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A short sale of the transformative power of the classics (letter)

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Professor Harvey Graff Writing May 6 this is the fourth answer to my essay on the general sciences and humanities. I thank you Inside the higher ed for the fact that we offer space for a lively exchange in this age of academic compliance.

The Count’s introduction is, indeed, hot – and unhappy. Rhetoric works just from the contrary, but the heat is strong. In my essay, it is not possible to “define either the humanities or the generation,” he says, which is “really exhausting.” I also suffer from “historical, conservative beliefs”. Worse, I have the audacity to “write[ ] with boundless timelessness, ”and I am a factory[ ] a scenario of great decline. ” I suggest “without evidence and explanation” that the humanities have failed due to the retreat of professors from great books and great stories. I am “passionate” and “romantic” about these weary old demands of Western citizenship, he continues. My assertion that Stanford’s current demands do not provide for a “majestic formation” is, in his words, “complete fiction, unacceptable to those claiming the mantle of a humanities scholar.” I “tell”, “confuse”, “disrespect” and “falsely share”. All in all, I’m just a “seller” on great book courses.

I find it all very offensive. I’m not a seller – I’m a seller.

I am also offended by the horrible swearing of those people from Stanford who, as I quoted, clearly expressed the very thesis that the Earl calls “fiction.” To express them as “no evidence” is an insult to a noble cardinal.

I am also against the Count being offended Inside the Supreme Ed readers when he claims they are so incompetent that they need commentators to determine for them the gene and the humanities.

Most of all, the description of the Count The Iliad, OedipusSt. Paul, Confessions, Beowulf, Chartres, “Friend, Romans. . ., ” I am very happy, F = maFederalist 10, Trafalgar, La Traviata, Communist Manifesto . . . for a “cruel, antique, conservative program” is an insult that cannot be tolerated. Students at Stanford and Columbia and other great book courses have not seen them as such, and I have always had to listen to children and appreciate their feelings (see The dumbest Generation books).

But let’s be serious. Professor Graf calls it a “myth” that “literacy in itself transforms that closeness to the classics transforms a person.” Here, in a crystal clear way, is the fall of the humanities: a professor who has so little confidence in the value and power of masterpieces is so little interested in distinguishing the great, important and profound from everything else that he cannot acknowledge with the power and charisma the works raised young Frederick Douglas, brought J. S. Mila from his failure, fortified the ruins of TS Eliot and gave 100,000 young Americans in the middle of the century a taste of depth, beauty and intelligence. It is a decadence that lurks behind outrage.

–Mark Bauerlein

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