15 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. Most of the world's great books are available today, in reprint editions.

      Published in 1941, this article precedes the beginning of the project of publishing the Great Books of the Western World for Encyclopedia Britannica, so Adler isn't just writing this from a marketing perspective.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Books_of_the_Western_World

  2. Dec 2021
    1. Discussion is led by an instructor, but the instructor’s job is not to give the students a more informed understanding of the texts, or to train them in methods of interpretation, which is what would happen in a typical literature- or philosophy-department course. The instructor’s job is to help the students relate the texts to their own lives.

      The format of many "great books" courses is to help students relate the texts to their own lives, not to have a better understanding of the books or to hone methods of interpreting them.

      This isn't too dissimilar to the way that many Protestants are taught to apply the Bible to their daily lives.

      Are students mis-applying the great books because they don't understand their original ideas and context the way many religious people do with the Bible?

    2. The idea of the great books emerged at the same time as the modern university. It was promoted by works like Noah Porter’s “Books and Reading: Or What Books Shall I Read and How Shall I Read Them?” (1877) and projects like Charles William Eliot’s fifty-volume Harvard Classics (1909-10). (Porter was president of Yale; Eliot was president of Harvard.) British counterparts included Sir John Lubbock’s “One Hundred Best Books” (1895) and Frederic Farrar’s “Great Books” (1898). None of these was intended for students or scholars. They were for adults who wanted to know what to read for edification and enlightenment, or who wanted to acquire some cultural capital.

      Brief history of the "great books".

  3. Nov 2021
    1. Though firmly rooted in Renaissance culture, Knight's carefully calibrated arguments also push forward to the digital present—engaging with the modern library archives where these works were rebound and remade, and showing how the custodianship of literary artifacts shapes our canons, chronologies, and contemporary interpretative practices.

      This passage reminds me of a conversation on 2021-11-16 at Liquid Margins with Will T. Monroe (@willtmonroe) about using Sönke Ahrens' book Smart Notes and Hypothes.is as a structure for getting groups of people (compared to Ahrens' focus on a single person) to do collection, curation, and creation of open education resources (OER).

      Here Jeffrey Todd Knight sounds like he's looking at it from the perspective of one (or maybe two) creators in conjunction (curator and binder/publisher) while I'm thinking about expanding behond

      This sort of pattern can also be seen in Mortimer J. Adler's group zettelkasten used to create The Great Books of the Western World series as well in larger wiki-based efforts like Wikipedia, so it's not new, but the question is how a teacher (or other leader) can help to better organize a community of creators around making larger works from smaller pieces. Robin DeRosa's example of using OER in the classroom is another example, but there, the process sounded much more difficult and manual.

      This is the sort of piece that Vannevar Bush completely missed as a mode of creation and research in his conceptualization of the Memex. Perhaps we need the "Inventiex" as a mode of larger group means of "inventio" using these methods in a digital setting?

  4. Sep 2021
    1. Book review (and cultural commentary) on Alex Beam's A Great Idea at the Time, (Public Affairs, 2008).

    2. Soon enough the Great Books were synonymous with boosterism, Babbittry, and H. L. Mencken’s benighted boobocracy. They were everything that was wrong, unchic and middlebrow about middle America.”

      what a lovely sentence

    3. When asked for his views on which classic works to include among the Great Books, the science historian George Sarton pronounced the exercise futile: “Newton’s achievement and personality are immortal; his book is dead except from the archaeological point of view.”

      How does one keep the spirit of these older books alive? Is it only by subsuming into and expanding upon a larger body of common knowledge?

      What do they still have to teach us?

    4. In “A Great Idea at the Time,” Alex Beam presents Hutchins and Adler as a double act

      Just the title "A Great Idea at the Time" makes me wonder if this project didn't help speed along the creation of the dullness of the humanities and thereby attempt to kill it?

      What might they have done differently to better highlight the joy and fun of these works to have better encouraged it.

      Too often reformers reform all the joy out of things.

    5. In a postwar world in which educational self-improvement seemed within everyone’s reach, the Great Books could be presented as an item of intellectual furniture, rather like their prototype, the Encyclopedia Britannica (which also backed the project).

      the phrase "intellectual furniture" is sort of painful here...

  5. Mar 2017
  6. Feb 2017
    1. English professors, because literature provided teachable content, something to write about other limn oneself or arbitrarily chosen subjects in which the teacher was not an expert.

      Side note: would the Great Books theory include books of composition instruction like Strunk & White's Elements of Style or any of the books Nathaniel passed out on Thursday?

    1. but this edu-cation did not include classical learning, literacy in Greek and Latin, or formal training in rhetoric, except in a few elite schools for boys destined for the univer-sity

      I do wonder what the reasoning was for this (I mean, besides the blatant "women and the lower class are too stupid to understand our Great Books and/or will lead lives that do not require a 'polite' education"). We've already read arguments that the "polite" education supposedly improved the virtues as well as the mind, right? Wouldn't all of society benefit if women and the lower class were virtuous, as much as possible?

  7. Jan 2017
    1. But allow him to acquire experience in those objects, his feeling becomes more exact and nice: He not only perceives the beauties and defects of each part, but marks the distinguishing species of each quality, and assigns it suitable praise or blame.

      Sounds a lot like the Great Books theory–simple exposure to good art will yield a good critic.