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by Patrick J. Deneen on November 16, 2011 · 7 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

I will be lecturing tomorrow, Thursday, November 17 at the University of Texas at Austin. My lecture is entitled “Why Great Books?” and is being sponsored by the Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas.

I described my talk as follows:

It is often assumed that the content of the Great Books can sufficiently justify their study. What if this is not the case? Could it be that some Great Books are responsible for the decline of the study of Great Books? Is it possible the idea of “greatness” is itself a problem for Great Books? In this lecture, a case will be made instead for “Modest Books.”

Austin-area readers are warmly invited. 4 p.m. in UTC 3.124.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jason Joseph November 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Encourage them to make a webcast of it. They’ve stopped doing so for awhile.

avatar Barry A. McCain November 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Good thing you’re not giving your talk at the Univ. of Dallas. You might have a riot on your hands with that thesis.

avatar JD Salyer November 17, 2011 at 11:19 am

“Could it be that some Great Books are responsible for the decline of the study of Great Books?”

Excellent point.

avatar Dwight Lindley November 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm


He’s likely to have had just as much push-back from the Jefferson Center crowd down at UT as he would have at UDallas, as the Pangles, who run the JC, are died-in-the-wool Great Books Straussians. At UD, while there are still a number of Straussians, there are also a great many others who don’t think of greatness out of its context.

avatar Barry A. McCain November 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for that clarification, Dwight. Heretofore I was ignorant of just what the Jefferson Center is. Just goes to show how “un-Academic” I am.

Also, could you clarify thc comment “don’t think of greatness out of its context”? Do you mean any kind of greatness, the specific “greatness” of certain texts, or something else entirely?

avatar Barry A. McCain November 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

How’d the talk go? Is there a transcript available online anywhere?

avatar Anymouse November 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I would also be interested in a transcript.

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