Tag Archives: art

The Gods Have Problems

Minerva and Arachne

This is the second post of a two-part essay on Ovid’s depiction of the limitations of natural and supernatural answers to the human condition.

This brief study of the Metamorphoses began as an invitation to a colleague’s class to consider how Ovid’s mythography (writing of myth) addresses “the natural and the supernatural.” I argue that Ovid lives on as a significant voice in the canon to put pressure on the very notion of what we mean when we say those words. Continue reading The Gods Have Problems

The Limitations of Science and Art

This is the first post of a two-part essay on Ovid’s depiction of the limitations of natural and supernatural answers to the human condition.

How many of our undergraduate students are encouraged to find quick comfort in answers scientific because the transcendent is so unknowable? Or—perhaps a problem in our secular institutions to the same degree as it may be a caricature of the most fundamentalist of our church-related institutions—to rely more on the supernatural as a more certain answer to life’s vicissitudes than the natural world can offer? As scholars, we owe it to ourselves and our students always to consider skeptically the limitations of either endeavor—and the ancient world’s greatest poet points up just this problem as well. Continue reading The Limitations of Science and Art

Cultural Institutions, Theatre, and Humanistic Liberal Arts Education: Where Do We Go from Here?

Perennially, with justification, those who support limited choice in general, liberal education argue that menu systems (and their slightly more structured curricular cousins) lead to incoherence in the first years of the undergraduate curriculum.  On the other hand, most institutions are organized into disciplinary departments, and a menu system has been almost universally recognized as the best “market” mechanism to induce or introduce students to majors in various fields. But what happens when, particularly in the humanities, the very fields that are represented by departments are thought to be ineffective in employing their students, technologically backward in their approaches to the world, and, maybe most importantly, demographically cut off from new recruits.  What strategies then?  That’s what a recent Harvard report, and the Academic Council and Deans of America and Phi Beta Kappa in a recent conference, and Arum and Roksa’s Academically Adrift all seem to be asking. As it turns out, happily these questions are asked in terms of the fate of liberal arts education. Continue reading Cultural Institutions, Theatre, and Humanistic Liberal Arts Education: Where Do We Go from Here?