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

postcardCA2 copypostcardCA copy

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

postcardGR2 copypostcardGR copy

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

postcardPR2 copypostcardPR copy



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?”

Crystalizing the Grammatical Lines

Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” has made quite the stir in the past year, prompting outcry generally saved for Southern politicians’ stances on birth control or gay marriage. Despite all this controversy over intentions, the tune and its marked “Hey, hey, hey”s is catchy, a fact that fills many a forward thinking person with guilt; to our combined relief, “Weird Al” Yankovic has provided a solution. Now, the same tune has been put to different, more Core related lyrics. Instead of “Blurred Lines” we now have “Word Crimes”, a spunky song outcrying the dastardly degradation of grammar and syntax on the internet. This song, besides reminding the general public to stay away from lazy one-letter words and “to who”s also cautions against the incorrect use of the world literally. Even the oxford comma makes an appearance. From Thicke’s blurred lines to Yankovic’s clear grammatical laws, this tune has definitely taken a turn for the better.

So here it is, the guilt free grammar song the features dancing punctuation, not mostly naked women. Enjoy and let us know what you think.