Upcoming Lecture – Ramsay Lecture Series 2019
Rachel Fulton Brown, Associate Professor of History – The University of Chicago
Wednesday 14 August
Great Books of the Middle Ages, and How to Read Them
Conservatives often point to lists of so-called “Great Books” as antidotes to the dissolution of the Western tradition. And yet, the most commonly cited of these lists (Mortimer Adler’s Great Books of the Western World, “Dr. Eliot’s Five-Foot Shelf”) include only a handful of texts from the thousand years between the fall of the Roman Empire and the sixteenth century—thus effectively excluding the Middle Ages from the development of Western civilization. But can Western civilization survive without a proper grounding in the great works of the Christian Middle Ages? In a word, no. Without the Christian Middle Ages, we would not be here arguing for the importance of truth, beauty, and goodness at all. If we want to challenge the postmodern critique of modernity, we need to understand the straw man on which modernity constructed itself: the so-called “Dark Ages” in which people were supposedly punished for the exercise of reason in pursuit of truth.
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