Gleanings from Bostonia

The following round-up of items of interest from BU’sBostonia magazine comes to us from alumna Cat Dossett (Core ’16, CAS ’18), an illustrator and writer living in the Boston area. For your interest and edification, here are their recommendations:

  • The News section tells us that BU mechanical engineers are usingkirigamito create robotic grabby hands. What’s kirigami, you ask?Think origami, but you cut the paper —kirirefers to cutting, andgamirefers to paper. Read more >>
  • From the “We’re reading” section comes a spotlight onFloating in a Most Peculiar Wayby Louis Chude-Sokei — a professor of English, holder of the George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American Studies, and director of the African American Studies Program. This book was one of the titles which winners of the various Core awards in Spring 2021 were invited to choose as a prize to honor their achievements in the classroom and the Core community; Cat received her copy as a gesture of thanks for her contribution to that year’s Core Journal as an alumni editor.Read more >>
  • There’s a new bust in town! Bostonia tells us about a new sculpture honoringElie Wiesel in the Human Rights Porch of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Wiesel, many readers will know, lectured in Core for a time. Michael Zank, a Core friend and lecturer, is quoted in the article. Sculptors employed medieval techniques to create this and other busts, like those of Rosa Parks and Howard Thurman. Cat remarks: “They look wonderful if a little surreal. Heads emerge from columns like wood-ear mushrooms…” Read more >>
  • “These are very weird stars,” says Prof. JJ Hermes.Lovely to see an astronomy article; too often we in the Core community forget about the natural sciences, as we grapple with Cervantes and Du Bois and Milton, but these disciplines are (and should be) a big part of Core. Read more >>

Ancient Gilgamesh tablet showcasing earliest form of literature returned to Iraq

Officials believe the artifact looted during the 1991 Gulf War was illegally imported into the U.S. in 2003, then sold and put on display in a Washington museum.



Hidden sketch revealed beneath Rembrandt’s The Night Watch

Who knew chalk could talk? Amsterdam restorers certainly did, as they discovered Rembrandt’s original chalk outline of The Night Watch.

“You may ask why is this so important? Well, it gives us the feeling we can peek over Rembrandts shoulder while he was working on The Night Watch.”

Read it here:Hidden sketch revealed beneath Rembrandt’s The Night Watch

Rembrandt's The Night Watch. The hidden sketch reveals evidence of a series of changes the artist made as he went along. Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP

Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. The hidden sketch reveals evidence of a series of changes the artist made as he went along. Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP

An Analysis of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” from the Wall Street Journal

Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal on Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, where the writer, Benjamin Shull, analyzes the poem’s timelessness and human truths.

So often in his poems, Whitman begins from particulars — individual people and the jobs they perform, fleeting impressions of nature — and then proceeds to meditate more broadly on the commonalities he feels with humanity, nay, the whole cosmos.” – Benjamin Shull

You can access the article through the Wall Street Journal website with a subscription:

Or through a BU database with your username and password:

Land Acknowledgments Are Just Moral Exhibitionism

Here’s a powerful reminder of our concerning actions as a nation in retribution to the immemorial owners of the lands we occupy.

These statements relieve the speaker and the audience of the responsibility to think about Indigenous peoples, at least until the next public event.



Core Tuesday Cultural Report

Hi fellow scholars! Here’s the Core Office bringing you once again the wonders of modern day interpretations of our beloved classics. We wanted to share with you a couple of clips referenced today in Prof. Hamill’s lecture on“Witnessing Tragedy in Euripides’ Hecuba”. Enjoy!

Queens of Syria tells the story of fifty women from Syria, all forced into exile in Jordan, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the Trojan Women, the timeless Ancient Greek tragedy about the plight of women in war.

What followed was an extraordinary moment of cross-cultural contact across millennia, in which women born in 20th century Syria found a blazingly vivid mirror of their own experiences in the stories of a queen, princesses and ordinary women like them, uprooted, enslaved, and bereaved by the Trojan War.

This last video is taken from the most famous aria from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, where we can see another “queen”, the Queen of the Night.


Playlist to study as an empiricist

Looking for an interesting, yet calming playlist that you can listen to while doing work? Well, look no further, as the Core Curriculum’s Professor Hamill has found this 11 hour playlist of ambient songs to transport you as you study:

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Students interested in learning more about empiricism can come to the Core Office, or contact us at !

Age of Viking settlement revealed using trees and astrophysics

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Samus Bellamy writes on dig site evidence that can place the date on the Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland that was discovered six decades ago.

To find out the details and see how he dissects a New York Times article on the story, check out this link.

A RECKONING IN BOSTON Film Screening Comes to the BBF

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What was supposed to be a documentary about Dorchester residents enrolled in a humanities course turned into an exploration of racism, violence, and justice in Boston

James Rutenbeck, a white filmmaker from the suburbs, had the intention to simply document the Clemente Course in Dorchester, and to better understand the impact of this academic curriculum on the community. But he discovered much more than students just interacting with the great works of literature. Instead, he found students grappling with the realities of racism, homelessness, violence, and gentrification that surround them, students who face existential threats every time they stepped out of the classroom.

For more information check out this link

How to Map a Myth

Ever wondered where, exactly, in the Mediterranean Odysseus travels took place? Check out this piece from Laphams Quarterly, written by Elizabeth Della Zazzera, a historian of modern Europe and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, in which she outlines the processes individuals took to figure out Odysseus whereabouts throughout his 10-year journey home from war:

Core students interested in reading The Odyssey can come to the Core Office to borrow a copy, or contact us at