The Arts of Liberty Bulletin

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From the Director

Dear Reader,

In this issue of the Arts of Liberty Bulletin, we continue to reflect upon issues related to grammar, as well as get to know some amazing teachers. Traditionally, grammar referred directly to the art of crafting and analyzing sentences, but more generally to the art of learning to read great works well. In our last issue, we looked at the liberating effects of learning the art of grammar and the help that diagramming offers.

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Grammar Revolution

In preparing for our recent issue devoted to grammar, I watched an hour-long documentary recommended by a colleague, Grammar Revolution, a well-done “indie” that investigated the debates among academics that contributed to the demise of formal grammar teaching. I was surprised to see segments with Lisa VanDamme, founder of VanDamme Academy (VDA) in Aliso Viejo, California, and the mother of a recent student of mine.

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Shannon Valenzuela

Shannon Valenzuela shares something in common with two of the heroes of the current liberal arts renewal. Like Tolkien and Lewis, she is both a respected professor of literature, a creative fiction writer, and one who cares deeply about the formation of the imagination.

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Don Quixote Excerpt on Creative Writing

Miguel Cervantes’ masterpiece, Don Quixote, was considered “the final and greatest utterance of the human mind” by Doestoevsky, and was voted the best book ever written in a survey of top authors. Cervantes begins his prologue by speaking to the “Idle Reader”; the work presents a sustained reflection on the impact that the new reading culture had on 17th century Spanish society. Near the end of volume one, a learned clergyman reflects on the good, bad, and ugly of fictional writing, in words from which today’s creative writers can learn.

Events of Interest

Collegium Institute Grad Colloqium in Philadelphia, PA (February 16 - May 18) - How did the Councils of Trent and Vatican II form our modern world? Philadelphia-area graduate students can join the Collegium Institute for one or all of eight successive Thursday evenings to explore these councils and deepen their understanding of Catholicism.

Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) American Politics and Government Summit in Fort Lauderdale, FL (February 23 - 24) - Faculty and  graduate students are welcome to discuss emerging research in an environment of true academic freedom. Pursue the true by debating principles of ordered freedom as they relate to politics, economics, and philosophy.

Statesmanship in American History Summer Seminar at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ (July 16 - 21) - The James Madison Program and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History are partnering to provide a weeklong event on American statesmanship. Teachers of 8th-12th grade are invited to apply by April 1st.

Further Enrichment

Touching The Art: A New Approach to Art Appreciation - This website offers resources to teach you how to enjoy and immerse yourself in art. Instead of just explaining particular works of art, Luc Travers teaches you how to approach any work of art. Be swept away by art, just like you're swept away by a great movie!

Principia: A Journal of Classical Education - Principia is Baylor University's scholarly journal on the history, theory, practice, and pedagogy of the classic liberal arts education and classical schools today. Access is free - no login or subscription necessary. We especially recommend Dr. Brian A. Williams' “Editorial: Introducing Principia and Contemporary Classical Education” and Dr. Jeffrey Lehman's “The Cave and the Quadrivium: Mathematics in Classical Education” from the Fall 2022 issue.

Medieval ‘Reductio’ vs. Modern Reductivism
-  Dr. Randall Smith examines the truly Catholic reductio, or "leading back" of all sciences to theology as the highest science. He compares this reductio to three forms of modern reductivism that close our minds to truth.

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