Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy

david wolfsdorf

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spoke to David Wolfsdorf on June 12, 2013 on his new book, Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2013).  He is an associate professor of philosophy at Temple University specializing in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. This new work examines the views of Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, the Old Stoics, and the Cyrenaics with regards to pleasure. At the end of this work, he also touches on modern treatments of pleasure in philosophy. For the ancient Greeks an understanding of pleasure was a necessary part of appreciating what constituted the “good life”, an important focus of their ethical and moral theorizing. Professor Wolfsdorf’s previous work includes Trials of Reason: Plato and the Crafting of Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2008) and many articles in leading classics and ancient philosophy journals.

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—Fred Rowland

Empire of Sacrifice

Jon Pahl

 

 

 

 

 

Jon Pahl is the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor in the History of Christianity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University. He stopped by my office on May 22, 2013 to discuss his 2009 book, Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence, from New York University Press. Throughout his career Jon Pahl has been interested in the intersection of religion, violence, and peacemaking. In this work, he describes the religiously-oriented sacrificial logic behind much of the violence in America. He uses case studies on youth, race, gender, and capital punishment to show how violent sacrifice is made normative in our culture. One of the hallmarks of Jon Pahl’s pedagogy and this book is his use of film to illustrate important themes. On finishing Empire of Sacrifice, I realized that I need to pay far more attention to the role that film plays in shaping our culture.

In a future book, provisionally entitled The Coming Religious Peace, Jon Pahl will analyze the role that religions play in peacemaking. I look forward to inviting him back to discuss this new work.

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—Fred Rowland

Library Prize Interviews, 2013

Here are the interviews with this year’s three winners of the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research and their faculty sponsors. Take some time to listen to these three accomplished undergraduate scholars discussing the road to the Library Prize.

Eamonn Connor, “Miasma and the Formation of Greek Cities”
GRC 4182: Independent Study (Fall 2012)
Faculty Sponsor: Sydnor Roy

 

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Emily Simpson, “”Represion!” Punk Resistance and the Culture of Silence in the Southern Cone, 1978-1990”
History 4997: Honors Thesis Seminar (Spring 2013)
Faculty Sponsor: Beth Bailey

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Nicole Wolverton, “The Murder at Cherry Hill”
English 3020: Detective Novel and the City (Fall 2012)
Faculty Sponsor: Priya Joshi

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—Fred Rowland

American Tuna’s Rise and Fall

asmith

Andrew Smith is a prominent food writer with over a dozen books to his name, including the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Oxford University Press, 2004) and The Tomato in American History: early history, culture, and cookery (University of Illinois Press, 2001). On March 26, 2013, he visited Paley Library to give a lecture on his most recent book, Drinking History: 15 Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages (Columbia University Press, 2013). Before he spoke, he was kind enough to sit down with me to record an interview about yet a different book, published in 2012 by the University of California Press, entitled American Tuna: the rise and fall of an improbable food. I had interviewed Professor Daniel Levine in 2010 about tuna in the ancient Mediterranean world (Talking Tuna), and I was interested in learning about the history of tuna on this side of the Atlantic. Andrew Smith was able to fill me in on the fascinating history of American tuna’s rise and fall, which includes sport fishermen, conservationists, Asian and European immigrants, grocers, advertisers, world wars, dolphins, and methylmercury. It’s a sweeping history of this “chicken of the sea”.

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—Fred Rowland

Three Classics Majors Get Dirty

On March 18, 2013 I spoke with three Temple classics majors about the archaeological digs they participated in during the summer of 2012. Andy Pollack was at the Temple University field school in Artena, Italy, working on a Roman villa; Eamonn Connor was a volunteer at the ancient agora near the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; and Samantha Davidson attended the Davidson College field school at a rural site in Atheneiou, Cypus. We met in my office at 8 AM. With coffee in hand, we had an interesting conversation about the similarities and differences between the three sites. We talked about artifacts, preservation, tools, the daily routine, and the surrounding geography and history of each site.

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—Fred Rowland

Prophets and Protons

benjamin zeller

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Zeller is a scholar of religion in America, new religious movements, and religion and science. In his book Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America (New York University Press, 2010) he looks at how the Unification Church (“Moonies”), the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (“Hare Krishnas”), and the group that came to be known as “Heaven’s Gate” thought about and related to science. He found that science had become such a dominant intellectual force that each of these religions felt compelled to appeal to it for legitimation. In addition to perspectives on science, this interview provides an encapsulated history of each movement and the major figures involved in their founding.

Of special note, Benjamin Zeller gives a big shoutout to librarians at the end of the interview, expressing his great thanks for the work that we do. Thanks Ben!

Benjamin Zeller is an assistant professor of religion at Lake Forest College in Illinois. I spoke with him via Skype on March 11, 2013.

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—Fred Rowland

Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life

Andrew Isenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Temple University history professor Andrew Isenberg came by my office in February to discuss his new book, Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life (Hill & Wang: 2013), due out in June. His book and this interview are a fascinating look at the life of a man who lived on both sides of the law and reinvented himself time and time again as he moved from one place to another throughout the West. Having seen several different Hollywood versions of Wyatt Earp, I was interested in learning about the real man and how his legend was born. Untangling myth and legend from historical fact, Western historian Andrew Isenberg traces the journey of Wyatt Earp, from his beginnings in the small-town Midwest, to the saloons, jails, and brothels in cow towns and mining towns of Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, and California, to his final years in Los Angeles.

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—Fred Rowland

What’s new in the Special Collections Research Center?

image of Margery Sly

 

 

 

 

Academic libraries are changing rapidly under the influence of digital technology, an expanded outreach and service philosophy, and increasing competition from nontraditional sources and venues.

These changes are particularly evident in special collections, an area which until recently was little known outside hardcore researchers. Often hidden away from the regular traffic of the academic library, the special collections function has been carried out for many years by dedicated professionals and equally dedicated students, interns, and volunteers, who have carefully collected and curated rare books and manuscripts, university records, community history, broadcast media, and ephemera. This is changing as special collections departments become increasingly visible on the web and in and around the academic library.

Margery Sly is the Director of the Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), located on the ground floor of Paley Library. On January 24, 2013, I sat down with her to discuss the SCRC. I was curious to find out how these trends were playing out here at Temple University and what the future holds for the SCRC.

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—Fred Rowland

The Scientists: A Family Romance

Book cover depicting a city scene overlaid with multiple chemical formulas

 

On November 15, 2012, I interviewed Marco Roth about his 2012 memoir The Scientists: A Family Romance, described by Lorin Stein of the Paris Review as

“…the first intellectual autobiography by someone our age in the searching nineteenth-century tradition of Edmund Gosse or Henry Adams: the autobiography equally of a reader and of a son, grappling with an inheritance that is both intellectual and emotional–and education for our times.”

I first met Marco Roth in October 2010 when I interviewed him and Keith Gessen about the founding of their literary magazine n+1, where both of them are currently editors.  Since Marco lives in Philadelphia, I run into him from time to time, and, hearing about his book, I asked him if he would talk to me about it. He kindly agreed. The Scientists: A Family Romance is a beautifully written book that I highly recommend.

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—Fred Rowland

 

Isaiah’s Suffering Servant

image of Jeremy Schipper

 

53:3 He was despised and withdrew from humanity; a man of sufferings and acquainted with diseases; and like someone who hides their faces from us, he was despised and we held him of no account.
53:4 Surely he has borne our diseases and carried our suffering; yet we accounted him plagued, struck down by God, and afflicted.

Isaiah (Disability and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, p.3)

On October 31, 2012, I interviewed Professor Jeremy Schipper of Temple’s Religion Department on his 2011 Oxford University Press book, Disability and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. His work is part of the Oxford series Biblical Reconfigurations, an “innovative series” which “offers new perspectives on the textual, cultural, and interpretative contexts of particular biblical characters.” Professor Schipper brings the insights of disability studies to bear on the Suffering Servant, a very well known and well studied figure in the Hebrew Scriptures. This close reading of third Isaiah not only provides fresh biblical insights, but also shines a lot on some very contemporary social issues.

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—Fred Rowland