June 27, 2012

...And how about this little aside?:
"I am biased. I've spent an inordinate amount of time with John Barth's writing over the past two years, having been hired to adapt The Sot-Weed Factor — Barth's labyrinthine historical parody set in 18th century Colonial Maryland — into a full length filmic extravagance, consisting of eleven one-hour episodes and one feature
length finale."

October 06, 2011

Mark Edmundson (he of the famous 1997 Harper's essay On the Uses of a Liberal Education As Lite Entertainment For Bored College Students) has a new like-minded piece out: Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? (Oxford American, The Education Issue, Aug. 2011 - Issue: 74)

November 21, 2009

Book TV visited with author and teacher Eva Brann at her home in Annapolis, Maryland, to talk about her life and work. Ms. Brann, who has been a tutor at St. John's College since 1957, discussed her interest in the classics and talked about some of the philosophers her students read.  (Original air date August 1, 2009)

April 03, 2009

The University of Chicago Chronicle announces that the late Leo Strauss, a political philosopher who is among the University’s most celebrated faculty members, will “teach again” when tapes and transcripts of his courses are digitized and collected on a Web site to be built by the newly founded Leo Strauss Center.

“The National Endowment for the Humanities is supporting the publishing project with a $350,000 grant over two years. In addition to the grant, the center is raising funds for the project, which is expected to cost $1.3 million.

This unpublished record refers in part to the audiotapes, transcripts and class notes of some 47 courses Strauss taught, most of them here at the University of Chicago,” said Stephen Gregory, Administrative Coordinator of the Leo Strauss Center, who will be managing the project.

“We consider these to be an extraordinary resource for the study of Strauss’ thought, and, more generally, of political philosophy and the intellectual history of the 20th century,” said Nathan Tarcov, Professor in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought, who founded the Leo Strauss Center, the Web site of which will host the documents.

A demo of Strauss on Plato's Meno is available here.

January 09, 2009

Some enjoyably wry reflections on Robert M. Hutchins and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions by Ed Engberg, Sr. Fellow Emeritus of the Center. 
 The Center in Santa Barbara, assumed a mission that cannot be defined more concisely than the Advancement of Everything Good. At one time or another, depending upon its finances, the immediate audience, or the condition of the world and the night vapors troubling it, the Center proposed itself as an "early warning system" that will alert us to each rise in the tide of "critical issues," and the flotsam to be found thereon; and as the sole locus of thought generated independently of the pressure of this world; it is the protector and civilizer of great conversation....
...Hutchins struck [Lewis] Mumford as "tall, urbane, boyish looking: keen but supercilious , rational and outwardly reasonable, but shallow; an unawakened isolationist." "Aloof," the adjective often used by friendlier critics, fell short of capturing Hutchins look and bearing of pain, as if enduring some unheard noise, as if he were bearing his assigned mission nobly, but wished constantly that he might be released for less burdensome service.

December 04, 2008

As the classical university unravels, students seek knowledge and know-how elsewhere.
Victor Davis Hanson | City Journal - A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute

Until recently, classical education served as the foundation of the wider liberal arts curriculum, which in turn defined the mission of the traditional university. Classical learning dedicated itself to turning out literate citizens who could read and write well, express themselves, and make sense of the confusion of the present by drawing on the wisdom of the past. Students grounded in the classics appreciated the history of their civilization and understood the rights and responsibilities of their unique citizenship. Universities, then, acted as cultural custodians, helping students understand our present values in the context of a 2,500-year tradition that began with the ancient Greeks.

But in recent decades, classical and traditional liberal arts education has begun to erode, and a variety of unexpected consequences have followed. The academic battle has now gone beyond the in-house "culture wars" of the 1980s. Though the argument over politically correct curricula, controversial faculty appointments, and the traditional mission of the university is ongoing, the university now finds itself being bypassed technologically, conceptually, and culturally, in ways both welcome and disturbing.


November 14, 2008

Speaking in Charlotte, Notre Dame scholar Ralph McInerny discusses the classics and what went wrong.
Jane Shaw, John William Pope Center For Higher Education Policy
November 10, 2008
Why do modern humanities professors hate the Western canon, the so-called Great Books that once defined a liberal arts education? Ralph McInerny, a professor of philosophy and medieval studies at Notre Dame University—and also the author of the popular Father Dowling mystery series—has an answer.
It isn't just relativism (or, in McInerny's words, the idea that it's as important to teach Tarzan as Hamlet) or the claim that classical scholars push the works of "dead white males" in order to control society. The reason, says McInerny, is that most of the Great Books are "were written under Christian auspices." Their religious underpinning is obvious in the works of authors such as Dante, but also "inescapable" in those of Chaucer and Shakespeare. Furthermore, the non-Christian parts of the canon, such as those by Plato and Aristotle, were written under the assumption that providence, or a divine mind, governs human life.
This is an idea that many modern academics cannot stand, said McInerny.
McInerny shared his thoughts about Great Books at an evening lecture in Charlotte on November 6. His talk before an audience of about 100 people was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Pope Center.