(1) Heroes and Heroism; (2) Technology and the Social Values; (3) Law, Politics, and Revolution; (4) John Donne

Michael Lofaro sees the hero in American culture as a “representative man,” an embodiment of the ideals of an individual’s society and historical era, with the personalities and histories of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone exemplifying the frontier.

In the second segment [10:00], Claire Gaudiani argues for “Socratic balance” between practical subjects and moral well-being in the education of American youth. She advocates the need for a balanced curriculum of arts and humanities subjects with science and math, and warns against overspecialization in all stages of life.

In the third segment [13:45], Harold Berman speaks about the perception of the law in America as ad hoc and arbitrarily created; the history of law in Western civilization, including the Napoleonic codes brought about by the French Revolution; the advent of legislative supremacy; the importance of public opinion in creating law; the decision in early America to base the legal system on English law but adapt it to the goals of the new country; and the continuation of this process through the present day.

In the concluding segment [22:00], John Wall speaks about John Donne’s life and poetry. Wall posits the view that Donne’s poetry celebrates both a libertine lifestyle and true love and fidelity, alternately and sometimes simultaneously. He reads from Donne’s poems “On a Valediction Forbidding Mourning” and “To His Mistress Going to Bed” to illustrate the contrasts in Donne’s approach in the different periods of his career.

At the time of this interview, Lofaro, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1980-81), was professor of American studies at the University of Tennessee.

Gaudiani, a Fellow at the Center (1980-81), was professor of French language and literature at Purdue University.

Berman was professor of law at Harvard University.

Wall, a Fellow at the Center (1980-81, 2013-14), was professor of literature at North Carolina State University.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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