Showing posts from 2018

Remembering Peter Euben

Being hooded by Peter, May 2010 “Hello, this is Peter Euben from Duke University.” I can still recall the Bronx accent, the calm delivery, the unhesitating friendliness. I was sitting in my cubicle at Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft on Maiden Lane a few blocks from Wall Street. Peter sat, I imagine, in the Perkins Library Building office on Duke’s campus, where he often held long office hours amid piles of books and papers towering towards the third floor eves. A narrow leaded window overlooked the Chapel green and its patinaed statue of James B. Duke. In that first conversation, which took place before I ever met Peter, I experienced his interest in others as well as his strategic modesty. Despite my having so clearly advertised myself as a Straussian with Continental interests – those were the days! – Peter inquired about my thesis, listened to my interpretation of Plato’s theory of education, asked the appropriate questions. When the dialogue lulled,

Teaching Writing at Bryn Mawr

A dozen or so students and a professor sit in a circle at individual desks, talking about how to write well. One student offers her ideas on writing introductions; another student across from her expands on the point, drawing on advice she received in AP English. The professor sits back in her seat, nodding affirmation. She scans the sleepy faces around her. When the discussion lulls, the professor leans forward to reiterate and reframe what’s been said, reinforcing her favored approach to that devilish problem for all writing: where to begin. So goes the typical scene of instruction, especially writing instruction. It happens in small-ish seminars where content, for once in the college curriculum, is subordinated to skills. Usually, these seminars feature a good bit of discussion. Writing instruction also forms part of the initiation of students into college: first years learn to write and seniors are expected to execute these lessons. Or at least this is the implicit princip

Winter 2018 at Bryn Mawr College

Power, Plato, and the Good Life! Winter has arrived and I'm reprising two beloved courses from the past: Power and Resistance , which I first taught at Deep Springs College ( original syllabus here ) in Fall 2013, and Introduction to Ancient and Early Modern Political Philosophy , which I taught at Bryn Mawr ( original syllabus here ) in Fall 2015. I'm grateful to have the chance to rework and update these courses for new students and new times. Three weeks into classes, it has been delightful. In this year's  Power and Resistance ( syllabus ) , students will choose a topic such as "Power, Violence, and the State" or "Exploitation and Economic Power" and then map how the key theoretical texts we're reading joined and influenced an intellectual conversation stretching from the past into the future. The course follows the reading schedule of my Spring 2015 iteration ( syllabus here ), but I have changed the writing projects to introduce students to b