A note of thanks after the Core Banquet

An email came in this morning, from an alumnus in the Core class of 1994, commenting on last night’s Core Banquet:

Im writing just to say I thought the Core banquet last night was fantastic, despite it having to be again a virtual event. Royal Wood was wonderful, the video was a riot, and the chat was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the ‘shout-outs’ scrolling throughout the event. This was by far the best event Ive been part of on Zoom this entire time. Im sure youre hearing this from others, too. Congrats!

How wonderful to hear that though we’re connecting through screens, we’reconnecting nonetheless. We had about 100 people join us over the course of ninety minutes of awards, song, jokes, celebration, and charm. Thank you to all those who were able to Zoom in. (And thank you to our department leadership, staff and student staff who helped make the arrangements, pull the plans together, and keep the hosting upbeat and inclusive throughout the event.)


The Core Toast

In observance of this evening’s Core Banquet, we share the traditional toast, with which this annual event has been opened for thirty years.Each group of lines is read aloud by our convener, and thenrepeated by all in unison:

To students and their teachers;
to teachers and their students;
and therefore to the great-souled dead,
distant, their works near as mind;

Those who have sought
and partly found
the laws of nature

Those who have sought
and partly found
the laws of men

Those who have sought
and partly found
the meanings of men.

To the Heroes;

to the Thinkers;

to the Makers;

to the Inspired;

Who, together with us,
alive, here, in our time,
are the life of the mind,
and of the spirit

To these let us drink before we eat.

UK tabloids furious at Jane Austen Museums pivot to accurate history

Check out this article on the reactions of certain tabloids in the UK when the Jane Austen Museum decided to answer questions about Jane Austens ties to slavery honestly: https://theattic.jezebel.com/uk-tabloids-furious-at-jane-austen-museums-pivot-to-acc-1846735698

Students interested in reading Jane Austens works can come to the Core Office, or email us (core@bu.edu).


Texts and video from our Spring community reading

On the evening of April 14, 2021, an audience of classmates, alumni, lecturers, and friends of the Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum came together to hear faculty and staff share favorite texts which speak somehow to our present moment of isolation, separation and anxiety, as Auden did in his poem “Age of Anxiety.”

Here is a list of the poems which were read, with at least a snippet from each:

  1. Home Is So Sad” by Philip Larkin, read by Zachary Bos: “bereft of anyone to please, it withers so.”
  2. Good Bones” by Maggie Smith, read by Zachary Bos: “For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.”
  3. A coupletby Emily Dickinson, read by Zachary Bos, and which is in its entirety: “In this short Life that only lasts an hour / How much — how little — is within our power.”
  4. Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein and daughter: “We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow, and watch where the chalk-white arrows go to the place where the sidewalk ends.”
  5. I Won’t Hatch” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein and daughter: “For I hear all the talk of pollution and war as the people shout and airplanes roar, so I’m staying in here where it’s safe and it’s warm, and I WILL NOT HATCH!”
  6. The Worst” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein and daughter: “I feel obligated at this moment to remind you of the most ferocious beast of all.”
  7. The Voice” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein and daughter: “I feel that this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.”
  8. Put Something In” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein and daughter: “Put something silly in the world that ain’t been there before.”
  9. Sky Seasoning” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein and daughter: “It’s amazing the difference a bit of sky can make.”
  10. OOPS!” by Shel Silverstein, read by Sophie Klein:” I do try but can’t I found.”
  11. The Division of the Earth”” by Friedrich Schiller, read by Kyna Hamill: “Mine eye was then fixed on thy features so bright, Mine ear was entranced by thy harmony’s power; Oh, pardon the spirit that, awed by thy light, All things of the earth could forget in that hour!”
  12. Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas, read by Stephanie Nelson: “Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, time held me green and dying though I sang in my chains like the sea.”
  13. Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, read by Anita Patterson: “What did I know, what did I know of loves austere and lonely offices?”
  14. Just a Smack at Auden” by William Empson, read by Christopher Ricks: “It has all been filed, boys, history has a trend, each of us enisled, boys, waiting for the end.”
  15. A Second Chance” by Lydia Davis, read by Christopher Ricks: “If only I had a chance to learn from my mistakes, I would, but there are too many things you dont do twice; in fact, the most important things are things you dont do twice, so you cant do them better the second time.”
  16. Waiting for the Barbarians” by Constantine P. Cavafy, read by Sassan Tabatabai: “Some people arrive from the frontiers and they said that there are no longer any barbarians. And now what shall become of us without any barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution.”
  17. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, read by Sassan Tabatabai: “I gazedand gazedbut little thought what wealth the show to me had brought.”
  18. The Hourglass” by Francisco de Quevedo, read by George Vahamikos: “I know well I am fugitive breath; already I know, already I fear, already too I hope that if I die, I must be dust like you, that I am glass, if I live, like you.”
  19. Hombre” by Blas de Otero, read by George Vahamikos: “Is this what it means to be human: hands full of horror.”
  20. From The Tower” by Francisco de Quevedo, read by George Vahamikos: “Withdrawn to this solitary place, with a few but learned books, I live conversing with the dead, listening to them with my eyes.”
  21. Four in the Morning” by Wislawa Szymborska, read by Brian Walsh: “The hollow hour. Blank, empty. The very pit of all other hours.”
  22. An excerpt from Act 5, Scene 5 (Lines 42-66)” of Richard II by William Shakespeare, read by Brian Walsh: “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me; For now hath time made me his numbering clock.”

Organized by Sassan Tabatabai and Zachary Bos, the Zoom event was also recorded for YouTube, for the benefit of those who were not able to join in synchronously:

Core alumni and friends, please watch your email for invitations to future community-wide literary events.

Medieval Help Desk

In light of an upcoming CC102 lecture on medieval literature the week of March 30, check out this hilarious video from Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) with English subtitles. The actors portray two people in medieval times, one of whom has just received his first book, and has to call Help Desk to figure out how to work it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ

MythBusters Jr. replicates the Impossible Odysseus Arrow Shot

Check out this short clip from MythBusters Jr. on the Science Channel where the host, Adam Savage, attempts to recreate Odysseus famous arrow shot, hitting a target after the arrow passes through twelve ax heads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iFuSle2QkI

Core students interested in the Odyssey can contact the Core Office (core@bu.edu) to ask for a link to the most recent CC 101 lecture on that ancient story.

Ten P&P literary adaptations

In light of Professor Joseph Rezek lecturing on Jane Austen this week in CC202, we present for your pleasure and delight this list of literary adaptations of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

  1. First Impressions (2010) by Alexa Adams
  2. An Assembly Such As This (2006) by Pamela Aidan
  3. Charlotte (2012) by Karen Aminadra
  4. Mr. Darcys Daughters (2003) by Elizabeth Aston
  5. Dialogue with Darcy (2010) by Janey Aylmer
  6. Pride and Prescience: or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged (2004) by Carrie Bebris
  7. Charlotte Collins (2010) by Jennifer Becton
  8. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (2004) by Linda Berdoll
  9. Miss Darcy’s New Companion (2016) by Cheryl Bolen
  10. Pride and Prejudice and Secrets (2018) by Bella Breen

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Any Core students or alumni interested in learning what Austen-related works we have available for loan from the Core library, or in viewing Prof. Rezek’s lecture via recording, are invited to contact the Core office staff (core@bu.edu).

Listen to the musical notes of an ancient conch shell

Whats the oldest instrument youve ever heard played? Well, we might be able to do you one better. In this article, an 18,000 year old conch was reexamined at the Natural History Museum of Toulouse in France, discovered to have a different purpose than they originally thought. This conch was discovered in 1931 in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, first thought to be a loving cup, used to share drinks during ceremonies. Upon reexamination, the conch was discovered to be carved into a wind instrument. Check out its notes here: https://boingboing.net/2021/02/19/listen-to-the-musical-notes-of-an-ancient-conch.html

Conch Shell – Photo From Natural History Museum of Toulouse in France

For more source recommendations like these, check out the Core Blog (https://blogs.bu.edu/core/), or reach out to the Core Office (core@bu.edu) for more information on the Core Curriculum.

The bright ghosts of antiquity by John Talbot

In this feature for The New Criterion titled “The bright ghosts of antiquity”, BU alumnus John Talbot writes about the baffling translations of the Loeb Classical Library, and wonders about the impact of such translations on the study of Latin and Greek: https://newcriterion.com/issues/2011/9/the-bright-ghosts-of-antiquity

But then if your Greek were good enough, you wouldn’t be reading the Loeb edition, would you? Therein lies a key to the academic animus against the Loebs: the anxiety that such convenient translations are as much a cause of the decline of Latin and Greek as a symptom. There is some justice in such fretting. The temptation, when you are supposed to be construing a knotty passage of Thucydides, to resolve the problem with a stolen glance at the right-hand page, proves too much for many students.

– Talbot

Books in the Loeb Classical Library

Books in the Loeb Classical Library

For more information on Talbot and his poetry, check out his page on the Poetry Foundation website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/john-talbot

Gong hei fat choy!

2-5-2006 (2)

In view of the Lunar New Year, let’s look back to a trip taken in the past by Core students to Boston’s Chinatown.

On Sunday February 5th 2006, a small party of students gathered at 10 AM to take the T to Chinatown to watch the traditional Lion Dance and enjoy a meal of dim-sum or “hearts delight.” During the Lion Dance (see photo), businesses and families paraded red, orange, black and white Chinese lions through the street. Shopkeepers offered bowls of oranges and lettuce, and if a lion stopped to take the food, it was assumed that shop would have good fortune for the New Year.

After watching the procession of carefully crafted lions, the group went to the dim-sum meal. The room was as big as a ballroom dance floor, with tables for 12 crowded in close that filled the room. Squeezing between the tables full of hungry patrons were waitresses with carts of various dishes: dumplings, meats, and desserts. In place of individual orders, one person would order for the whole table chicken feet, sweet bread with beans in the center, shrimp wontons and the waitress would lay out a tray of each dish for the table to share. There was always a pot of tea circulating the table or being refilled by a waitress. Although the crew arrived in Chinatown early in the morning, they did not leave the restaurant until well into the afternoon.

This Core in the City trip was a terrific example of one of the fundamental purposes of our time in the Core: the cultivation of appreciation for, and engagement with, the diverse cultures of the world.

This blog post was adapted from an article in Core’s Spring 2006 newsletter, De Ideis.