Tag Archives: Liberal Arts

Lit Produces Good Voters

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that reading literature, and reading it critically, prepares one to be a good citizen who can vote responsibly.

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Bring the Liberal Arts to West Point

A military man argues that the military academies have been emphasizing the STEM disciplines while overlooking the traditional liberal arts. This is a mistake, he argues, and mentions the Agincourt speech in “Henry V.” Sir Philip Sidney, another warrior, would agree and would add Pindar’s Olympian odes.

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The Liberal Arts Will Not Die

Thursday My colleague Jeff Hammond, a national authority on Puritan poetry and a much lauded writer of reflective essays, recently gave a stirring defense of the liberal arts for our parents-alumni weekend. Jeff’s observations dovetail very nicely with Percy Shelley’s Defence of Poetry, which I happen to be teaching at the moment. Watching poetry getting […]

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Liberal Arts–Only for Elites?

Frank Bruni and Fareed Azkaria may be guilty of Matthew Arnold-type class superiority as they argue that a liberal arts education is useful for power elites.

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Using Lucille Clifton to Defend the Arts

There’s a decline in English majors at elite universities. We use a Lucille Clifton poem to respond.

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No Frigate Like a Liberal Arts Education

Phi Beta Kappa’s John Churchill lectured our new inductees on Emily Dickinson and the vital importance of a liberal arts education for all.

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Tollbooth to a Liberal Arts Education

Adam Gopnik argues that Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth” is a manifesto for the liberal arts.

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Advice to Freshmen – Negative Capability

Developing what John Keats described as negative capability can help students be more successful in college.

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Answer the Door, Child–Truth is Knocking

We had our major awards ceremony this past Saturday. As is tradition, we began with a poem by Lucille Clifton that she allowed us to adapt slightly for the occasion.Our president then gave one of his patented speeches, this one centered on Plato’s Meno. It was exactly what I wanted our students to hear: a full-blown defense of the liberal arts.

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Meaning Is the Meaning of the Liberal Arts

When Frost’s tree falls in front of us, it can mean two things (at least). Literally, it’s a hassle. To the unexamined life, that’s all it will ever be. Get down and clear it away. On the other hand, there’s that question of meaning and where it comes from. Human beings do their best when their actions are invested with significance. That’s why we have ceremonies, like this one, to compel us to stop (because time itself doesn’t do so on its own), take some time, reflect on the significance of what is happening to us.

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The Classics, Better than Business Guides

The Republic, The Art of War, The Social Contract, The Prince, and the Tao Te Ching gave me a way of understanding the broader implications of the business choices I was making. They helped me look beyond the immediate challenges to find a greater purpose. My individual efforts seemed part of a legacy of thinkers and doers who had come before.

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Ignoring Books–Another Way to Burn Them

Read, reflect, act.  That is my vision for how we should respond to literature.  Therefore I was pleased to see a version of this advice appearing in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  I’m reading Bradbury’s dystopia because I will be leading a discussion of it tom0rrow as part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big […]

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