Great Books: Kicking All the Way
“A dear friend of mine said that reading is submitting to authority—kicking all the way,” says Michael Davis of the philosophy faculty. “That’s really the guts of education.”
Davis holds the Sara Yates Exley Chair in Teaching Excellence, established in 1995 by the late Sara Yates Exley ’52. This past spring Davis used the chair’s discretionary funds to organize “The Sara Yates Exley Lecture Series in the Great Books,” forsaking the topical subject matter of many SLC lecture series to address one of the traditional cornerstones of higher education.
“I thought it would be healthy to consider old books, to bring to the fore things you tend to take for granted and say, ‘Here is why they’ve lasted,’” says Davis, who has taught at SLC since 1977 and who periodically spends an entire semester teaching one book, as he has with works by Rousseau, Machiavelli and Aristotle.
“These books are about why the world is difficult,” he continues, “and the way they reveal it to you forces you to treat them the same way you treat the world if you want to know its depths. The best authors are doing this on purpose.”
Among the series speakers were alumnae/i April Reynolds Mosolino ’97, who joined the SLC writing faculty in September 2003, and Denise Schaeffer ’90; Davis himself lectured on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.