Bonfire of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age

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Open Road Media, May 27, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 394 pages
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With humor, lucidity, and unflinching rigor, the acclaimed authors of Who Killed Homer? and Plagues of the Mind unsparingly document the degeneration of a central, if beleaguered, discipline—classics—and reveal the root causes of its decline. Hanson, Heath, and Thornton point to academics themselves—their careerist ambitions, incessant self-promotion, and overspecialized scholarship, among other things—as the progenitors of the crisis, and call for a return to “academic populism,” an approach characterized by accessible, unspecialized writing, selfless commitment to students and teaching, and respect for the legacy of freedom and democracy that the ancients bequeathed to the West.


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Bonfire of the humanities: rescuing the classics in an impoverished age

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In this collection of new and previously published essays, classicists Hanson (California State Univ., Fresno), John Heath (Santa Clara Univ.), and Bruce S. Thornton (California State Univ., Fresno ... Read full review


Cultivating Sophistry
John Heath
More Quarreling in the Muses Birdcage
Too Much Ego in Your Cosmos
The Betrayal of the Postmodern Clerks
SelfPromotion and the Crisis in Classics
The Prequel
The Twilight of the Professors
Not the Unabomber

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About the author (2014)

Bruce S. Thornton grew up on a cattle ranch in Fresno, California. His father was a cowboy and a barber who never attended high school, his mother the child of Italian immigrants. From an early age, Thornton worked on the ranch, and from the experience he acquired a practical realism, a clear-eyed acceptance of the concrete, harsh realities sometimes overlooked or ignored in the ivory-tower academy. He received his B.A. in Latin and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and is currently professor of Classics and Humanities in the Department of Foreign Languages at California State University in Fresno. Thornton is the author of Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization, and Plagues of the Mind.

Victor Davis Hanson is a professor of Greek and Director of the Classics Program at California State University, Fresno. He is the author or editor of nine books, including The Other Greeks (Free Press, 1995), Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Ideal (Free Press, 1996), Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (with John Heath, Free Press, 1998), and The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999). In 1992 he was named the most outstanding undergraduate teacher of classics in the nation.

John Heath is associate professor of classics at Santa Clara University. His books include Actaeon, the Unmannerly Intruder (Peter Lang, 1992) and Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Educationand theRecovery of Greek Wisdom (with Victor Davis Hanson, Free Press, 1998).

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