Tag: Yale

Post War American Novel – Yale Syllabus

Richard Wright, Black Boy (American Hunger) (Harper Perennial Restored edition, 1993) 1945
Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1949
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Vintage) 1955
Jack Kerouac, On the Road (Penguin) 1957
J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (Little, Brown) 1961
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse (Anchor) 1963-68 (selections)
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (HarperCollins) 1967
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (Knopf) 1970
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (Vintage) 1976 (selections)
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (Picador) 1980
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Vintage) 1985
Philip Roth, The Human Stain (Houghton Mifflin) 2000
Edward P. Jones, The Known World (Amistad) 2003
Jonathan Safran Foer,  Everything Is Illuminated (Mariner Books) 2005 (The student choice book for the class they had the podcast for, which was in 2008)

Course Number
ENGL 291

About the Course
In “The American Novel Since 1945” students will study a wide range of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces the formal and thematic developments of the novel in this period, focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the conditions of publishing, innovations in the novel’s form, fiction’s engagement with history, and the changing place of literature in American culture. The reading list includes works by Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Edward P. Jones. The course concludes with a contemporary novel chosen by the students in the class.

Course Structure
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2008

Three Cheers for Thrasybulus

So, if we look at Athens in 401, the democracy has been completely restored and I’d like to draw my comments about this to a close by focusing on Thrasybulus, a man, who I think probably none of you had ever heard his name when you came into this class. You had heard of Pericles, you may have heard of Themistocles, you heard lots of different Athenians, but you never heard of Thrasybulus. So, you might be surprised to hear the following. Cornelius Nepos, a Roman historian of the first century B.C., in writing lives of famous Greeks and Romans, wrote the following about Thrasybulus: “If excellence were to be weighed by itself, apart from luck, I believe I would rank this man first of all. This much is certain, I put no one ahead of him in sense of honor, steadfastness, greatness of soul, and love of country.” That isn’t bad but it’s not the end.

A few years before 180 A.D., Pausanias the great travel writer of antiquity, wrote his guide to the famous and historic places of ancient Greece. In the section on Athens, he described the graves of the heroes and men that lined the roads outside the city beginning with the one leading to the place known as The Academy. Here’s what Pausanias the travel writer says, “The first is that of Thrasybulus, son of Lycus, in every way the greatest of all famous Athenians, whether they lived before or after him.” Think of all the names that are involved in that and maybe the weight of Pausanias’ general comparison is intensified by something a little bit more specific, because the next words in Pausanias’ account are these: “His is the first grave and after it comes that of Pericles,” just in case you thought he missed Pericles by mistake.

Now, that’s extraordinary and there’s a great puzzle that I can’t solve and probably never can be solved. How could it be that these fellows who lived centuries afterwards said these things about Thrasybulus and we have never heard of him? I mean barely heard of him. I mean, the best answer I can give you is there must have been lost histories, and we know there are of the period, and they must have given Thrasybulus the kind of credit for his remarkable achievements that don’t show up in Xenophon and Diodorus and the orators. But we at last, and you have an obligation to future generations, must not let the name of Thrasybulus lie in obscurity again, and just so that you don’t forget him, remember he is the only Greek I know whose name fits a Yale fight song — Thrasybulus, Thrasybulus.

Robert Kagan, Lecture 21 – The Struggle for Hegemony in Fourth-Century Greece

Up There and Down Here / The Prince of Persia

There’s also a spatial dualism. There’s a dualism of up there and down here, and so you have things that go on on the earth are simply shadows of what’s going on actually in the heavens. It’s like every country, according to Daniel, has its own prince, by that he means some kind of angelic being. The Prince of Persia refers in Daniel to some huge angelic super human being who actually rules Persia. The Prince of Judah, the angel of Judah tends to be Michael or some other angel that you’ve probably heard of, like Raphael. Each of the nations has its own angel so you can imagine sort of that Russia has its angel, and so then America has its angel, and if Russia and America were to go to war this would be actually simply an earthly shadow type reflection of the true reality which would be going on as the angel of Russia was battling the angel of America in heaven. So everything that goes on in our cosmos is simply a mirror image of these battles that are going on the heavens. So that’s another dualism of space.

Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature
RLST 152 – Lecture 23 – Apocalyptic and Resistance
Dale B. Martin

First Memorial Day, Charleston, South Carolina

African-Americans invented Memorial Day, in Charleston, South Carolina. There are three or four cities in the United States, North and South, that claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day, but they all claim 1866; they were too late. I had the great, blind, good fortune to discover this story in a messy, totally disorganized collection of veterans’ papers at the Houghton Library at Harvard some years back. And what you have there is black Americans, recently freed from slavery, announcing to the world, with their flowers and their feet and their songs, what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a second American Revolution. That story got lost, it got lost for more than a century. And when I discovered it, I started calling people in Charleston that I knew in archives and libraries, including the Avery Institute, the black research center in Charleston — “Has anybody, have you ever heard of this story?” And no one had ever heard it. It showed the power of the Lost Cause in the wake of the war to erase a story. But I started looking for other sources, and lo and behold there were lots of sources. Harper’s Weekly even had a drawing of the cemetery in an 1867 issue. The old oval of that racetrack is still there today. If you ever go to Charleston go up to Hampton Park. Hampton Park is today what the racecourse was then. It’s named for Wade Hampton, the white supremacist, redeemer, and governor of South Carolina at the end of Reconstruction and a Confederate General during the Civil War. And that park sits immediately adjacent to the Citadel, the Military Academy of Charleston. On any given day you can see at any given time about 100 or 200 Citadel cadets jogging on the track of the old racecourse. There is no marker, there’s no memento, there’s only a little bit of a memory. Although a few years ago a friend of mine in Charleston organized a mock ceremony where we re-enacted that event, including the children’s choir, and they made me dress up in a top hat and a funny old nineteenth century suit and made me get up on a podium and make a stupid speech. But there is an effort, at least today, to declare Hampton Park a National Historic Landmark. See you Thursday.

The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877
HIST 119 – Lecture 19 – To Appomattox and Beyond: The End of the War and a Search for Meanings
David Blight

Essential Heresies: Manicheanism

Now, Manicheans are not exactly a heresy, but they appear in the Confessions, and they’re very important. So since we’re doing doctrinal ideas, Manicheanism is a teaching about good and evil that can be applied to other religions besides Christianity. Manicheanism basically says that good and evil have a real existence. There is a war in the universe between a good god and an evil one. And this may be applied outside of Christianity or within Christianity.

And within Christianity, the evil god is the devil, or according to the Manicheans of this period that Augustine for a while joined, the god of the Old Testament. Jehovah is the evil god, and the god of the New Testament, the Christian god, is the good one. Jehovah is the one who smites a lot of people. Jehovah is the creator god, because the Manicheans believed that matter is evil and is the source of evil. Spirit is good. The Christian god created spirit. Human beings are imprisoned in the body, and they have to figure out a way to liberate themselves from the dominion of the evil god. Vegetarianism, for a start, avoiding flesh.

But salvation means casting off the flesh. How is this different from Christianity? And doesn’t this sound to you like regular old Christianity, mistrust of the flesh? The devil is identified with sexual desire or physicality, generally. Manicheanism is very useful as an explanation of evil. And this may not be something that keeps you up at night, but it will at some point, intermittently.

Yale Open U – The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000, HIST 210 – Lecture 4 – The Christian Roman Empire, Paul Freedman

Higher Naivete

Now, you might think of this as, indeed, gullible. A former colleague of mine put the thing very, very well. He spoke about, and I like to claim this approach, the position of scholarship to which we call the higher naiveté. The way this works is, you start out, you don’t know anything, and you’re naïve. You believe everything. Next, you get a college education and you don’t believe anything, and then you reach the level of wisdom, the higher naiveté, and you know what to believe even though you can’t prove it. Okay, be warned; I’m a practitioner of the higher naiveté. So, I think the way to deal with legends is to regard them as different from essentially sophisticated historical statements, but as possibly deriving from facts, which have obviously been distorted and misunderstood, misused and so on. But it would be reckless, it seems to me, to just put them aside and not ask yourself the question, “Can there be something believable at the root of this?”

And just to give you some small defense of that approach, I always like to ask students, “Suppose we didn’t have a single historical record, no newspaper, no diaries. You know nothing totally reliable for what happened in the latter part of the eighteenth century in America.” Would we know anything about what happened? Of course, we would. We would know that there was a revolution; it was against Great Britain. I’m sure we would know that the French assisted in that. I am certain we would know that George Washington was the commander of our forces in our battle. Those are easy. There’s no getting around reading those things, and then it gets to be more interesting as we speculate. We would know as a fact that George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River, except that it’s impossible. So, we would dismiss that one. We would be told that he was very honest and told his father he chopped down a cherry tree, which would be baloney, but we would be told that too. But I think we would be told also very many true things, which came down to us. So, the hard job would be to select among these legendary things, to see what fact can be found, and it will never be easy or deadly certain. But that’s what I’m talking about here.

CLCV 205: Introduction to Ancient Greek History
Lecture 3 – The Dark Ages (cont.), Donald Kagan

What are some good college courses on iTunes?

Two classes I enjoyed and recommend without reservation. (I selected the audio classes. I think you can pick video if you want.)

Via Yale:
The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877, David Blight
(HIST 119) This course explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history. Those meanings may be defined in many ways: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic; slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process; the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society; and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction. This course was recorded in Spring 2008.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History, Donald Kagan
(CLCV 205) This is an introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars. This course was recorded in Fall 2007.