Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy All Souls' Day

November has come gently to Notre Dame this year. Today's warm sun made me shed my coat, but there's just enough of a crisp chill to feel like fall. Notre Dame is at its most beautiful on glorious days like this.

Speaking of what's best at Notre Dame, sometimes the quality of the speakers who come to give lectures here blow my mind. Former prime ministers, award-winning authors, politicians, actors, and all kinds of other minor celebrities. Yet astonishingly, it is often the case that the students don't even know these people are on campus.

Today, for example, we have the curator of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History coming to speak about 19th century artifacts and a Yale professor lecturing on Old English and Old Norse verse. The Old Norse epic sagas inspired J.R.R. Tolkien in writing his Lord of the Rings books, so the latter lecture will especially interest fans of Tolkien's work.

Tuesday's calendar features Oxford University fellow Stratford Caldecott lecturing on Beauty for Truth's Sake, a lecture to which I am especially looking forward because Dr. Caldecott advised me on Chesterton while I completed my independent research project in London last spring. Dr. Caldecott owns an extensive collection of Chesterton's personal effects, including his chairs, books, and a toy puppet theater which inspired one of my papers. It will be a pleasure to see Dr. Caldecott at Notre Dame tomorrow.

Wednesday brings the famous Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, to speak as part of the Notre Dame Forum. Earlier that evening, students will have to choose between a panel discussion on Dante's Vita Nova and a lecture on "The Contradictions of Oscar Wilde," both taking place from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. It's a tough call, as both Dante and Wilde rank high on any list of Great Authors, but in this case I would choose Dante because I already know a lot about Wilde while I know very little about Dante's autobiography. Here's hoping I get to attend one of these lectures.
Thank you for reading and Go Irish!

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