In episode #5, listeners get a brief introduction to Greek Tragedy and a lengthy summary and analysis of The Oresteia, by Aeschylus. British Classicist and best-selling author Edith Hall joins Jordan on the program to discuss ancient Athenian drama, 5th century Athens, City Dionysia, as well as her book Introducing the Ancient Greeks. We also take a look at a famous 20th century adaptation of The Oresteia, Sartre's "The Flies" (Les Mouches).
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Homer's Odyssey is an epic poem that tells the story of Odysseus, the famous warrior and cunning hero who must defeat monsters and resist exotic temptations, as he makes his long journey from Troy to his homeland of Ithaca. In episode 4, we take a look at the Odyssey's influence on art and culture--especially on literature and film. We also take an in-depth look at themes such as xenia (or hospitality), phronesis (or practical intelligence), and the role of men and fathers in society. Joining us this episode is the first woman to translate Homer’s Odyssey into English, classicist and UPenn professor, Emily Wilson (47:47). In her interview, Dr. Wilson discusses her new translation of the Odyssey, her theory as a translator, her love of the classics, and gender in literature. We also chat with our Western canon correspondent, Gina Santiago (2:19:00).
In episode #3 of the Western Canon Podcast, Jordan takes listeners on a journey through the wine-dark seas of Homer's epic, the Odyssey--as the Greek hero Odysseus fights monsters, fends off temptresses, and struggles desperately to return to his homeland of Ithaca. With help from the goddess Athena, Odysseus battles his way through shipwreck and storm, the cave of a Cyclops, the deadly songs of the Sirens, the isle of the witch-goddess Circe, the gloomy underworld, and the vengeful wrath of the sea-god Poseidon, in order to return to his steadfast wife and faithful son. The Odyssey is not only a hero's journey, but a complex meditation on relationships--between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, as well as rulers and subjects. In this episode, Jordan is joined by New Yorker writer and bestselling author Daniel Mendelsohn (57:20), as well as philosopher and author of the book Explaining Postmodernism, Stephen Hicks (2:09:22).
Emory Professor Mark Bauerlein joins The Western Canon Podcast to weigh in on an increasing moral, aesthetic, and epistemological relativism among today's students; he discusses problems facing literary studies; he talks about his conversion to Christianity and the "failure of liberalism"; and he looks back on his 2008 book The Dumbest Generation.
After almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told, but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written. In this episode, we discuss the story, themes, and historical context of Homer's Iliad. Jordan is joined by Oxford classicist Spencer Klavan (20:20) to discuss glory and honor, Homer's centrality to the Western canon, "the Homeric Question," diction and translation, and homosexuality in ancient Greek life. Gina Santiago stops by (1:18:15) to speak about free will and agency in Homeric epic. Also, Emory professor and author Mark Bauerlein (2:01:57) joins the show to talk about the current state of the humanities and literary criticism, moral relativism, Christianity, as well as his book, The Dumbest Generation. Additional topics include manliness and Homer's influence on the poet John Keats, among others.
In the age of identity politics, of social media and distraction, of instant gratification, of Trump--why engage with the classics of Western civilization? Why read Homer, Aristotle, Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and the many other writers who make up what critic Harold Bloom calls "The Western Canon"? What makes an author’s work canonical? Who decides what works merit inclusion in this canon? And finally, assuming that we can agree, at least to some extent, on a core selection of books, how should we read this literature? What values and standards do we apply as we grapple with the great stories and ideas that underpin the foundations of the West? In this episode, we approach an answer to these questions, while also discussing the current state of the Humanities.
About the Show:
The Western Canon is a monthly podcast dedicated to examining the timeless stories, ideas, and thinkers of the Western literary tradition. Working chronologically through "the great conversation of history," each episode focuses on a distinct canonical work, set of works, or intellectual period. Featuring lively summary, literary analysis, philosophical discussion, and guest commentary, the show also tackles social and political issues related to Western civilization, the modern university, free speech, well-being, and much more. Educate your mind and feed your soul by tuning in with Jordan Alexander Hill, Gina Santiago, and special guests on the 1st of every month!