#iHeartCore Day Valentines

Can’t choose between your boo and your favorite philosopher? Now you don’t have to! In honor of both Valentine’s Day and #iHeartCore day, we present these Core-themed Valentines, fit for spreading all kinds of Core love.


Historical Finds: Soviet Gulag Prison Tattoos

Russian Gulaggulag

Think you could get ink like this in Cambridge?

The Soviet Gulag was an expansive system of imprisonment, as “undesirables” were removed from society through prisons, camps, and remote exile. Yet a new culture emerged from this alienation, captured here in almost 3,000 drawings of prison tattoos captured by a prison guard in the middle of the 20th century. These tattoos identified a prisoner’s status, their time spent in the system and where they had been imprisoned, their reason for imprisonment, and also used just for decoration and political statements. And through these images, we can see the prisoners of the gulag system through a humanized lens (after all, most of them are incredibly amusing).

Sample, Cover, Remix Away

That’s right, it’s time to do thatcover of “We Have No Bananas Today” you’ve been dying to do.


As of January this year, the intellectual property rights on thousands of works from 1923 have expired, allowing these works to enter the public domain. Without copyright restrictions, these pieces of art, music, literature, and film are open to use by the general public. So go ahead and remake a Charlie Chaplin classic, or sample that Igor Stravinsky hit in your Soundcloud rap. The Internet Archive, which celebrated this release, encourages all experiments with works of art as an important part of our culture. But I’ll let your Soundcloud followers be the true judges.


Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?


Hell is everywhere we look. It is integral to religious belief systems, literature, and even popular TV shows. As editor of the new compilation “The Penguin Book of Hell,” Scott Bruce explores 3,000 years of this damnation, from Odysseus traveling to Hades to Climate Change as Hell on Earth. While doing so, he reckons with human’s fixation on Hell that seems to outweigh that of Heaven.

Core authors like Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton offer us concrete views of Hell, complete with physical torture and situations within the realm of perception. Conceptions of Heaven are often more abstract, as Dante states that it is literally indescribable to man. But wouldn’t it be nice to imagine Heaven in the same way? If we must see the gluttonous with snakes writhing in their stomachs in Inferno, can we also envision a heaven where dogs stay puppies forever? The air smells like bacon or books or lavender? The T is never crowded or late?

A Heaven that includes functional public transportation seems much more divine than any indescribable Dantean verse.

Core Meets Core: Virginia Woolf on Jane Austen

In her 1913 essay, Virginia Woolf writes on the merits and failings of Jane Austen. While Woolf describes Austen as “singularly blessed,” she also critiques Austen’s lack of rebellion of her “artificial” life. For Woolf, Austen someone satirizes middle class life and the fools who inhabit it, but never fully pushes away from it.

Perhaps she feels her Clarissa Dalloway and Elizabeth Bennet should duke it out for claim to most rebellious middle class woman?

On Education and a New Semester

As we welcome students from break and from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we offer some timely thoughts from the Boston University alum. In his paper “The Purpose of Education,” King argues for education that extends beyond logic into an more enlightened education of the soul. While education must help people achieve their goals, he fears for education without moral virtue:

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals… We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”

Education of character, virtues, morals, souls… sound familiar? King discusses what many Core authors have before him, where an education of the “experience of social living” can create a whole and rounded person rather than a logic machine.

Go forth towards your accumulated experience of social living, and best of luck to all in the coming semester.


Understanding Dante’s Inferno

At the end of our journey in CC 102, all first year Core students walk with Dante down through the inferno, up to purgatorio, and finally end in paradiso. The Divine Comedy, written in the early 1300s, is master piece full of things too awful and too beautiful for the author to describe.

Though many Core students claim that these three books are some of their favorites from the Core, unless the reader is incredibly knowledgeable of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Florentine politics in the time of Dante, it is easy to get lost in the endless references and subtleties each book contains. Thankfully, this interactive diagram of the inferno is here to help our readers!

In a Prezi-like style, this website breaks down levels of the inferno, the characters the reader meets in each section, and where they are referenced throughout the book. The link can be found here:https://www.alpacaprojects.com/inferno/en/

Image result for inferno dante

HT: Boingboing: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/02/explore-dantes-inferno-as-a.html

Machiavelli, Man of the People

We’ve known our share of allegedly misunderstood literary figures (lookin’ at you, Nietzsche). But is Machiavelli one of them?

In The Prince, Machiavelli argues that leaders shouldn’t be objectively virtuous or truthful, but rather effective at preserving their reign. Hence a just end can excuse a leader’s horrendous acts, or “the ends justify the means.” But in this article, Sam Dresser claims that Machiavelli only appeals to powerful leaders in order to protect the people, since “Satisfying the desire of the people to be secure in their lives, families and property is and ought to be the end or purpose of government.”

Aw, Machiavelli, ya big softy! He was just looking out for the little guy all this time.

10 Recommended Reads on Anthropogenic Climate Change

1. How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate by Seth B. Darling and Douglas L. Sisterson

This book addresses 15 common arguments against climate change and backs it up with some science, using illustrations and humor to bring a comprehensible case to supporting reform.

2. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert takes a look at how humans have impacted the Earth in a way no other species has before, through an interdisciplinary lens that ties together the previous and impending mass extinctions and the role humans have to play.

3. Climate Change in Human History: Prehistory to the Presentby Benjamin Lieberman and Elizabeth Gordon

This work looks not only at the impact that humans have on the environment and climate, but how they in turn affect human societies, starting all the way back at early humans and moving towards present day.

4. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate by Naomi Klein

Connecting negative climate impacts with other ethical problems facing the human population, this book makes the case that while climate change is a human-caused problem, working to solve it will help fix both our political and economical systems.

5. Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health by Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach

Taking a medical perspective on the impact of climate change, Lemery and Auerbach inform the reader of the consequences of climate change on human health in an effort to stimulate change.

6. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert

In another of her earlier works, Kolbert lays out current issues resulting from climate change, from tar sands to acidic rain, and frames it in a way that reminds us of the challenges that are currently affecting us today.

7. Climate Change and the Health of Nations: Famines, Fevers, and the Fate of Populations by Anthony J. McMichael

This book takes a historical lens to the issue of climate change, reviewing previous transformations in climate throughout time and how it has impacted human civilizations, all with the aim of teaching us howimportant our Earth is to us now.

8. A Global Warming Primer: Answering Your Questions About the Science, The Consequences, and The Solutions by Jeffery Bennett

A simple outlined look at what climate change is and what it is doing, framed in way that thoroughly breaks down all parts of the debate over climate change and the benefits of working to resolve it.

9. Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger

With a typically dichotomous population, a new group of people are entering the climate change conversation: lukewarmers. This book examines this new perspective on what climate change is and what our part we are believed to play, and how it reflects our actions to change current behaviors.

10. The Long Thaw by David Archer

Archer takes a straight-forward approach to the topic of climate change, presenting the harsh factsof what it is, how much of it is due to human impact, and what the long term reality is for our planet.


Opinion: Go Get That B

I dare you to get a B in this class.

That’s what Adam Grant is telling straight-A students. Pushing back against the “cult of perfectionism” cultivated around education, Grant claims that students who aim for perfect transcripts often avoid taking risks, miss opportunities for failure and growth, and neglect emotional and social growth.Advisors and parents warn them not to jeopardize their prospects for no reason- why struggle with Latin conjugations or the Twin Paradox if it’s unrelated to your major and will tank your GPA?

But grades cannot measure creativity, leadership, or emotional intelligence. We here at Core pride ourselves on the academic successes of our students, but we’re also proud of their creativity, humor, and the community they have built (and we certainly wouldn’t kick anyone out for getting a B in a class that tackles philosophy and physics all in one).Go forth, you risk-takers,and go get that B!