15 March 2005

Someone's Turf

From "The Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy", by John Cleary, in New England Classics Newsletter, 15.1, October 1987:

The general purpose of the Greater Boston Project is to enrich the teaching of the humanities at the participating universities by making classical texts and authors more accessible to teachers and students who are generalists rather than specialists in the field. More specifically, through the intensive seminars it tries to stimulate the interest of non-specialist faculty members in particular texts or authors which they might add to their curricula in philosophy, classics, or in any related discipline. Along with elucidating philosophical and philological issues, the specialist visitor is asked to address pedagogical aspects of the text or author which is the chosen topic for the series of seminars. In this way we hope to achieve our twin goals of expanding the existing humanities curricula and of developing new curricula so that classical texts and authors will regain their rightful place at the core of liberal arts education. But, unlike many other similar efforts which are now gaining some currency, we do not intend to sacrifice any of the rigor of the dual disciplines of classics and ancient philosophy while promoting classical texts as part of the undergraduate curriculum. An important though subsidiary goal of our colloquia is to promote the scholarly development of specialist graduate students and faculty members in the participating institutions. Indeed, if there is anything unique about the project it is this attempt to fight the "ivory tower" syndrome which tends to separate specialists from generalists and which kills the creative interaction between teaching and research that we see as essential to the success of both. This is why we invite the leading scholars in the field and challenge them to address pedagogical issues and to demonstrate their solutions in the classroom.

I wonder if John would stand by that now.

I'm all in favor of broad appeal and good pedagogy. But when it comes to scholarship in ancient philosophy I'd be more like the Cambridge math dons who toasted, "To pure mathematics: may it never be of use to anyone!"


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