Upcoming MFA Events

Wine, Poets, and Performers in Ancient Greece

Opens September 16th ~ Gallery 215 A-C

In mid-September, our reimagined Greek galleries open. Both the art and the literature of ancient Greece are the foundations of Western civilization. As these galleries demonstrate through innovative displays and interactives illuminating ancient works, Greek poetry and drama can be closely connected with the art so well represented by the MFA collection.

Homer and the Epics
Krupp Gallery, 215A

The MFA’s world-renowned portrait of the iconic poet Homer anchors this gallery devoted to works of art illustrating scenes from his creations, The Iliad and The Odyssey, as well as other Greek epics. Near the gallery entrance, a large multi-touch screen provides an interactive introduction to the narrative sweep of the Trojan War.

Dionysos and the Symposium

Dionysos, god of wine and revelry, oversees this gallery, introducing the production of wine and its significance in Greek culture and religion. All-male drinking parties (symposia) and their activities, including philosophical discourse, the performance of poetry and music, drinking games, and the presence of courtesans are the other focus of this gallery. Images of Dionysos and his retinue animate drinking and serving vessels.

Theater and Performance

This gallery features objects related to Greek theater, including masks, dance, and music. Plays were performed in the large stone theaters of Greece, South Italy, and Sicily. Many of the MFA’s notable collection of fifth- and fourth-century BC vases illustrate scenes from the tragedies and comedies written by Greek playwrights.


A Major Exhibition of Spanish Master Francisco Goya
Order and Disorder

Opens October 12th, 2014 through January 19, 2015 ~ Gund Gallery, LG31

On view only at the MFA, and built on the Museum’s world-renowned collection of works on paper by the artist, “Goya: Order and Disorder” features more than 160 of his most significant paintings, prints, and drawings, ranging from the 1770s through the end of his life. Important loans of paintings and drawings from the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Musée du Louvre, the Galleria degli Uffizi, The metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art (Washington), as well as numerous private collections, round out this once-in-a-generation look at one of the greatest, most imaginative artists of all time.

A fine time had by all


The Core is pleased to report that it was a distinct pleasure to host so many pleasant Core and Classics persons at this past Saturday’s Core/Classics reception, part of BU’s alumni weekend. We hope to see more of you this spring, when we hold our gala 25th anniversary! — with Michael J. Maguire, Ashley McIntosh, Prof. James Uden, Prof. Ann Vasaly, Prof. Stephanie Nelson, Sophie Klein, and Beth Jacquet.

Alumna Ahoy

Faculty, despite cruel rumors to the contrary, are not all corrupted by the Gradgrindian spirit. Indeed, they are warm people, who love nothing more than to see their former students thriving in the world beyond campus. To that end, they love visits.


In this photo, from September 2014, Professors Ann Vasaly, Stephen Esposito and Stephanie Nelson are seen visiting alumna XO LtCdr Emily Bassett (née Klauser) on the USS Arlington. Fantastic. #corealumlove #showusyourtriremes

Candid shot: Barfield on Hobbes


Above, a snippet from Prof. Thomas Barfield’s very animated lecture (babba-bing!) on Thomas Hobbes, in September 2014 for the students of CC 203: Foundations of the Social Sciences.

Postcards to the Core

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Howdy “ya’ll”!


and I’ll be back in Boston. I hope all of you are doing well and I can’t wait to see you all! Winona

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Geia sas, Core office!

Greetings from Greece!

We went here on Sunday! Watched Prof. Samons “frolick” gleefully. Thank you for the opportunity.

With love,

The BU Phillhellenes 2014

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Lovliest Core office,

Greetings from Praha! Maddy and I are spending a week here during our vacation from summer study abroad with Radhika. I’ve had an amazing time this summer, mostly because of the awesome people Core has put me in touch with. I’ve seen so much of the country that was the origin of so many Core texts now. Travel is an essential part of any well-rounded education – it makes the history come alive! One of my favorite things I’ve done so far is see Austen’s writing desk in the British Library. Another, more Prague-related, was the Kafka Museum along the Vltava River, and seeing a house where he lived! What a grand summer. I miss the office and hope to see you all soon, Corey xx

Esposito introducing Bible lecture with Elie Wiesel


This past Tuesday, September 9th, Prof. Michael Zank of the Department of Religion lectured to students in the first-year Humanities about the Hebrew Bible. His talk was introduced with some very moving comments by Prof. Stephen Esposito (Classics), the course coordinator. Prof. Esposito has agreed to let us republish his introduction here on the Core blog, for the benefit of alumni and other readers. Here they are.

In May 1944 a 13-year-old boy from a small town in Romania, along with his parents and 3 sisters, boarded a train to an unknown destination. Read More »

Community news: Javadov, Tabatabai, Gossen, Hamill

As you know, Core is more than a set of classes—it is also a community, whose members are the students, faculty, and alumni that have all shared experiences in and outside of those classrooms. One of the things that happens in a community is that people stay in touch. In keeping with this, we’re going to be posting updates of recent news sent in to us by students, alumni, and instructors: announcements of new jobs or marriages, interesting trips, recent accomplishments, and current projects. Read More »

BU in Athens: the Philhellenes’ Summer Trip, 2014

{ A guest post from Prof. James Uden of the Department of Classics; cross-posted from the Classics departmental homepage. }

Group Dinner in Athens

Group Dinner in Athens

Do Athenians ever sleep? No doubt many of the BU students who spent a month in Athens this summer were already accustomed to staying up late, but the Greeks really showed them how to make the best use of the nighttime hours. Combing the night markets during the name day festival of Saint Paraskevi, watching Euripides’ ‘Helen’ by moonlight in the ancient theatre at Epidaurus, holding long conversations in restaurants and in the dorms about Greek, and then, word by word, in Greek – these were some of the ways our BU undergraduates spent their Attic nights, in a city that stays wide awake once the sun goes down. Read More »

Joseph Luzzi on Dante, and why some books stay and others go

Dante_Alighieri_Tour_Florence_Italy_0Students just entering the first-year Humanities haven’t yet encountered the Divine Comedy of Dante in the Core classroom… but for sure, they won’t forget it. Many Core alumni report that their exploration of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso in seminar with their Core classmates was a formative part of their undergraduate experience. Accordingly, we keep our eyes open for any mention of our man Dante in the world of letters beyond BU.

Here’s the latest clip. Over in the estimable Paris Review, in an essay titled “The Great Unread”, Joseph Luzzi asks the question: “Why do some classics continue to fascinate while others gather dust?” In the following excerpt, he explains the reason Dante’s great work didn’t go the way of so many texts lost to the modern reader in the dust-bin of literary history:

In 1756, Voltaire proclaimed “nobody reads Dante anymore,” and indeed the Enlightenment had little time for Dante’s religious allegories and Christian doctrine. He was about to go the way of Manzoni’s Betrothed: a classic that was once much admired but now rarely read. Then the Romantics came along and rediscovered Dante, celebrating his individuality and heroism—those same qualities from Inferno that Dante would reject in Paradiso. But that didn’t matter to the Romantics. They creatively misread Dante, and in so doing made him the literary touchstone he is today. Our interest in Dante’s hell, the universality of its concern with questions of justice and crime and punishment, overrides our indifference to his medieval vision of Christianity.

What do you think — is this a plausible and sufficient explanation of the enduring success of the Divine Comedy? A cynical (non-Core) explanation for why some books stick around and some books are forgotten is: The books that stick around are the ones the professors put on the reading list. There’s a dismissive truth to that explanation, but Core people know there’s a lot more to the matter than this kind of pat answer can supply.

Read the rest of Luzzi’s essay at The Paris Review, and learn more about its author at josephluzzi.com.

From the Core Journal: “The Analects of Prof. Nelson”

These “Analects of Professor Nelson” were recorded during class discussion by Core student Matthew Spencer, and published in The Journal of the Core CurriculumVol. IX, Spring 2000:

  1. The Professor said of Rousseau’s Confessions, “Boy, it’s so nitty, and it’s so gritty!” Only then did Matthew understand.
  2. When Matthew thought he really understood Rousseau, the Professor said, “What’s the point of Rousseau’s life?” and Matthew could not speak for the rest of the day.
  3. The Professor said to a student in the class, “You remind me of Satan, but not in a bad way.”
  4. When the class thought that they had discussed everything, the Professor surprised them, saying “All we have to do now is figure out, who is Don Giovanni and why, and then we go home!”
  5. For a confounded class, the best medicine is more and more confusion. Thus, the Professor said, after a dizzying discussion of Faust, “And otherwise, we only have to figure out the meaning of the universe, and then we’re done, okay?”