“Echoes of the Past”
Literature Humanities explores the development of the western literary tradition, beginning in ancient Greece and continuing through twentieth century Europe and the United States. Some of the course’s works are distinctly pre-modern in their orientation while others seem prescient in their ability to speak directly to phenomena of our current time.
In my essay, I argue that although these two groups perform different functions and produce potentially divergent reading experiences, they equally inform our ability to approach and analyze the issues and opportunities present within our current socio-political landscape.
The essay looks to the relationship between two paintings—Joli’s Capriccio With Saint Paul’s and London Bridge and Raphael’s the School of Athens—as an illustration of what I believe is the potential of the Core. By looking to the founding traditions of our society, we gain a more comprehensive framework with which to analyze contemporary occurrences.
Particularly, the works of Literature Humanities, which seem as if they are alien to modernity, help illustrate some of the fundamental public goods provided by our domestic political arrangement by depicting societies in which they are absent. The course’s other works serve as warnings of sorts, helping us to potentially avoid pitfalls of the past, including: the polarization of language, the refusal to reconsider one’s ideology, and the rejection of the truth.