Age of Viking settlement revealed using trees and astrophysics

Screen Shot 2021-10-22 at 3.21.02 PM

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

Screen Shot 2021-10-22 at 3.08.23 PM
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

Core Curriculum’s First In-Person Lecture since 2020

We’re back! After over a year of online classes, staying home, and biweekly covid tests, Boston University’s Core Curriculum has had its first in-person lecture for its Ancient Worlds course, otherwise known as CC101. As tradition would have it, the students were welcomed into the lecture to the glorious sound of Bruce Springsteen’s “Land of Hope and Dreams”.

101 lecture 9-7-21 (3)

101 lecture 9-7-21 (2)

101 lecture 9-7-21 (1)

To quote the man himself,

“Leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last, well, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past.”

After the past year and a half we’ve had, here’s to hoping for a healthy, productive, and exciting semester! Good luck, and we wish you all the very best from here in the Core Office.

Editor’s Introduction to The Journal, Issue 30

core-journal-cover-2021The online edition of the thirtieth issue of The Journal of the Core Curriculum has just been published. To help place the issue in a context of editorial goals and of the community involvement that went into its production, we hereby present the Editor’s Note from the front matter, written by the editor-in-chief:

I am alone and they are everyone. In this quotation, Dostoyevsky aptly summarizes the state that the Underground Man finds himself in, a feeling of being intensely alone. It is a state we perhaps each found ourselves in at some point over the course of the past year. Tasked to compile–entirely through screens–an anthology of commentary, criticism, art, and meritorious research, I feared that the alienating effects of remote learning might seep into our editorial work. This concern deepened my sense of responsibility as chief editor to provide encouragement and a semblance of community though we were physically separated. Cultivating a compassionate (virtual) space for cooperative group work and nurturing ties of friendship among the members of the editorial team became as important as the practical matters of proofreading and deadlines. Perhaps this wasnt a change in focus as much as a foregrounding of what should ideally always be a goal of publishing: the responsible use of resources to lift as many people as possible, empowering as many voices as we can.

This issue of The Journal is noteworthy for many reasons; let me share a few:

  • We saw the greatest number of submissions in program history, with nearly triple the submissions count from last year.
  • We expanded our contributor pool to be more inclusive, inviting submissions from the entire CAS community. Our contributors now include departmental majors, cross-registered students, and alumni from any class year.
  • We made a commitment to showcase the prize-winning essays of the Devlin Award competition for first-year writing.
  • We launched a new content category relating to the topics of sustainability and environmental justice.
  • We formalized award categories for sustainability, essay-writing, and creativity.
  • And finally, we went multimodal. Our table of contents will now list exclusive and multimedia pieces selected and developed by the editors. Visit us online to find an original musical, a timely video response addressing anti-Asian hate, and an extended interview with a Core alumnus turned popular YouTube creator.

We’d like to recognize and celebrate the students, alumni, faculty, and staff who collaborated during extraordinary circumstances to bring our print and online issues to fruition. Individuals from numerous disciplines and departments came together to offer suggestions on marketing, editing, and design, and to supply our contributors with careful, constructive feedback.

We wish to express particular thanks to Zachary Bos, for his meticulous mentorship and congeniality through each stage of the production process. To Prof. Hamill and the CAS leadership, we thank you for your guidance and trust. We are especially grateful to David Weinstein and the team at Write the World for providing our staff with immensely helpful editorial training and unprecedented financial support. And thank you to all who supported CAS, Core, and The Journal on Giving Day.

For this 2021 issue, we felt it important to collect and highlight responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and to preserve accounts of how the transition online impacted members of our learning community. In reply to our call for submissions, we received many dozens of essays, photos, and personal accounts. Some responses were academic in nature, offering intelligible answers grounded in perspicuous reasons that unbiased individuals can appreciate and possibly accept; others were more expressive, using artistic methods to transcend limits, which so often bear upon collegiate writing.

When reading these pages, it is our hope that you may be stimulated to ponder and to attempt to answer for yourself some of the great questions of human concern. The work of grappling with such questions, unavoidable and ultimate, is an important part of our profound enterprise of being in the world.

Transmitting peace and love on behalf of the entire editorial team,

Vanessa Hanger

Read and enjoy the issue online here. To request a print copy, please email the editors.

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:

Students interested in reading Jane Austens works can come to the Core Office, or email us (


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: