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Zena Hitz on Thinking, Technology, and the Limits of Being Human with David McDonald

Books and a Balance

Release Date: 10/06/2021

Arnold Weinstein on The Lives of Literature show art Arnold Weinstein on The Lives of Literature

Books and a Balance

What happens when a person reads literature? An observer, seeing little more than eye movement, might conclude that the answer is: nothing. But literature is a form of travel, says our guest, and encountering it a potentially shattering experience. “Literature,” he says, “allows us to imagine a future that we could not afford to live in.” Arnold Weinstein is the Richard and Edna Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. Drawing on a lifetime of reading and teaching great works, he joins the podcast to discuss the galvanizing effect of literature and...

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James Hankins on Intellectual Freedom in Medieval Universities—and Today’s show art James Hankins on Intellectual Freedom in Medieval Universities—and Today’s

Books and a Balance

The contemporary university, especially in the United States, is a place for free and open inquiry unencumbered by censorious forces, a place where “professors should be leading undergraduates on voyages of intellectual self-discovery.” Or is it? Professor James Hankins of Harvard University joins the podcast to discuss the history of universities as institutions, the intellectual and political conditions of their founding, and what the Renaissance humanists thought of their purpose in society and the lives of their students. What light might this history shed on our current debates about...

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Brian Rosenberg on How the Humanities End—and Might Be Saved with Brendan Boyle show art Brian Rosenberg on How the Humanities End—and Might Be Saved with Brendan Boyle

Books and a Balance

What is the value of a humanities education, especially for historically underserved students? What is the place of the humanities in American higher education? Beginning with a discussion of Louis Menand’s essay, “What’s So Great About Great-Books Courses?” (The New Yorker, Dec. 2021) and Brian Rosenberg’s response (“This Is the Way the Humanities End,” Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 2022), Boyle and Rosenberg’s conversation explores tensions between the research and education missions of the modern university, the role of the humanities teacher, what’s at stake in how...

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Roosevelt Montás on Rescuing Socrates with Brendan Boyle show art Roosevelt Montás on Rescuing Socrates with Brendan Boyle

Books and a Balance

“[The human] condition of freedom, which is the condition that makes ethical life possible, is the question to which liberal education addresses itself.” So says Roosevelt Montás, Senior Lecturer in American Studies and English at Columbia University, in conversation with Brendan Boyle. Their discussion explores the use of texts as a means to help students shape their own lives, the compatibility of liberal education’s positive and negative ends, and the role of the teacher, among other topics.

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Daniel Harrell on Freedom, Death, and Liberal Education with Brendan Boyle show art Daniel Harrell on Freedom, Death, and Liberal Education with Brendan Boyle

Books and a Balance

Daniel Harrell joins Brendan Boyle to discuss competing defenses of liberal education and the nature of liberal education’s “freedom.” What does it mean to be “freed” by education if we remain “bound” in other ways? How can we be free human beings in the face of our own mortality? What is the relationship between knowledge and experience? How are tools of learning used and abused?

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Zena Hitz on Thinking, Technology, and the Limits of Being Human with David McDonald show art Zena Hitz on Thinking, Technology, and the Limits of Being Human with David McDonald

Books and a Balance

What is thinking? What isn’t? When does technology move from aiding to impeding human flourishing? How can limitations help us live better? Zena Hitz joins David McDonald to consider these questions and many more. Also discussed are higher education, tragedy and comedy, Don Quixote, depth and longing, the complexities of technological progress, and the influence of upbringing.

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What is thinking? What isn’t? When does technology move from aiding to impeding human flourishing? How can limitations help us live better? Zena Hitz joins David McDonald to consider these questions and many more. Also discussed are higher education, tragedy and comedy, Don Quixote, depth and longing, the complexities of technological progress, and the influence of upbringing.

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