The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #17: Critical Theory vs. Great Books

General Introduction
– Congratulations to David Grubbs, teacher of outstanding merit
– What’s on the blog this week?
– Buy our stuff!

Renaissance and Reformation Education
– Religious education
– The move toward State education
– Apprenticeships and grammar school
– Calvin as the father of the Christian college
– The birth of humanism
– A new kind of rhet/comp

The Scottish Model
– Where Calvinism meets the Enlightenment
– Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments
– Is this theory still viable?
– Why Critical Theory hasn’t progressed beyond Smith and Hume
– The Scottish tradition in conservatism

The Rise of the German University
– Cf. “research-one” schools
– A newfound freedom
– The “scientification” of the university
– On specialization
– Philological research and fierce competition
– The elective system

Cardinal Newman Protests
The Idea of the University
– The university vs. the academy
– The necessity of theology
– Perpetuation of the grand unity of disciplines
– Newman gets apoplectic

The Masters of Suspicion
– Karl Marx turns Hegel upside-down
– Nietzsche’s attack on conventional ethics
Freud and the depths of the irrational
– The word phallus comes up again

Twentieth Century Conservative Revolt
– C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot dislike analytical philosophy
– The Southern Agrarians object to industrial capitalism
– William F. Buckley gets mad

The Battle Royale Begins
– What’s at stake here?
– Is knowledge objective or subjective?
– Where stands the learner?
– Is the canon liberating or oppressive?
– Why Nathan prefers Marx and the feminists to Foucault

Misuse of Critical Theory and Great Books
– Michial is too much of a humanist
– The hegemony of critical theory
– Melville’s Marxist grasshoppers
– The unified Western tradition and free-market capitalism
– The chivalry of Morte D’Arthur
The self-subversion of warrior culture
– We take yet another shot at Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf

Why the German Model Breeds Curriculum Battles
– Publish or perish
– Newman’s “periodical culture”
– Readings are easy
– The marginalization of the English department
– Is the “elective culture” to blame?
– The vicious cycle
– The loose canon of Critical Theory

Where Do We Go From Here?
– Hermeneutics of suspicion
– An “canonversation”
– Dialectical tension
– Incorporation of Critical Theory into Great Books
– Critical Theory as one in a line of hermeneutic techniques
– Continuities of criticism and research/teaching

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Barrett, William. Irrational Man. New York: Anchor, 1958.

Barthes, Roland. S/Z: An Essay. San Francisco: Hill and Wang, 1975.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Trans. Seamus Heaney. New York: Norton, 2001.

Booth, Wayne C. “Individualism and the Mystery of the Social Self; or, Does Amnesty Have a Leg to Stand On?” Freedom and Interpretation. Ed. Barbara Johnson. New York: BasicBooks, 1993. 69-101.

Campbell, George. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan P, 2010.

Eliot T.S. Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1949.

Freire, Paulo. Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Freud, Sigmund. The Freud Reader. Ed. Peter Gay. New York: Norton, 1995.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.

Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2008.

Lewis, C.S. The Abolition of Man. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte Darthur. New York: Norton, 2003.

Marx, Karl. Capital. Trans. Ben Fowkes. New York: Penguin, 1992. Three volumes.

Melville, Herman. Redburn: His First Voyage, Being the Sailor-Boy, Confessions and Reminiscences of the Son-of-a-Gentleman, in the Merchant Service. New York: Penguin, 1977.

Muir, Bernard J. (ed.) The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry. Exeter: U of Exeter P, 2000.

Newman, John Henry. The Idea of a University. South Bend, Ind.: U of Notre Dame P, 1990.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. A Nietzsche Reader. Trans. R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Penguin, 1978.

Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. New York: CreateSpace, 2009.

Twelve Southerners. I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2006.

Westphal, Merold. Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism. New York: Fordham UP, 1999.

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