When—and Why—Did College Course Syllabi Get So Insanely Long?

When—and Why—Did College Course Syllabi Get So Insanely Long?

Classes started last week, but this article needs to be an annual tradition.

When I was an undergrad in the ’90s, there was little more exciting than the first day of class. What will my professor be like? What books will I be reading? How many papers will I have to write? Answers came readily, in the form of a tidy one-page document…

Garrison Keillor on retiring, the trouble with nostalgia, and the state of America

Garrison Keillor on retiring, the trouble with nostalgia, and the state of America

Strange to think of Garrison Keillor going off the air, but I’m sure the Professional Organization of English Majors will go on:

“I never was into kitsch, and that’s really the basis of nostalgia: it’s being sentimental about the ordinary. And I don’t feel that way. The America that I feel strongly about is a sort of classic America. I feel very attached to figures in the 19th century long before I came along – writers: Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson. I feel moved by them, more than by people of my own time.

So to me that’s not an America that has gone away. That’s an America that is permanent. I think Thoreau is permanent, I think Emily Dickinson is permanent, and … I’m an English major. I’m talking like an English major.”

It’s cool. I’m an English major, too.


The Prairie Home Companion host is preparing to leave Lake Wobegon – but with plenty of projects in the pipeline, he shows no sign of slowing down

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

“In the Orient, the gods do not stand as ultimate terms, ultimate ends, substantial beings, to be sought and regarded in and for themselves. They are more like metaphors, to serve as guides, pointing beyond themselves and leading one to an experience of one’s own identity with a mystery that transcends them. I have found that the approach through Freud and Jung greatly helps to make this point clear to students brought up in the mythology of Yahweh—a jealous god, who would hold men to himself and who turned mankind away from the Tree of Immortality, instead of leading us to it. Such a god in the Orient would be regarded as a deluding idol. In fact, heaven itself and our desire for its joys are regarded there as the last barrier, the last obstacle to release, to be transcended.”

Joseph Campbell, “Comparative Mythology as an Introduction to Cross-cultural Studies,” in The Mythic Dimension