What’s in a blog?

Hello, LSH Students!

Since I am reading all your blogs, comments, and papers, I don’t have much time left to write my own blog.  One thing I can do, however, is recommend interesting blog sites to you as you consider this relatively new genre in the context of this course and your own thinking and writing.  I hope you have  had a chance to look at The Huffington Post (as per your reading in Week 1).  If not, please do so: explore for ten minutes or so just to see what a blog can do.

This next example (link below) is something completely different, written by a friend of mine: I love the concept, combining food and literature.  If you find a blog you like, please leave a comment here recommending it to me and the class!

http://gluttonousbookworm.com/2012/11/09/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe-by-c-s-lewis/

:) JDU

Pedagogy, Pederasty, and the Profane

If you are interested in the history of education, a topic embedded in the foundations of LSH 240, please watch the lecture Amy Richlin gave at USM on Thursday, October 18.  The link is posted below (scroll forward to minute 5–the recording starts about 5.5 minutes before the lecture actually begins).

Amy Richlin, a top scholar in the field of classics and Professor of Classics at UCLA, has written some of my very favorite books and articles in the humanities.  She has spent decades researching gender and sexuality in Greek and Roman texts, and she has translated Roman comedy for students and for the stage; she currently directs UCLA’s post-baccalaureate program in classics.  What is more, she is an engaging person with a curious mind whose interests range far beyond the ancient world.  In this lecture, Amy Richlin takes up the normative ancient Greek tradition of pederasty (the erotic relationship between an older man and a younger boy/youth) and investigates how later Christian education dealt with this inheritance from the ancient world.  She does not limit her presentation to pederasty but also explores ancient texts that would have been considered “profane” by Christian standards and explores how later teachers and students dealt with these texts in a Christian classroom. She explores the tension in a scholarly community that values ancient texts, including, for example, erotic poetry but understands those texts to be profane and therefore inappropriate to a Christian curriculum.  She also explores students’ reactions to texts that have been expurgated (had profane references removed).  The lecture is fascinating, offering a history of the use of and reaction to profane texts in the classroom from about 400-1800 AD.

The questions Professor Richlin asks of the texts she studies are closely related to the questions we will ask of the texts we will study this semester.  While our focus will not be on the profane per se, we will ask why education has developed in the way it has and why and how certain texts and materials become part of an educational cannon while others do not.  We will also consider how and why educational cannons change.  I hope you enjoy this presentation!

LINK:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q10QyRJCkM

Ancient and Modern

Today I uploaded a photograph onto the LSH 240 Blackboard site (also seen below) that I took on a three week study trip I led to Greece in May-June 2012.  When I took the photo, I was standing in the Athenian agora (the ancient marketplace), which is now an archaeological park in the heart of Athens; the backdrop of this photo is the modern graffiti on the retaining wall separating the sunken metro tracks from the Monastiraki district; however, between the edge of the archaeological park and that retaining wall, and separated from the rest of the archaeological park by a wall and the metro tracks, is an ancient building known as the  Stoa (House/Seat/Building) of the Archon Basileus (“Ruler King”), one of the nine top magistrates who governed Athens in the fifth century BC (the 400s BC).

My interest in this site is not for the historical significance of the Archon Basileus, whose duties were both religious and judicial and whose position was a holdover from a time when Athens had been a monarchy.  My interest is in this site stems from the juxtaposition of antiquity and modernity we see in this image: we see the remains of a fifth century BC building against the backdrop of 21st century graffiti; we see an archaeological site bisected by the tracks of Athens’ new metro.  We see an ancient archaeological site defined in part by the needs of the modern city but at the same time preserved for posterity.  This image is an excellent analogue for our work this semester.  In this course we will consider the history of the study of the humanities at the same time that we both consider the role of the humanities in contemporary education and society  and also attempt to imagine what the future of the humanities might be.  We will read texts from the ancient world and the modern, both primary and secondary sources, and we will ask what holds those texts together under the common umbrella “humanities.”

Over the next seven weeks, I encourage you to return to this image and recall that the past and the present are always juxtaposed: there is no present without the past, no understanding of the past without the present.  We cannot escape our modern cultural context, although that context is, in ways we cannot always grasp or describe clearly or cleanly, a product of what came before.  I hope this image will bring you inspiration and also comfort as we attempt to answer the questions posed by this course.

Welcome, LSH Students!

Greetings, and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!  I am not a blogger myself (at least I wasn’t before today!), but I do read blogs, I have friends and students who blog, I use a WordPress site to teach intermediate ancient Greek (check it out at http://www.cyropaedia.org), and I have noticed that an interesting variety of institutions are using WordPress and similar sites to communicate with their audiences.  If you are following the presidential election, you may have noticed that bloggers seem to be playing a powerful new role in the political sphere as well!  All this is to say that if you haven’t blogged before, you should be excited about the prospect of writing in this new medium, something we might think of as a new literary genre!  If you don’t have a favorite blog, take some time to find blogs you like that you can recommend to the class.  More soon!