A Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Divine Comedy with Dr. Jason Baxter

April 3, 2018

Dante’s descent into Hell in Inferno, begins on Good Friday in the year 1300. He sojourns in that place of pain, despair, and noise emerging appropriately at dawn on Easter. Then in the days following Easter, he climbs Mount Purgatory and is swept up to the heights of Heaven.

Dante’s Comedy tells an amazing tale, but perhaps just the thought of tackling Dante is overwhelming. Maybe you’ve tried to read it or thumbed through only to quit discouraged. Or perhaps you read all the words, but with little real satisfaction.

What you need is a guide and Wyoming Catholic College professor Dr. Jason Baxter, after guiding many of our students through Dante has a brand new book aptly titled, A Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Comedy. To tell us about the book, Dr. Baxter is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.

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Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology with Dr. Jason Baxter

March 13, 2018

“I begin this book, on the humanities,” writes Wyoming Catholic College Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities, Dr. Jason Baxter, “with a description of travel, because I think the experience of being immersed in a world of surprises, like I was in Ischia, and the experience of reading a ‘great book’… is fundamentally analogous.”

Dr. Baxter goes on to write that his just-released book Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology is an answer to the question, “How is the profound sense of travel like the experience of reading?” Both are fundamentally the experience he calls “falling inward.”

To discuss his book and the meaning of its title, Dr. Baxter is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

Order Dr. Baxter's book, Falling Inward from Cluny Media or Amazon.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Part 3 with Dr. Ben Lockerd

January 2, 2018

“The answers to the errors of modern times need to be given in philosophy and theology,” wrote Dr. Benjamin Lockerd, “but it is essential that our students also experience the truth imaginatively.”

This is the third and final installment in our podcast series on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the Wyoming Catholic College 2017-18 Book of the Year. It’s a book that highlights the Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts and one we especially recommend that you read and study.

Our guest on this third podcast is Dr. Benjamin Lockerd, Professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Lockerd is a member of the Wyoming Catholic College Catholic Scholars Advisory Board.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Part 2 with Dr. Kent Lasnoski

December 26, 2017

Wandering lost in a wild land on Christmas Eve, Sir Gawain prayed, “I beg of you, O Lord, and Mary, that most merciful of mothers, and most dear, find me safe lodgings in some house, devoutly to hear Mass, and then your matins tomorrow morning. I meekly ask you, and to this purpose I promptly pray my Pater and my Ave, and Creed.”

Last week we looked at the fourteenth century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from a literary point of view. Our college president Dr. Glenn Arbery helped us understand the story, its structure, and its context.

But the anonymous author of the tale about Sir Gawain was interested in more than telling a good story. He had a clear theological and spiritual purpose as well. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an intensely Christian poem. To help us understand how that’s the case, our guest this week is theologian Dr. Kent Lasnoski.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Part 1 with Dr. Glenn Arbery

December 19, 2017

It was Christmas time, and King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table gathered to celebrate the courted Camelot. Amid the merriment and mirth of New Year's Eve, a huge knight rode into the festive hall. He was clad in green armor that perfectly matched his green hair, green skin, and green horse. With him, he brought a holly branch, a huge battle ax, and a strange game.

Beginning this year, Wyoming Catholic College will select a book of the year, some work that highlights the Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts. This year's book of the year is the anonymous 14th century masterpiece, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, wrote JRR Tolkien, “Is a romance, a fairy tale for adults, full of life and color.” In this, the first of three podcasts on the poem, Dr. Glenn Arbery, president of Wyoming Catholic College introduces us to this strange tale.

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Poetry, Praise, and “Pied Beauty” with Dr. Jason Baxter

November 21, 2017

Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Jesuit, was born in 1844 in Essex, England and died in 1889 in Dublin, Ireland. And while none of his poems were published during his lifetime, when they were published beginning in 1918, he was immediately heralded as one of the greatest poets of the Victorian Era.

Each year Wyoming Catholic College freshmen memorize, among other poems, Hopkin’s “Pied Beauty” and with him give thanks to God “for dappled things.”

Their enthusiastic, poetry-reciting professor is Dr. Jason Baxter who is our guest for this Thanksgiving edition of The After Dinner Scholar.

Wyoming Catholic College Poetry Anthology:

  • “To an Athlete Dying Young,” A. E. Housman
  • “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” John Keats
  • “God’s Grandeur,” Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • “The world is too much with us,” William Wordsworth
  • “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost
  • “What a piece of work is a man,” William Shakespeare
  • Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare
  • “Spring and Fall,” Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • “Pied Beauty,” Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • “Ozymandias,” Percy Shelly
  • “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars,” Richard Lovelace
  • Holy Sonnet XIV (“Batter my heart”), John Donne
  • “Love III,” George Herbert
  • General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
  • “The quality of mercy is not strained,” William Shakespeare
  • “Sonnet 94,” William Shakespeare
  • “For once then, Something,” Robert Frost
  • “The Tyger,” William Blake
  • “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” William Butler Yeats
  • “When you are old,” William Butler Yeats
  • “Because I could not stop for death,” Emily Dickinson
  • “Fire and Ice,” Robert Frost
  • “The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats
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Dionysus, Apollo, and the Challenge of Deep Knowing with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

October 10, 2017

“What is good?" asked Friedrich Nietzsche, "The Anti-Christ. Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is evil? Whatever springs from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power increases—that resistance is overcome.”

Thus it seems curious that Sean Steel, a member of the education faculty at the University of Calgary, should use Nietzschean categories--the Dionysian, the Apollonian, the anti-Dionysian--to propose a rather congenial understanding of a good education.

The Wyoming Catholic College faculty read and discussed Steel’s article “Schooling for ‘Deep Knowing’” during a recent symposium. Our Academic Dean, Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski, led our discussion and is our guest on this week’s After Dinner Scholar.

Sean Steel's article, "Schooling for 'Deep Knowing'" can be found here.

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Lecture: Prospero’s Return by Dr. Glenn Arbery

August 8, 2017

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan tells his daughter Miranda the tale of how his brother, Antonio, usurped his title and put him and Miranda in a leaky boat to perish at sea. Instead, “by providence divine” they landed on an island. There Prospero became a great and powerful magician able even to control the wind and the sea.

As a fleet of ships passes by, he conjures a storm and brings Antonio and his other enemies to his island.

The story of what happens next is the topic of Wyoming Catholic College President Glenn Arbery’s lecture on The Tempest at the 2017 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Here it is in its entirety.

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The Use of Power and the Possibility of Grace in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” with Dr. Glenn Arbery

August 8, 2017

At the end of his life, William Shakespeare moved from what could be called his Tragedy period to his Romance period. While plays such as King Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth end on stages strewn with dead bodies, the Romances including The Tempest end with the realization of hope beyond hope.

In such a world, Shakespeare imagined a great magician with immense power over the wind, the sea, and the lives of people including his enemies.

The Tempest, argues Wyoming Catholic College President Glenn Arbery, is the story of how the magician, Prospero, uses that power.

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Lecture: Dante’s Exile by Dr. Jason Baxter

July 18, 2017

In Dante Alighieri Purgatorio, the second canticle of The Divine Comedy, Dante the pilgrim, finally cleansed from all sin and disordered love, reaches the Garden of Eden atop Mount Purgatory. And while there is more to his pilgrimage, his exile is at an end.

Wyoming Catholic College Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities Dr. Jason Baxter discussed the return from that exile in Dante Alighieri at teh 2017 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Here is his lecture in its entirety.

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