Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Ideal English Major

If I were to design an English literature major, this is what I would require:

Fall Freshman:

English I -- Composition
Biology -- Human Biology
Western Civilization to 1648
Intro to Logic

Spring Freshman:

English II -- Intro to Literature
Western Civilization since 1648
Intro. to Philosophy

Fall Sophomore:

English III -- Composition/Research Papers
British History
The Bible as Literature

Spring Sophomore:

Creative Writing
U.S. History
Ancient Greek literature -- Homer and the tragedies

Fall Junior:

Roman Literature -- Aeneid and the plays
British Literature I -- to the Renaissance

Spring Junior

Shakespeare I --comedies and poems
British Literature II -- Renaissance to Milton
Continental European Literature
Comparative Religion

Fall Senior

Shakespeare II --  tragedies and histories
British Literature  III -- 18th and 19th centuries
American Literature I -- to 20th century
Literary Theory

Spring Senior

British Literature IV -- 20th century and Anglophone literatures
American Literature II -- 20th century
World Literature

There should of course also be classes offered on different periods of poetry and plays and novels, specifically. And on different authors. So that students can begin to specialize. We have to realize, though, that specialization ought to take place in grad school, while undergrad school ought to be a broad survey so students can learn what is out there and find what they are really interested in.

You will note that I have included classes in the social sciences, philosophy, and religion. These classes will give students potential interpretive frameworks. The literary theory class will then show how past theorists have applied knowledge from other fields to understanding literature.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Some Thoughts On Partnership

What is a partner?

We use the word "partner" in a variety of contexts. We have business partners, life partners, sexual partners, creative partners, etc. We often refer to our spouses as our partners, which is where we get the term "life partner." I suspect that the healthiest marriages are those in which the couple consider each other to be partners. Sometimes these different kinds of partners overlap. Obviously one's life partner is going to be one's sexual partner, but it is not uncommon for one's life partner or spouse to be one's business partner as well.

Since this is a consulting blog, let's concentrate on business and creative partners.

The word "partner" comes from the Middle English parcener, meaning "joint heir." That is, the partners inherit things together. That may be a literal inheritance of property or money, the inheritance of offspring, or the inheritance of a co-created work or business. ME parcener is in turn derived from from Old French parçonier, which means "partner, associate; joint owner; joint heir." When you own things in common, you are partners. The word "own" is derived from the
Old English āgen ‘owned, possessed,’ past participle of āgan ‘owe’; Old English āgnian ‘possess,’ also ‘make one's own’. So the concept of ownership needs to be understood as being related to what one owes. Ownership implies debt. Co-owners are, thus, co-debtors. They are indebted to each other because they each possess what the other possesses. Coincidentally, the word "ought" comes from the Old English āhte, which is the past tense of āgan ‘owe'. Thus, debt, morals, and possession are intimately related to each other.

A partner, then, is someone so completely involved in each others' lives that they are in debt to each other; they are joint possessors. In relationships, that means, among other things, that they possess each other. In business or create endeavors, that means the partners share possession of what they created. And they behave morally toward each other. Without this equal debt to each other, without equal ownership, there is no partnership. Those partnerships that fall apart reflect inequalities within that partnership -- they reflect the unequal ownership of what was created. In other words, if you want to create and maintain a healthy partnership, you have to make sure that you are equally invested.