and political activism. Tom spoke of this when he retired in 2001: “I think there are fewer and fewer people in academia today who think of their lives as having to do with a practice outside of academia. I can’t imagine only doing activism, or only teaching. To me they seem as indivisible as literature and history.”
Tom embodied this understanding in his teaching and his activism—both on campus and off—and was at the forefront of efforts to extend the reach of the College curriculum to the larger community.
“Tom was devoted, personally and politically, to decency and justice, and virtually everything he did reflected those commitments,” says Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Rich Schuldenfrei, a longtime colleague and friend. “He was politically active on the left for his whole adult life [and] a leader in mobilizing the College against the war in Vietnam. He mentored conscientious objectors and arranged for training for the faculty to do so. He was active for many years with Veterans for Peace.”
Before opportunities and support for connecting the curriculum to the community were common, Tom forged that path in his own teaching. As Professor Faber notes: “He not only brought contemporary poets like the Vietnam War veteran W.D. Ehrhart ’73 to the College but also taught literature classes in prisons.”
Adds Hugh Lacey, the Scheuer Family Professor Emeritus of Philosophy: “He was always there when it mattered—speaking, organizing, and teaching countless students outside of the formal classroom setting and inspiring them to think and act in new ways.”
Professor Lacey credits Tom with generously participating in, and often leading, many of the activities that made Swarthmore College “live up to its claim to be a community.” Those efforts included organizing a full day of talks and activities to celebrate the first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day; engaging in the Faculty Seminar on Central America in the 1980s to educate the general public about the wars and U.S. foreign policy in the region; supporting the Sanctuary Movement for refugees from those wars; developing a faculty exchange program with a university in El Salvador; and, in the 1990s, helping to create and sustain the Chester-Swarthmore College Community Coalition, which planned educational and other collaborative programming and opportunities for students from Swarthmore and Delaware County Community Colleges and residents of Chester, Pa.
After he retired in 2001, Tom became what one alumnus describes as a “foundation stone” of the College’s Learning for Life program (LLS). Three years later, colleagues and former students published Towards a Classless Society: Studies in Literature, History, and Politics in his honor. Counting his additional years of teaching Russian literature to legions of devoted alumni in New York and Philadelphia through LLS, Tom’s Swarthmore teaching legacy extended nearly 50 years.
Tom was always generous with his time and knowledge. In a 2014 interview, he provided a powerful perspective, unheard until that time, on the division among faculty members during the 1969 Admissions Office takeover.
Tom once said of his European colleagues, several of whom he counted as teachers (and “luckily” as friends): “I always felt, when one of them died, as if more than a person or colleague had gone, but a whole world.” It is not a stretch to say that Tom’s death has left a similar void.
“I’ll always remember him as a loving man, a convivial host at his home, encircled by his beautiful family,” Professor Faber says. “And I’ll always remember him as a man of great élan, in his long black winter overcoat, beret and red scarf, striding to a classroom or a meeting.”
As Professor Schuldenfrei writes, Tom “leaves behind family, friends, political allies, and colleagues who will miss him and forever think of him as a model of political commitment and integrity, and personal loyalty and love.”
He looked like Lenin. Really.
I’ve never forgotten the first time
I saw him, fifty years ago; I had
to do a double-take, knowing Lenin
had been dead for nearly fifty years.
He’d pace back and forth, gesticulating
to a classroom full of college kids
while rolling a cigarette, explaining
Russian Thought and Literature
in the Quest for Truth.
What Lenin took for truth, I’ve
no idea, but through the years
I came to know that truth meant
justice, peace, honesty and fairness,
decency and generosity to Tom.
You name the issue, Tom was always
on the side you wanted to be on:
wars in Asia, the Americas, the Middle East;
civil rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights,
gay rights, the right to live with dignity.
He looked like Lenin, but he lived
a life that Lenin would have envied,
or certainly should have. If Tom had led
the Revolution, I’d have followed him
to hell and back and into heaven.
– W. D. Ehrhart
As a radical Swarthmore professor, Tom developed a friendship with Ehrhart, then a returning Vietnam combat vet who felt like a fish-out-of-water on the Swarthmore campus.
A book talk with Naomi Moland, Professorial Lecturer at the School of International Services at American University.
Wednesday, December 4th
McCabe Library Atrium
For fifty years, Sesame Street has taught generations of Americans their letters and numbers, and also how to better understand and get along with people of different races, faiths, ethnicities, and temperaments. But the show has a global reach as well, with more than thirty co-productions of Sesame Street that are viewed in over 150 countries. In recent years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided funding to the New York-based Sesame Workshop to create international versions of Sesame Street.
At this talk, Dr. Naomi Moland will discuss her new book, Can Big Bird Fight Terrorism? which looks at the Nigerian version, Sesame Square, which began airing in 2011. The show seeks to promote peaceful coexistence in Nigeria, where segregation, state fragility, and escalating conflict raise the stakes of peacebuilding efforts. This book offers rare insights into the complexities, challenges, and dilemmas inherent in soft power attempts to teach the ideals of diversity and tolerance in countries suffering from internal conflict
The Swarthmore Campus & Community Store will provide books for purchase and author signing.
Sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies with co-sponsorship from Film and Media Studies and Education Studies
A presentation by Justin Davis, Deputy Director, Orientation Division, Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State
Friday, December 6th 4:30-6 pm Sproul 201, Intercultural Center
This event is open to the public. You can find directions and a campus map on the College’s website.
Organized by Peace and Conflict Studies and Co-Sponsored by Black Studies, Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology, the Black Cultural Center, The Intercultural Center, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
A presentation by Nadje Al-Ali, Robert Family Professor of International Studies, Brown University
Friday, November 8th 4:30-6 pm
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
This event is open to the public. You can find directions and a campus map on the College’s website.
ORGANIZED BY PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES AND CO-SPONSORED BY ARABIC, GENDER AND SEXUALITY STUDIES, ISLAMIC STUDIES, POLITICAL SCIENCE, SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY, THE INTERCULTURAL CENTER, THE OFFICE OF EXCELLENCE, AND THE LANG CENTER FOR CIVIC AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
“The Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing our History and Ourselves”
A presentation by Paula Palmer, Friend in Residence at Haverford College
Thursday, November 6 4:30-6 pm
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall
This event is open to the public. You can find directions and a campus map on the College’s website.
Paula Palmer is a sociologist, writer, and activist for human rights, social justice, and environmental protection. Since 2012 she travels in Quaker ministry, working with Native and non-Native people to build relationships based on truth, respect, and justice. Her Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples ministry recently became a program of Friends Peace Teams. Paula created and facilitates workshops titled, “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples” (for adults) and “Re-Discovering America: Understanding Colonization” (for middle schools and high schools). As the 2016 Pendle Hill Cadbury Scholar, she conducted research and produced articles and videos about the role Quakers played during the era of the Indian Boarding Schools. She is a frequent speaker for faith communities, civic organizations, and colleges and universities, and has published widely.
Paula is a recipient of the Elise Boulding Peacemaker of the Year Award (given by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center), the Jack Gore Memorial Peace Award (given by the American Friends Service Committee), the International Human Rights Award (given by the United Nations Association of Boulder County), and the Multicultural Award in the “Partners” category (given by Boulder County Community Action Programs). She is a member of Boulder (CO) Quaker Meeting (IMYM).
Organized by Peace and Conflict Studies and Co-Sponsored by History, Political Science, Religion, Sociology and Anthropology, The Intercultural Center, The Office of Inclusive Excellence, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
Other Paula Palmer events that may interest you:
Friday, November 1
The Land Remembers:
Connecting with Native Peoples Through the Land
Co-sponsored with Family and Friends Weekend
Saturday, November 2 1-3 pm
The Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing our History and Ourselves
Delaware History Museum
505 N. Market Street, Wilmington DE 19801
Sunday, November 3 1-3 pm
Interactive Workshop for Tribal Youth and Families
Friday, November 8
Where the Truth Leads: A Journey of Listening
Sharing her spiritual journey
Co-sponsored by Quaker and Special Collections
Lutnick Library Rm 232
Friday, November 8 4:30-6:15 pm
The Film and Discussion
Co-sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship
VCAM 001 Screening Room
Saturday, November 9 11 am-1 pm
Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change:
Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples
MCC: Stokes 106
Monday, November 11 7-9 pm
The Land Remembers: Connecting with Native Peoples through the Land
15th and Cherry Street, Philadelphia
More about Paula:
In collaboration with the Ojibwe attorney Jerilyn DeCoteau, Paula founded Right Relationship Boulder, a community group that works with local governments and organizations to lift up the history, presence, and contributions of Indigenous peoples in the Boulder Valley. Through workshops and presentations, they promote formation of “Right Relationship” groups in other parts of the country.
For 17 years, as executive director of the non-profit organization Global Response, Paula directed over 70 international campaigns to help Indigenous peoples and local communities defend their rights and prevent environmental destruction.
In Costa Rica, where she lived for 20 years, she published five books of oral history in collaboration with Afro-Caribbean and Bribri Indigenous peoples, through a community empowerment process known as Participatory Action Research. With Monteverde Friends, she helped establish the Friends Peace Center in San Jose and began worshiping among Friends there. She has been a member of Boulder meeting, Intermountain Yearly Meeting, since the mid-1990s.
From 1995 to 2001, Paula served as editor for health and environment of Winds of Change magazine, a publication of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). She holds an M.A. degree in sociology from Michigan State University and has taught courses in the Environmental Studies Department of Naropa University. She is profiled in American Environmental Leaders From Colonial Times to the Present (ABC-CLIO, 2000) and Biodiversity, A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO 1998).
Please join us for a film screening of Half-Mile, Upwind, on Foot, with the filmmaker and anti-pipeline activists featured in the film.
This film documents the efforts of two communities challenging fossil fuel pipeline projects in Pennsylvania, including the Mariner East 2 pipeline that cuts through Delaware County, not far from Swarthmore College.
Wednesday, 13 November 2019 7:00 – 8:30 P.M.
Scheuer Room in Kohlberg Hall
Half-Mile, Upwind, On Foot tells the story of communities who are working to challenge two different pipeline projects in Pennsylvania that are considered by many to be disruptive, dangerous, and unnecessary. Through use of eminent domain, billion-dollar pipeline projects are being developed close to homes, schools and community centers—all for the delivery of natural gas and “highly volatile liquids” overseas. The film shares stories of people who are rising up to assert their basic right to a clean, sustainable environment and a safe community as they are confronted by extraction companies and an unfriendly system that often favors corporate power over the rights of people.
In the film, we meet Ellen Gerhart, a retired special education teacher and grandmother who was jailed twice for protesting the taking of three acres of her land (through eminent domain) for use by a pipeline company. Ellen catalogues the degradation of nature that has been taking place on her property, and she gives an overview of some of the ways companies take advantage of their use of eminent domain. We then follow Ginny Marcille-Kerslake, a geologist who testified in court against a pipeline company and successfully stopped construction on her land by documenting how the pipeline construction was damaging the environment.
We also hear from a group of Catholic Sisters known as the Adorers of the Blood of Christ who built a chapel in a pipeline’s path on their land as an expression of religious freedom and their belief in caring for the earth. Sister Bernice Klostermann provides us with a history of the Adorers who settled in Pennsylvania and she teaches us why it is important to preserve the land.
We are then introduced to Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck (a Mennonite pastor) and Mark Clatterbuck (a Professor of Religion at Montclair State University), the Co-Founders of Lancaster Against Pipelines who have been working tirelessly for the past four years to protect communities and to inspire others to take action. They reveal what they’ve learned about eminent domain law and regulations regarding pipeline construction, and they provide insight into how extraction companies are able to receive permits for projects even when those projects may be damaging to the environment or disputed by a large number of citizens. Mark and Malinda also demonstrate how communities can move forward in peaceful ways to protect what they love.
Ultimately, we hear Senator Andrew Dinniman reinforce what many citizens had suspected all along: eminent domain is being compromised in Pennsylvania, and those who oppose the demand for public safety and a clean and sustainable environment, are actually opposing the Constitution of Pennsylvania.
Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies, Environmental Studies, the Office of Sustainability, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsiblity.
Please join us for a talk by Irina Carlota (Lotti) Silber, Associate Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York:
“The 1.5 Insurgent Generation: Stories of El Salvador Postwar”
Tuesday, October 22nd 2019
Sproul 201, Intercultural Center
Organized by Peace and Conflict Studies and Co-Sponsored by History, Latin American and Latino Studies, Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology, Spanish, the Intercultural Center, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
Please see the poster below for further information.
Please come join us to a book event at 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 24 with Lou Klarevas, author of Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shootings, a deeply researched study in which he argues that sensible gun control measures can help prevent mass shootings. Dr. Klarevas will speak in the Inn at Swarthmore’s Gathering Room A. Afterwards, he will move to the Swarthmore Campus & Community Store to sign copies of his books
Rampage Nation review excerpt:
In the past decade, no individual act of violence has killed more people in the United States than the mass shooting. This well-researched, forcefully argued book answers some of the most pressing questions facing our society: Why do people go on killing sprees? Are gun-free zones magnets for deadly rampages? What can we do to curb the carnage of this disturbing form of firearm violence?Contrary to conventional wisdom, the author shows that gun possession often prods aggrieved, mentally unstable individuals to go on shooting sprees; these attacks largely occur in places where guns are not prohibited by law; and sensible gun-control measures like the federal Assault Weapons Ban-which helped drastically reduce rampage violence when it was in effect-are instrumental to keeping Americans safe from mass shootings in the future.To stem gun massacres, the author proposes several original policy prescriptions, ranging from the enactment of sensible firearm safety reforms to an overhaul of how the justice system investigates potential active-shooter threats and prosecutes violent crimes. Calling attention to the growing problem of mass shootings,Rampage Nationdemonstrates that this unique form of gun violence is more than just a criminal justice offense or public health scourge. It is a threat to American security.
Louis Klarevas, PhD, teaches in the Department of Global Affairs at the University of Massachusetts–Boston. He also serves as a consultant to the federal government on national security matters. A frequent commentator on homeland security and foreign policy, he has appeared on numerous news programs, including on CNN, ABC, NPR, and the BBC. In the past, he has taught at American University, George Washington University, City University of New York, and New York University. In addition, he has served as the Defense Analysis Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Security Studies.