S.I. Hayakawa talk by author Gerald Haslam
of the CSU Sonoma, English Department
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 at 3 p.m.
CSU Sacramento Library Gallery
Lecture Topic: Gerald and Janice Haslam, who have written "In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S.I. Hayakawa,"
will discuss the research and writing of this book, which is available in print.
By the time of his death in 1992, S. I. Hayakawa had been both one of Californian’s most controversial educators and one of its least consistent politicians. The Canadian native, who relocated in the Golden State in 1955 and served as professor of language arts at San Francisco State, was a nationally known figure and popular lecturer nationally due to his best-selling book, "Language in Thought and Action." His list of pals included everyone from Langston Hughes to Wallace Stegner, with several major jazz musicians thrown in for good measure.
During the SF State strike of 1968-69, Hayakawa became president of the college and took a hard line with strikers. When the dispute finally ended after 167 days, the immediate winner was Hayakawa, who would ride his popularity into the United States Senate. But the tide of history was on the side of the young; eventually they would be the establishment.
During his stint in Washington, Hayakawa emerged as something of a conservative libertarian. He also shocked many when he opposed reparations for Japanese Americans who had been interned. Soon an unacknowledged sleep disorder undid Hayakawa’s image. Johnny Carson, whose Tonight Show dominated late-night television, began joking about him – What would S.I. Hayakawa’s personalized auto license plate be? "ZZZZZZ."
Hayakawa’s post-senate activity as spokesperson for US English and its campaign to declare English the national language resonated with a segment of the public, while his more important work as special advisor on Southeast Asian and Pacific Basin matters went largely unnoticed.
Gerald and Janice Haslam, who have written "In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S.I. Hayakawa," were friends but not political allies of Hayakawa. They have produced what "The Journal of American History" calls "this excellent biography." Their earlier work includes a series of off-beat, award-winning books exploring California — "Haslam’s Valley," "Coming of Age in California," "The Great Central Valley: California’s Heartland," "Workin’ Man Blues: County Music in California," among others.
The Haslams’ next project is a biography of USC athlete Leon Patterson, a Depression migrant from Arkansas who set a national scholastic shot-put record while terminally ill.
For further information:
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