Category: Great Books

Alter on writing The Art of Biblical Narrative

Robert Alterisa scholar and translator whose rendition of the Pentateuch into English we read in the first-year Core humanists as The Five Books of Moses. Earlier this year, in January, Alter was invited to deliver a lecture to students in Brigham Young University’s program in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. In his talk, he discusses The […]

Akkadian Dogs

Our first-year students are beginning with the beginning in this first week of the Fall 2020 semester, by reading the oldest book we have written copies of — the Epic of Gilgamesh. In keeping with the Mesopotamian moment, let us share these marvelous little clay dog figurines from the 7th century BCE. We spotted this […]

The poems of the 2020 Core Poetry Reading

On the evening of April 15th, four and a half dozen classmates, alumni, lecturers, and friends, all members of the extended community we call the BU Core, came together on Zoom for our traditional spring poetry reading, an event Core has organized for nearly two decades. Despite a hitch at the start (we were Zoom […]

Ajax, Hecuba, and Vietnam

The image above is taken from a stage adaptation of the Iliad, now performing at ArtsEmerson. A group of Core students is venturing downtown to see this production, titled An Iliad, putting us in mind here on campus about the enduring relevance of this ancient text. Do our modern times still reflect that old world? […]

Meditation on Remediation

An update from the front lines of the Core classrooms! This week, students are exploring Hamlet, and discovering what it means to remediate a text. Core students know better than anyone that some stories strike such a chord with the human experience that they continue to be told throughout history. Storytellers have always taken source […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.” […]

Free Books, Yours for the Claimin’

The end of the year is looming, and we want to make sure our orphan books go to good homes before the snows begin to fall here in Boston. Core has an inventory of hundreds and hundreds of used books, donations from members of the Core community. We invite you — students, alumni, and friends […]

The First Woman to Translate the Odyssey into English

“Find the beginning.” “Tell me about a complicated man,” reads the first line of classicist Emily Wilson’s new translation of the Odyssey. Published this month, November 2017, the book marks the first time a woman has translated Homer’s epic poem into English. Called “lively, fast-paced” and “contemporary and exciting” by reviewers (indeed, “radically contemporary” according […]