A Hearty Congratulations…

…to affiliates of the Core, Emanuel “Ami” Katz and Stephen Kalberg, for their promotions to full professor on our Charles River Campus! Stephen Kalberg is a prolific writer who has published a total of twelve books, and his focus is on the German social theorist Max Weber. Ami Katz is a brilliant physicist, a frequent speaker at both national and international conferences, and published often in premier physics journals.

Both of them are pillars of the Core community, and their promotions are certainly deserved.

Looking for something to do on Valentines Day?

Here are some local happenings for you:


Brave men and women read from old journals and share the good and the bad of their teenage years.

For one night only, Mortified is titillated to join the award-winning, neo-burlesque darlings of Rogue Burlesque! Join us for a Valentines Day extravaganza of diaries and dancing that celebrates the most hilariously awkward moments of teenage love, sex, and awkwardness. Thats right, double awkwardness!

Emotional AND literal stripping! Come on. Get those tix, chicksndix.

Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m., $15 in advance, $18 at the door, $12 for students. Coolidge Corner Theatre. 617-734-2500.



Hideout Comedy Presents: A very special Valentines Day!

Join some of the best comedians in Boston as they spend their Valentines day with you! Come with a loved one, come with your single friends, come alone! $10

Hideout Week is a full week of stand up comedy happening at The Hideout, happening from 2/13/2018-2/18/2018. Join us for what promises to be an unforgettable time!

Feb. 13 – Feb. 18, $10. The Hideout. Doors @ 7:30; Show @ 8:00. 21+. Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hideout-comedy-presents-a-very-special-valentines-day-tickets-42112279963



Anybody who believes “tis better to have loved and lost” has clearly never had their heart ripped out of their chest and stomped into the ground. Join us for a night of comedy showcasing the hilarity of heartbreak and the funny to be found in falling in love.

Thorns features some of New England’s best artists performing improv, storytelling, standup, songs, films, rants and whatever else they need to do to express their torment and/or joy around love.

Proceeds from ticket sales for Thorns will benefit the TC Cheever Family Trust and The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital in loving memory of Thorns co-creator, TC Cheever.

Feb. 14th at 7:30pm. One night only. Tickets are $18.00, $14 students



What was love like in Colonial America? The enduring love letters of John and Abigail Adams provide an insightful picture of 18th-century American life in the Boston area in beyond. These intimate letters also reveal the intellectually and emotionally fulfilling relationship between them that lasted 54 years and withstood historical upheavals, long periods apart, and personal tragedies. Their iconic personalities come to life as actors from the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum read a selection of letters and reveal, in the words of John and Abigail Adams, their teasing humor and their undying love and respect for each other.

$39 per person/$69 per couple, Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018, doors open 6:30pm, and show starts 7pm., Abigails Tea Room at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum



No, you wont actually be naked. This version of Watson Adventures scavenger hunt will send you on a tour of the MFA to locate nudes and other risqu works of art. Attend with your significant other for a romantic romp through the museumor go with a friend for kicks and giggles.

$40, Friday, February 13, 6:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15, 1 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, watsonadventures.com.



For anyone who has ever breezed through South Station and thought, This place needs dancing, New School Swing agreed. Their free swing dance event will begin with a lindy hop lesson at 8 p.m., followed by the social dance from 9 to 11 p.m. with live music by Phil McGowan and the Easy Winners.

Free, Saturday, February 14, lesson at 8 p.m., social at 9 p.m., South Station, Boston, south-station.net.



The chocolate and wine tasting kickoff is for adults, but visit Salem anytime February 6 through 15 to see 15 large ice sculptures placed throughout town. Weather permitting, the Salem Trolley will give rides around the festival route February 7 and 8.

Free to attend, February 6-15, Downtown Salem, salemmainstreets.org.



Society of Grownups

1653 Beacon Street

Brookline, MA 02445

(617) 505-3636


Date: Feb. 14, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Avoid crowded restaurants and other romantic venues by heading to the Society of Grownups headquarters in Brookline for a fun night of trivia. Sure to be full of 20-something and 30-something singles, this is a great way for singles to avoid Valentines Day, have fun and meet new people. Who knows, maybe you will meet someone you can spend Valentines Day 2016 with but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Head over to the Society of Grownups and show of your smarts.



Tsai Performance Centre

685 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215

(617) 353-8725


Date: Feb. 14, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Nothing to do on Valentines Day, but dont want to sit at home? Head out and enjoy some a capella! This concert is a tournament of the areas best collegiate talent competing to make it to the Northeast Semifinals. Grab some friends and enjoy a night of great music and fun. This, of course, will particularly appeal to live music lovers and anyone that has seen the box office hit Pitch Perfect. You are sure to leave the auditorium happy and singing and totally oblivious to the fact that another dateless Valentines Day has passed by.



Beginner’s Workshop to prepare the songs 6:30 – 7:15 pm $15 Adult. $5 Kid.
Ukulele Jam of songs of heartbreak 7:30 – 9:30 pm FREE

Walter Baker Artist Lofts
1231 Adams Street



Calling all chocoholics! Let us romance your senses on a Harvard Square, Cambridge Chocolate Tour!

Join us for a delectable adventure through historical Harvard Square. You’ll hear interesting stories about the Square, learn fun facts about chocolate, and sample the best and most interesting chocolaty treats around. Located right outside of Boston in Cambridge on the Red Line MBTA Train Stop, Harvard Square is home to Harvard University and also has a flourishing food scene with some of the best and most unique food in the city. As a fun Valentine’s Day treat, we are offering a Harvard Square chocolate tour this Winter.

Each tour is a fun 75-90 minutes and includes 4-6 stops with plenty of treats and less than a mile of walking. We can’t wait to take you on a unique, chocolate adventure!

This tour is suitable for all ages. Must purchase tickets in advance.



Boston SciFi is gearing up for it’s 43rd year, making it the oldest genere festival in the country! Chill this winter with the best way to binge view cutting-edge SciFi before it hits Netflix or theaters.

Boston SciFi aka SF43, has award-winning films, premieres, guest directors, classic films, and an awesome collection of shorts. And there is more. Presentations, Panels, SciFi Kids, and the festivals iconic 24-hour Marathon Finale aka The ‘Thon. Think of it as the original binge viewing with over 600 of your closest friends – New & old classics, some surprises, a sing-a-long, contests, guests and more.


Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Sq

On Mice and Not Knowing


The Enlightenment was… many things. To seek to define it in one word would, perhaps, be a display of great arrogance. And of course, none of us here with the Core have anywhere near enough self-esteem to be considered arrogant. One of the definitions of Enlightenment, and perhaps the most common, is thus: the Enlightenment was a period in time during which many great intellectuals made many great advancements in philosophy. (Whatever that means.)One such intellectual went by the pen name of Voltaire, and one such advancement was the notion that reason is limited — that there is only so much one can know. This had, of course, been pointed out before, often in religious contexts, but the notion underwent a revival during the Enlightenment and was championed by Voltaire. He put it quite eloquently, as was his wont, in a letter to his then-friend Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

Es hat nicht den Anschein, als knnte man die Urprinzipien der Dinge jemals erkennen. Die Muse, die ein paar winzige Lcher in einem riesigen Gebude bewohnen, wissen nicht, ob dieses Gebude ewigen Bestand hat, noch wer sein Baumeister ist, noch weshalb dieser Baumeister es erbaut hat. Sie mhen sich ihr Leben zu erhalten, ihre Lcher zu bevlkern und den zerstrerischen Bestien zu fliehen, die sie verfolgen. Wir sind die Muse, und der gttliche Baumeister, der dieses Universum errichtete, hat sein Geheimnis, soweit ich darum wei, noch keinem von uns verraten.
It seems unlikely that the first things can ever be known. The mice living in a few holes of an immense building do not know if the building is eternal, who is the architect, or why the architect built it. They try to preserve their lives, to populate their holes, and to escape the destructive animals which pursue them. We are the mice and the divine architect who built this universe has not yet, so far as I know, told his secret to any of us.
[English translation by Prof. James Schmidt, as quoted in his lecture on the Enlightenment for CC 202]

The idea, then, is that we, poor mice scrabbling about in our little mouse-holes, can never really understand the designs of the architect who built our building. Add to concept the discussion that Voltaire often skirts around — that is, whether there is an architect, whether there is, in other words, a God — and the question becomes even more confused. Can we ever know our purpose? Can we ever know how all this got started? Is there a purpose?

We dunno. Neither did Voltaire, though, so it’s cool.

Illustration above by Julian Williams

Three Nineteenth-Century Poets on Night

Now that we’re in the thick of the semester, we’re all lacking for a full night’s sleep. Here is what three of the English Romantics had to say about the subject of night.

The Sun Has Long Been Set

William Wordsworth

The sun has long been set,
The stars are out by twos and threes,
The little birds are piping yet
Among the bushes and trees;
Theres a cuckoo, and one or two thrushes,
And a far-off wind that rushes,
And a sound of water that gushes,
And the cuckoos sovereign cry
Fills all the hollow of the sky.
Who would go parading
In London, and masquerading,”
On such a night of June
With that beautiful soft half-moon,
And all these innocent blisses?
On such a night as this is!

To Night

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Swiftly walk oer the western wave,
Spirit of the Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,
Swift be thy flight!

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander oer city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand
Come, long-sought!

When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.

Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovd Night
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!

To Sleep

John Keats

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embowerd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities;
Then save me, or the passd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oild wards,
And seal the hushd casket of my soul.

Find the poems here, here, and here, respectively.

Ancient Advice for a Good Life

Need some life advice? (I know I do.) Unsure about how best to handle love, longing, academics, et al.? (Yes to all of the above.) Why not ask the ancients for advice? BU’s very own Professor Varhelyi asked this final question when confronted with students’ concerns, and decided to pursue it further. In collaboration with Arts & Sciencesmagazine, she created a sort of advice column, treated as though it were wisdom from ancient thinkers (all told through the mouth of the goddess Athena herself!). Varhelyi not only answers common life questions with the all the sage wisdom a professor of ancient thinkers can provide, she then adds a short discussion about the philosopher she referenced in her answer.An excerpt:

“Dear Athena: My boyfriend and I have great chemistry, but its a different story beyond the bedroom. We dont have anything to talk about at restaurants, so we end up on our phones. We really have nothing in commonbut Ive never been so attracted to anyone. How can I turn lust into love?

Athena: Plato (427347 BCE, Greece) would have us believe that humans were originally spherical, with four arms, four legs, and a single head with two faces. They ran by turning cartwheels. When these foolish creatures got too cocky and took on the gods, Zeus split them in two. Now, we roam the Earth in search of our other halves, longing to be whole again. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man, wrote Plato in Symposium (translation by Benjamin Jowett). Thats why it isnt enough to have a partner who only offers physical pleasure, and why it does matter that you and your boyfriend have nothing in common. This man is not your other half, so dont waste your time on him. Go find the one person on this planet who will complete you.”

Bet you never thought to apply Platonic values to your sex life, but Professor Varhelyi did. Check it out here!

On libraries

By: Carmen Bugan







Feeling nostalgic for the Bodleian, here I turn to Charles Lamb, who wrote:

What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers that have bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians, were reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odour of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard. Charles Lamb, fromOxford in the Vacation

Source: https://carmenbugan.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/on-libraries/

Required reading for the world?

WS07-book-recreatede recently asked our followers on Facebook what books they believe should be universally required reading. We present for your consideration the following list of recommendations, representing a wide range (as you can see) of interests, eras, and genres:

Feel free to let us know what books YOU believe should be added to this list, with a comment below. (And while you’re thinking about these topics, why don’t you check out this list of books on the Core webpage, all suggested by Core alums, students, and friends as possible candidates to be added to the Core reading list if the time ever comes that we get more class time and can expand the curriculum.)

The graphic above was used in the Spring of 2004 for the Core teeshirt design.

Zadie Smith and the value of the humanities

Zadie Smith is a writer and essayist who brings with her an modern, multicultural outlook on art and expression. As Dwight Gardner writes in The New York Times:

Smith, who is English-Jamaican, has prized open in her fiction a modern, multicultural, post-post-colonial England. In addition to being devastatingly good, her novels describe the ways society has changed in advance of phenomena like to give just one example the arrival of a figure like Meghan Markle as the Duchess of Sussex”

She also supplies newemphasis on the humanities and their importance today. Consider how she uses Milton to describe Jay-Z: “Asking why rappers always talk about their stuff is like asking why Milton is forever listing the attributes of heavenly armies. Because boasting is a formal condition of the epic form.”

Smith is a fascinating writer and we are excited to hear more from her later this semester when she visits the Tsai Performance Center for a talk on writing with Christopher Lydon. (Core is a co-sponsor!) This is is first in a lecture series proposed as an annual event highlighting the importance of the humanities at the heart of the arts and sciences. Below are the details and Facebook event.

HuffPo Study Indicates that Reading is “In”

We here at the Core Curriculum are big fans of reading– big fans. The books we read are the foundations of our knowledge; they shape us as we grow. etc., etc. Books are important to us, is what we’re saying. So, when we saw that ol’ HuffPo had published an article on how to make reading more of a habit, we are eager to share it with you. Without further ado:

How To Make Reading More Of A Habit

Winter Book Recommendations

Lisbeth reading by Carl Larsson, 1904. (via WikiArt)

Lisbeth reading by Carl Larsson, 1904. (via WikiArt)

Happy holidays, Corelings! Finals have at last come to an end, and now we have surfaced the ocean of studies and stress. Planes, trains, and cars are rapidly arriving to whisk us back home (for those of us returning home for winter break), and–oh no. You’ve forgotten to purchase gifts for your beau, your belle, your mom and dad, your beloved feline friend. Have no fear! We at Core have compiled a list of twelve books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction that would make wonderful gifts for the scholars in your life. Provided are the titles, authors, blurbs, and, conveniently, links where you may acquire these works.

  1. The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft
    The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraftcollects the author’s novel, four novellas, and fifty-three short stories. Written between the years 1917 and 1935, this collection features Lovecraft’s trademark fantastical creatures and supernatural thrills, as well as many horrific and cautionary science-fiction themes, that have influenced some of today’s writers and filmmakers, including Stephen King, Alan Moore, F. Paul Wilson, Guillermo del Toro, and Neil Gaiman. Included in this volume are The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “The Color Out of Space,” “The Dunwich Horror,” and many more hair-raising tales.” (Link)
  2. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems
    “InEdgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poemsfans may indulge in all of Poe’s most imaginative short-stories, includingThe Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in Rue Morgue, The Tell-Tale Heart, LigeiaandMs. In a Bottle. His complete early and miscellaneous poetic masterpieces are here also, includingThe Raven, Ulalume, Annabel Lee, Tamerlane, as well as select reviews and narratives.” (Link)
  3. The Dark Eidolon and Other FantasiesbyClark Ashton Smith
    “Clark Ashton Smithautodidact, prolific poet, amateur philosopher, bizarre sculptor, and unmatched storytellersimply wrote like no one else, before or since. This new collection of his very best tales and poems is selected and introduced by supernatural literature scholar S. T. Joshi and allows readers to encounter Smiths visionary brand of fantastical, phantasmagorical worlds, each one filled with invention, terror, and a superlative sense of metaphysical wonder.” (Link)
  4. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho translated by Anne Carson
    “Of the nine books of lyrics the ancient Greek poet Sappho is said to have composed, only one poem has survived complete. The rest are fragments. In this miraculous new translation, acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson presents all of Sapphos fragments, in Greek and in English, as if on the ragged scraps of papyrus that preserve them, inviting a thrill of discovery and conjecture that can be described only as electricor, to use Sapphos words, as thin fire . . . racing under skin.Carson is in many ways [Sappho’s] ideal translator….Her command of language is hones to a perfect edge and her approach to the text, respectful yet imaginative, results in verse that lets Sappho shine forth.” (Link)
  5. The Poems of Catullus
    “Of all Greek and Latin poets Catullus is perhaps the most accessible to the modern reader. Dealing candidly with the basic human emotions of love and hate, his virile, personal tone exerts a powerful appeal on all kinds of readers. The 116 poems collected in this new translation include the famous Lesbia poems and display the full range of Catullus’s mastery of lyric meter, mythological themes, and epigrammatic invective and wit.” (Link)
  6. Byron: Poems
    “To the nineteenth-century reader, George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), was the archetype of the Romantic literary hero, a figure admired and emulated as much for the revolutionary panache with which he lived his life as the brio and allure of his verse. Our century has seen him more clearly as a poet whose intellectual toughness, satiric gifts, and utter inability to be boring have made him one of the great comic spirits in our literature.” (Link)
  7. Selected Lettersby John Keats
    “These extraordinary letters give the fullest and most poignant record we have of John Keatss aspirations as a poet, his life as a literary man about town, his close relationship with his siblings, and, later, his passionate, jealous, and frustrated love for Fanny Brawne. With an insightful introduction and notes by renowned Keats scholar John Barnard, this is an indispensable companion to the works of one of the greatest poets of all time.” (Link)
  8. The Aeneid by Virgil, translated by David Ferry
    “‘I sing of arms and the man . . . ‘ So begins theAeneid, greatest of Western epic poems. Virgils story of the journey of Aeneas has been a part of our cultural heritage for so many centuries that its all too easy to lose sight of the poem itselfof its brilliantly cinematic depiction of the sack of Troy; the monstrous hunger of the harpies; the intensity of Didos love for the hero, and the blackness of her despair; and the violence that Aeneas and his men must endure before they can settle in Italy and build the civilization whose roots we still claim as our own. This new translation brings Virgils masterpiece newly to life for English-language readers. Its the first in centuries crafted by a translator who is first and foremost a poet, and it is a glorious thing. David Ferry has long been known as perhaps our greatest contemporary translator of Latin poetry, his translations of VirgilsEcloguesandGeorgicshaving established themselves as much-admired standards.” (Link)
  9. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
    “The first great adventure story in the Western canon,The Odysseyis a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty, and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home. In this fresh, authoritative version―the first English translation ofThe Odysseyby a woman―this stirring tale of shipwrecks, monsters, and magic comes alive in an entirely new way. Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, this engrossing translation matches the number of lines in the Greek original, thus striding at Homers sprightly pace and singing with a voice that echoes Homers music. WilsonsOdysseycaptures the beauty and enchantment of this ancient poem as well as the suspense and drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, from the cunning goddess Athena, whose interventions guide and protect the hero, to the awkward teenage son, Telemachus, who struggles to achieve adulthood and find his father; from the cautious, clever, and miserable Penelope, who somehow keeps clamoring suitors at bay during her husbands long absence, to the complicated hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this translation as a more fully rounded human being than ever before.” (Link)
  10. Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
    “The award-winning poet reinvents a genre in a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set in the present. Geryon, a young boy who is also a winged red monster, reveals the volcanic terrain of his fragile, tormented soul in an autobiography he begins at the age of five. As he grows older, Geryon escapes his abusive brother and affectionate but ineffectual mother, finding solace behind the lens of his camera and in the arms of a young man named Herakles, a cavalier drifter who leaves him at the peak of infatuation. When Herakles reappears years later, Geryon confronts again the pain of his desire and embarks on a journey that will unleash his creative imagination to its fullest extent. By turns whimsical and haunting, erudite and accessible, richly layered and deceptively simple, Autobiography of Red is a profoundly moving portrait of an artist coming to terms with the fantastic accident of who he is.” (Link)
  11. The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution (Studies on the History of Society and Culture) byDominique Godineau and Katherine Streip
    “During the French Revolution, hundreds of domestic and working-class women of Paris were interrogated, examined, accused, denounced, arrested, and imprisoned for their rebellious and often hostile behavior. Here, for the first time in English translation, Dominique Godineau offers an illuminating account of these female revolutionaries. As nurturing and tender as they are belligerent and contentious, these are not singular female heroines but the collective common women who struggled for bare subsistence by working in factories, in shops, on the streets, and on the home front while still finding time to participate in national assemblies, activist gatherings, and public demonstrations in their fight for the recognition of women as citizens within a burgeoning democracy.” (Link)
  12. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist byTim Ferdele
    (For our readers of drinking age only!) “From barflies to book clubs,Tequila Mockingbirdistheworld’s bestselling cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels,Tequila Mockingbirdalso includes bar bites, drinking games, and whimsical illustrations throughout.” (Link)