An Hour of Monastic Silence in Media Studies Class (plus an awesome drum solo)

I announced that my 300-level Media and Culture class would spend an hour in monastic silence, collaborating on a Google Doc. I expected the students would understand I was helping them get into the mood to appreciate the 14th century setting of The Name of the Rose. What I didn’t expect was an awesome drum solo. I had already encouraged my students to approach The Name of the Rose the…

‘A slow-motion disaster’: Journalism museum in talks about possible building sale

Last year, SHU did not sponsor a bus trip to Washington D.C., so I did not arrange a field trip to the Newseum. Seeing a chunk of the Berlin Wall, an antenna from the World Trade Center in front of a display of 9/11 front pages from around the world, Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski’s cabin, and historical printing presses were highlights for me. This humble educator did think that the building…

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

It was pleasurable to encounter a familiar reference to Plato’s Phaedrus (which I just assigned in my Media & Culture class) in this Atlantic article on memory in the digital information age. With its streaming services and Wikipedia articles, the internet has lowered the stakes on remembering the culture we consume even further. But it’s hardly as if we remembered it all before. Plato was a famous early curmudgeon when…

During World War II, Literature Reigned Supreme

Books symbolized freedom. Posters of 1942 quoted the president: “Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons.” During the Blitz, Muriel Rukeyser recalled, “newspapers in America…

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Socrates envisaged a time when we would forget how to remember.

From Daisy Dunn’s review of Puchner’s The Written World: Socrates envisaged a time when we would forget how to remember. The Iliad, the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Indian epic Ramayanahad been preserved through an oral tradition that seemed destined to perish through overreliance on papyrus. Akhmatova remembered because she had to but Socrates simply chose to. He is one of many great thinkers to have earned a place in Puchner’s book on…