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…

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Jane Eyre and the Invention of the Self

Those who remember Jane Eyre solely as required reading in high-school English class likely recall most vividly its over-the-top Gothic tropes: a childhood banishment to a death-haunted room, a mysterious presence in the attic, a Byronic hero, and a cold mansion going up in flames. It’s more seemingly the stuff of Lifetime television, not revolutions. But as unbelievable as many of the events of the novel are, even today, Brontë’s biggest accomplishment…

Apology of Socrates, By Plato

Aristotle classified Plato’s work, representing Socrates’s defense against charges that he corrupted the youth of Athens, as a fiction. But what words! What a defense! (“Greatest mind of history / Solving life’s sweet mystery.” —Schwartz) For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons and your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of…

Certainty vs. uncertainty: “In which are we more likely to be deceived, and in which has rhetoric the greater power?”

I’ve taught Plato’s Phaedrus before, but in the past I have mostly focused on brief passages in which the characters discuss writing, which is really just a side issue. The purpose of today is mostly just to accustom my “History and Future of the Book” students to oral classical culture, in the hopes they’ll get more out of their exposure to Plato’s Apology of Socrates (which is on the syllabus…