Tuesday, December 19, 2017

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Catholic Paradise: Further Thoughts on David S. Brown's Paradise Lost

The January 5th edition of Commonweal contains my review of David S. Brown’s biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paradise Lost. My take is that though Brown’s book gives us a unique angle on Fitzgerald’s work, it doesn’t do enough to give us a complete portrait of the author. A large part of that, as I argue in the review, stems from Brown’s misunderstanding of the kind of paradise that animated Fitzgerald’s art, and I’d like to elaborate on that a little more in this post.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Teaching Western Civ Backwards

As someone who has both taken a Western Civilization sequence as an undergraduate and taught it as a teacher (my school has an interdisciplinary program that all Sophomores take) I have spent a good deal of time thinking about the scope of such a comprehensive undertaking. What is the best way to introduce students to the thought and culture that connects Greece and Rome all the way to the good ‘ol US of A? Which thinkers should we teach? How do we do proper justice to the tradition and confront the darker aspects of Western culture as well as acknowledge its achievements? There aren’t easy answers, of course, which makes the task even more interesting and keeps me coming back to the question.