Saturday, January 27, 2018

The use of Latin in the Civil War era

A recent article by Andrew Dinan in The Classical Journal (Vol 113, No. 2) argues that Latin was quite widely used in the United States during the Civil War.  The article describes Latin poems, inscriptions, letters, and reports and essays.  Among them is an inscription at a Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was designed "to express, though imperfectly, the gratitude felt to those of our countrymen who have given their lives to achieve the greatest moral and social results of modern times."  The inscription nicely sums up the Civil War:

Anti-Slavery Manuscripts at the Boston Public Library

Here is an opportunity to do some interesting work with primary sources in American history. The Boston Public Library is calling for volunteers to help transcribe their extensive collection of handwritten correspondence between anti-slavery activists in the 19th century into texts that can be more easily read and researched by students, teachers, historians, and big data applications. See the website here: antislaverymanuscripts.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The New Lyceum

A group of recently graduated History and Political Science majors and Ashbrook Scholars has started an interesting new online journal called The New Lyceum.  They have already published quite a few good articles by current and former students on all kinds of cultural, political, moral, and historical topics.  For a sample, try this nice analysis by Connor Murnane, of the Netflix series Deadwood.  Peruse many others here.

According to the website, The New Lyceum
provides analysis of current issues that affect the body politic. It does so out of a belief that man is reasonable – he can come to understand truth through rational discourse."  Expanding on this idea, the editors write that "Reason alone distinguishes Man from all other life. By the power of reason, he can discern truth. A natural byproduct of reason is disagreement. Civil disagreement leads to discourse that destroys poorly developed arguments and nurtures those arguments that lead to truth. Sadly, our culture has lost the ability to respectfully disagree. Some people only want to converse with those who think like they do. Others believe that to criticize another’s point of view is to attack their character and thus avoid serious discussions altogether. This has impoverished the political and cultural life of our country, and an effort to revive public discourse is necessary.
The New Lyceum seeks to aid that revival. We will write on a wide variety of issues, and our authors may defend opposing sides on those issues. Our articles will be written as arguments. They will not belittle and will aim to persuade those who disagree.
Nicely done Joey, Nick, Josh, and James! 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Prof. Sikkenga on Sabbatical

Professor Jeff Sikkenga is spending his sabbatical this year in California. While driving across the country for two weeks, he and his family stopped at a number of historical sites, including Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois (see the photo) and Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. Driving that far with kids in a crowded car renewed his appreciation of Hobbes' political thought. 
During the fall he lived in Monterey and was a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. This semester he is a visiting professor at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy in Malibu. While on leave, he is working on a book on John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration and finishing a revised second edition of History of American Political Thought, for which he wrote a chapter on the political thought of Barack Obama.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Second Place Taylor Essay by Jackson Yenor

We Have Less Time Than We Think
Let’s assume that I will live to be 72 years old, the typical age of a male living in the 21st century. If I average sleeping one hour less than what is recommended by a physician, I will spend at least 24 years of my life doing so. Right off the bat, I am down 24 years before my life ends. 48 years to go.

Babies do not develop memories until they are around three years old. My first memory is following my father down the hallway as he spoke of political philosophy to a graduate school friend. I was 3 years old.  45 years to go.

From ages 6 to 18, I was in school. Let’s assume that I spent 7 hours at school and 3 hours doing sports and homework. If you subtract the 2 hours of actual learning that took place in that time each day, I will have eaten up 4 years of my conscious time in school doing things I did not want to do, and learning things I did not want to learn (and this version of Jackson didn’t go to college). 41 years to go.

I have graduated high school. Let’s say I get a nice job. With weekends and holidays subtracted, I will work 233 days out of the year for about 45 years. If I work an 8 hour a day with 1 hour commute there and back, I will have spent 11 years of my life in the full consciousness of doing a job. I have 30 years to go.

I am a male who needs to tend to my hygiene. I will probably spend 2 hours a week showering, brushing my teeth, shaving, and doing laundry. I will probably spend another 3 hours shopping, getting gas, and running various errands. I will spend another 2 hours a week using the restroom and washing my hands. I will spend another 4 hours per week (not including any dinner with family and friends) eating food alone. Lastly, while I am a healthy guy, I will probably spend 4 days a year feeling sick and debilitated. A year of my life will be spent in the misery of sickness. All in all, I will spend 6 years to keep myself clean, fed, and remotely comfortable, without ever thinking much of anything. 24 years to go.