Education & Intellectual Life

Turf Wars

When the states were in charge of immigration

U.S. histories often overlook the extent to which the Atlantic seaboard states—New York and Massachusetts, in particular—laid the groundwork for national immigration legislation.

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First Responder

Art dealer William Vareika

Showing a visitor around his spacious art gallery in Newport, Rhode Island, William Vareika came to a highly impressionistic rendering of trees in a forest. “This one is very important to me,” he said. With its quick, spontaneous brushstrokes, the 1864 oil painting by eclectic American artist John La Farge (1835–1910) prefigured French Impressionism. More to the point, Vareika explained, as a Boston College sophomore on a budget, he purchased a black-and-white print of this La Farge piece, Wood Interior, and glued it onto a page in a paper he wrote for an art history class. Now he owns the original.

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Off the Charts

Bang the violin, beat the piano—and lose the cowbell

At the end of a rehearsal for a December 10 concert in Gasson 100, conductor Stephen Drury nodded toward the 11 players—a mix of Boston College students and professional musicians—and declared, “That was a noisy, chaotic mess.” Coming from Drury, one of the foremost practitioners of avant-garde classical music, it was a compliment.

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Mixed Blessings

What happens when a prayer is censored?

As Ruth Langer inspected the grainy images of medieval prayer books, she began to notice that some words had been blotted out with ink or smeared as though with the lick of a finger—signs of censors at work.

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Found in Translation

Aristotle’s words

A new translation of Aristotle’s Ethics aims to recover some of the philosopher’s own words, lost in a tradition of graceful though imprecise rendition.

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Master Teachers

Inside the Classrooms of Six Boston College Faculty

At 8:15 one Wednesday morning last January, most of the 40 students in G. Peter Wilson’s 8:30 Financial Accounting class were already present.

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The Prodigal

A once-ardent and high-profile advocate of charter schools and high-stakes tests explains her recent conversion

At a public lecture that felt more like a protest rally, Diane Ravitch showed herself to be witty, personable, and well-practiced in the polemical arts.

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Sally’s calculation

How to make a mathematician

The renowned mathematician Paul Sally is turning math education on its head by acting on a simple precept: “To teach mathematics, you have to know some.”

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Kearney’s choice

Most contemporary philosophy stands above the fray—but not all of it.

Richard Kearney’s recent projects are further defining him as the leading philosopher of the sacred. But identity is an elastic notion when applied to someone who, as a poet-friend said, “never accepts the weary finality of a definition.”

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Urban Legend

How a young mom saved Manhattan

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a book that rescued an untold number of city neighborhoods from the wrecking ball. Here’s my take on the legacy of its author, as seen through the Jane Jacobs Papers at Boston College.

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Second Emotions

The invention of love and other feelings

Recent studies are debunking received wisdom: that we all recognize an emotion such as anger or sadness when we see it in someone’s face or gestures.

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Have at it

Partisanship is good for us (some say)

“Partisanship, for lack of a better word, is good. Partisanship is right. Partisanship clarifies, it cuts through, and it captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”

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