“Last month, I told my sophomores, “You have written enough for me this year. Let me write something for you.” And so we hashed out a deal where, on the appointed day, the class would give me four essay prompts, I would choose one and write a 1000 word essay in response during class.
Of the four essay prompts I was given, the most intriguing was, ‘Write a guide for dating in high school.’ A little less than an hour later, I read them the following essay…”
My latest for CiRCE includes an 1100 word guide for dating in high school which I wrote at the request of my students.
Thesis: Solo sports are superior to team sports.
Arguments: On the practical differences between the two, this thesis would argue solo sports (tennis, swimming, golf, and track & field) are superior because they can easily be practiced and played into adulthood, unlike team sports (volleyball, basketball, and soccer), which are rarely carried into adulthood. On the philosophical differences, this thesis would argue solo sports are less beset by banal, unsubstantiated claims about “the virtue of teamwork,” and so solo sports suffer less from overvaluation and flattery than team sports.
Note: If you are a high school senior at a classical Christian school who is interested in writing such a thesis, I may be willing to act as your advisor. Contact me for an interview through GibbsClassical.com
Registration opens on Friday, May 21, for the following GibbsClassical.com classes:
Fall 2021 Courses: Foundations of Modern Politics and British Ladies of the Nineteenth Century
Friday afternoons, September 3 through December 10 (no class November 26th)
Foundations of Modern Politics will start at 1:45pm EST
British Ladies of the 19th Century will start at 3:05pm EST
Sessions run 65 minutes.
Spring 2022 Courses: The Divine Comedy for Beginners and Modern Romance: The Cult of Courtly Love in Theory, Literature, and Film
Friday afternoons, January 7 through April 8
The Divine Comedy for Beginners will start at 1:45pm EST
Modern Romance will start at 3:05pm EST
Sessions run 65 minutes.
All classes are being offered on both the student level and the auditor level. Discounts are available for anyone who enrolls in multiple classes.
The Student Level: Students will have entry into Friday Zoom classes, as well as access to recordings of class videos and the class Canvas page, where students may ask questions and carry on discussions about the class texts. Two essays will be assigned to students. Students are not required to complete the essays but may do so if they choose. Students who complete the essays will receive feedback on their work and may resubmit their work for additional feedback if they choose.
The Auditor Level: Auditors will receive recordings of the class videos delivered by email every Saturday. The Auditor Level does not come with a Canvas login. It is ideal for anyone whose schedule does not allow attendance on Friday afternoons and who does not plan on doing any written work for the class. Twice during each course, I will hold an hour-long open Zoom session for Auditors who want to talk about the curriculum or ask questions.
Student level: 14-week classes
1 class: $325
2 classes: $625
3 classes: $900
4 classes: $1175
Auditor level: 14-week classes
1 class: $265
2 classes: $510
3 classes: $750
4 classes: $980
Course Descriptions and Curricula
Foundations of Modern Politics (Fall 2021)
The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke; The Oxford History of Christianity edited by John McManners; The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
We live in a time where there is a good deal of confusion about what conservatives and progressives actually believe. Conservatives tend to have predictable opinions about marriage, guns, taxes, and morality, but what philosophical convictions underwrite these opinions? What philosophical convictions underwrite progressive opinions on these matters? What does it mean for a man to consistently reason and act according to conservative principles? In order to answer these questions, one must go back to the beginning of the debate between conservatives and progressives. Students in Foundations will be given the tools and perspective they need to see beyond the surface of contemporary news stories to the theological convictions which drive modern men and women.
British Ladies of the Nineteenth Century (Fall 2021)
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, London saw a number of clubs and societies emerge which were sympathetic to the progressive philosophies of the French Revolution. In the several generations which followed, some of the most compelling arguments in favor of traditional virtues (and traditional sexual mores, in particular) came from novels written by British ladies. British Ladies of the Nineteenth Century offers a look at the profound storytelling, dazzling craft, virtuous heroines, and harrowing cautions created by Austen, Shelley, and Brontë.
The Divine Comedy for Beginners (Spring 2022)
The Divine Comedy translated by Mark Musa; Peter Leithart’s Ascent to Love
In the last thousand years, no author has created a more beautiful and comprehensive vision of Christian virtue than Dante. The Comedy is a sprawling, sublime work of poetry which recounts Dante’s journey from the miserable depths of Hell to the glorious heights of God’s throne room. While there are too many great books to read them all in just one lifetime, no classical education is complete without a reading of the Comedy. This class will cover the whole of Dante’s most celebrated work. The Comedy is an epic which can be reread endlessly and understood on many levels, but The Divine Comedy for Beginners is tailored for readers who are venturing through the poem for the first time.
Modern Romance: The Cult of Courtly Love in Theory, Literature, and Film (Spring 2022)
Tristan and Iseult; Love in the Western World by Denis de Rougemont; Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; About Love by Andreas Capellanus; Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Psycho
Modern beliefs about romantic love are neither new nor ancient, but largely derive from courtly love stories popularized in France during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. These courtly love stories idealized romantic love as a vexing “inborn suffering” which centered on lust, pining, secrecy, and taught that the only true love was a forbidden love. In this class, I will take students through the most important courtly love stories, the work of the most important courtly love theorists, and show students how the cult of courtly love persists to this day.
“‘Choose your battles carefully’ is now a proverb exclusively cited on occasions wherein there will be no battle. I have never heard someone say, ‘Choose your battles carefully,’ and mean, ‘You need to fight right now.’ Be careful of people who say, ‘Choose our battles carefully’ and never actually choose a battle.”
-Proverbial, Episode 61: I’m Going To Pick A Fight
“What follows is a range of mild movies for children to R-rated films for adults. While there are one or two recent films on this list, I have tried to pick films that I have re-watched many times, and which were valuable to me at different stages in my life. I believe the best movies grow with the viewer and can be understood on multiple levels over the course of a life, while lousy films are only worth watching once and do not grow over time.”
-my latest for CiRCE is a list of movies I recommend.
The most direct experience of democracy which the common man has experienced takes place in the classroom, the board room, or the annual church meeting in a nave. A binary decision is put to a crowd, then there is a show of hands. This leads the common man to think that democratic society is generally governed by what the 51% want.
The last year has proven, rather, that democratic societies are actually governed by the most vocal 7 or 8%.
“Lurking among the jubilant americans venturing back out to bars and planning their summer-wedding travel is a different group: liberals who aren’t quite ready to let go of pandemic restrictions. For this subset, diligence against COVID-19 remains an expression of political identity—even when that means overestimating the disease’s risks or setting limits far more strict than what public-health guidelines permit.”
-from “The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown” in The Atlantic
When told a certain food is very spicy, a child believes it. When told a certain food is not spicy at all, a child believes it. But when told a certain is not too spicy, a child will resolutely doubt the testimony of all the world.