Monday, June 11, 2007

Building a Masters Programme: Difficulties and Challenges

(continues from May, 21)

The department could include a new member in the staff once in three years at the maximum (and it is the same at the moment). Then, what were meant to do for example the 15 students, who have meanwhile graduated? The number of the enrolled students fluctuated between 30 and 50. In short, could anyone see much sense in the study of classical philology, provided that the education, offered in it, is essentially addressed to one student out of 40?
These problems looked precisely like that in the year, when the first project for a master’s programme was elaborated. It was called “Classical languages”. Obviously, the intention was to continue the perfection of the young people, who have started to learn these languages 9 years ago. Let’s say that meanwhile they haven’t noticed any significant change neither in the methods, nor in the proposed material. They knew, that in the master’s programme they are going to meet the same professors, whom they have already met in the bachelor’s. Then why continue this activity for three more semesters? It is pointless to mention the professional and the financial difficulties, which would inevitably impede even the one out of the forty, who finally might become a member of the regular teaching academics.
It’s no wonder, that during the 90-ies the students were reluctant to enter even in the bachelor’s; and if by chance they entered it, subsequently they were not very eager to remain. Thus the specialty survived several years of crisis, and in order to find at least some students, additional exams have been provided for the candidates, who have failed on the regular exam. As if they have become more suitable within the week between the regular and additional exam! Of course, the crisis was explained predominantly with the societal transition in general: the time will pass and, let’s hope, the things will be settled, and then we are going to have students again.
At the same time in the specialty a new understanding began to shape out. This was a new vision of the classical and humanitarian education in general. Although on the cost of the insufficient familiarity with the interpretations, it should be propagated for a majority of learners, instead of the previous limitation to the minority of specialists. Here it should be pointed out, that since lot’s of time the University and the Department were unable to provide for the academic staff the access to these interpretations: it was considered that it is their own business how to find it – comparable to, say, whence they should buy a washing machine.
The classical philologists should seek candidates for the master’s and even for the bachelor’s in other places, and not only in the specialty or in the Gymnasium for ancient languages and cultures. This opinion led to a result in 2000, when, for the first time since 1982, students were enrolled in the Department, who had passed exams in languages different from Greek and Latin. Surprisingly for the colleagues, some of the beginners quickly left behind the rest of the students, who had whole 5 years of study in the classical Gymnasium. It turned out, that the desire to be well educated could lead to greater achievements, than simply the passive presence at school and in the university, regardless of their duration. This could serve as an argument for the fulfillment of another idea for the master’s studies.

C. Some words about the humanitarian education in Bulgaria

It is worth seeing how it happens so, that a small quantity of inexplicit, but firm convictions may shape an educational programme, including its details. Here are two such convictions, which had great force for the period I’m talking about.
1. The professor is an unquestionable authority, because (s)he knows thoroughly all the things that the student is supposed to know.
2. In order to be well educated the student has to reproduce simply what the professor had said and to acquire his/her level of technical skills (if the character of the specialty presupposes them). In order to achieve these aims what matters is not the interest in the studied matter, but rather the discipline.

These explain why the curricula (I have in mind here mainly the philological ones, but what I am going to say pertains to a great degree to others, as well) were composed in a way, that:

(to be continued)

Monday, June 4, 2007


Classical and contemporary attempts at
the theory of ancient Greek literature

Vol. І.
Aristotle and Hegel

Preface .......................7
Preface to volume І............8

Aristotle’s literary theory...15

І. Aristotle’s idea of literature
1. The question of terms
2. Distinctions between literature and other activities
3. The aim of the literary work

ІІ. The tasks of literary theory
1. The idea of literary science
2. The structure of Aristotle’s “Poetics"
3. The tasks of the literary theory

ІІІ. Classification of literary types
1. Means of imitation
2. Quality of the imitated
3. Way of imitation

ІV. Aesthetic categories
1. The tragic and its discrimination from other aesthetic categories
2. The comic and the ugly
3. The beautiful

V. Rules for composing a literary work
1. Plot
2. Characters
3. Thought and speech
4. Musical and visible part
5. Drawing up the rules for composing a tragedy out of its definition

VІ. Aristotle’s view of the history of literature
1. Literature and human nature
2. The history of literature as a process of distinguishing between types
3. The documented history of literature: the role of poetic talent
4. The aim of the history of literature

VІІ. “Poetics” and the principles of Aristotle’s philosophy
1. The question of definition
2. The literary work as an outcome of the four causae
3. Literature as an instrument of cognition
4. Literature and the development of virtues

The view of literature in Hegel’s “Aesthetics”... 63

І. The structure of “Aesthetics”
1. Artistically beautiful or the ideal
2. Specific forms of the artistically beautiful
A. Symbolic artistic form
B. Classical artistic form
C. Romantic artistic form
3. The arts
A. Architecture
B. Sculpture
C. Romantic arts

ІІ. Greek art and the concept of the classical
1. Greek art and the classic ideal
A. Correspondence between content and form
B. Self-contained form and repose
C. Degree of individualization
2. The classical temple
3. Sculpture
A. Sculpture between architecture and romantic arts
B. Universality and individuality in sculpture
4. The classic in Greek poetry
A. Epic narrative
B. Lyric poetry
C. Drama

ІІІ. Hegel’s understanding of literature
1. The meaning of the term “poetry”
A. Poetry and the other arts
B. Devices in poetry
2. Poetry and prose
A. Poetic and prosaic world view
B. Poetry and the prosaic types
3. Concept, notion, literary work
A. Concept
B. Notion
C. Literary work
4. The poet’s involvement
A. Imagination, objectiveness, originality
B. The classical artist
C. The poet in lyric poetry

ІV. Literary types
1. Epic narrative
A. Epic types and the genuine epopee
B. Characteristics of the genuine epopee
C. The Greek epic narrative juxtaposed with that of other nationalities
2. Lyric poetry
A. Lyric content and form
B. Degree of spiritual development presupposing the development of lyric poetry
C. Types of lyric poetry
D. Historical development of poetry
3. Drama
A. The principle of dramatic poetry
B. The principle of tragedy and comedy
C. The relation of a dramatic work to its audience
D. Ancient and modern dramatic poetry

V. Literature in the history of the spirit
1. Hegel’s philosophy of history
A. The principle of development
B. The geographical factor
C. Subdivision of world history. The East and Europe
2. Literature and history
A. Art in the history of the spirit
B. Literature in the history of art
3. The history of literature
A. Epic narrative
B. Lyric poetry
C. Drama

VІ. Hegel’s contribution to Aristotle’s literary theory
1. The idea of history
A. Terminology
B. Literature and other activities
C. Aim in the literary work
2. Tasks of literary theory
A. The idea of literary science
B. The structure of the literary treatise
C. Tasks of literary theory
3. Classification of literary types
A. Hegel’s criterion for identifying the basic types
B. Classification of subtypes
4. Aesthetic categories
A. The beautiful
B. Specific forms of the beautiful
C. The tragic and the comic
5. Rules for composing a literary work
A. Foundations of a work of art
B. Action
C. Characters
D. Linguistic expression
E. Staging
6. The question of the history of literature
A. Literature and human nature
B. Discriminating the types and the aim of literature
C. Poetic gift

After Hegel. The potential of Marxist cultural studies. A. F. Lossev...219

І. From the history of the concept of culture
1. The necessity for clarifying the concept of culture
A. The point of view of the present research
B. The concept of culture
2. A few words on the ancient and Christian counterparts of the contemporary view of culture
A. “The contemporary view”
B. Antiquity
C. Culture from the Christian point of view
3. Culture as a stage of man’s perfection
A. Attempts at overcoming the dualism between the “spiritual” and the “secular” concept of man
B. The progressist and the essentialist view of culture in Hegel
4. Culture as a specific feature of human existence
A. The anthropological view of culture
B. Hegel and the anthropological view
5. Culture and literature
A. Literature as a product, sign or element of culture
B. Literature – an exponent of Weltanschauung and a performer of functions

ІІ. “The History of Ancient Aesthetics” as Marxist research……236
1. A. F. Lossev and the Marxist philosophy of history
A. A. F. Lossev’s influence in Bulgaria
B. Lossev as a Marxist
2. Culture from the point of view of the general principles of Marxism
A. The Marxist principle
B. The Marxist view of culture
3. Primitive and slave-owning formations. The question of ancient slavery
A. Primitive formation
B. Slave-owning formation
4. Lossev’s theses on ancient culture
A. Lossev’s understanding of “culture”
B. Antiquity as cosmologism
C. Antiquity as fatalism
5. Literature within the framework of ancient culture
A. Ancient literature as an outcome of the meeting of tribal heritage and the slave-owning principle
B. Ancient literature and Lossev’s “Theses”
C. Homer’s theses
6. Lossev and Hegel
A. The historical concept and the idea of culture
B. Culture as Weltsanschauung
C. Culture and literature


How to polemize with the classics. “The open society” of Karl Popper...263

I.Criticism of Platonism
1. Historicism and the fight against change. Plato’s predecessors
2. Socratism and Platonism
3. Thucydides` typology

II. Aristotle as Hegel’s predecessor
1. Anti-equalitarianism and racialism
2. The mean as an “extreme in virtue”
3. Essentialism

II. Criticism of Hegelianism
1. The biological metaphor and the philosophy of identity
2. The nationalistic ideology and the principle of leadership
3. The historical factor in the formation of culture

III. Criticism of Marxism
1. Hegel’s heredity
2. Economic determinism
3. “The better, the worse”, or on the activities of the Communist party
4. The advantages of democratic interventionism
5. Marxism and culture

IV. The open society as a project for social activity
1. The idea of an open society
2. The fight against the open society
3. Rationalism as a moral choice

Al. Nichev on Aristotle’s literary theory...317

І. The mystery of the tragic catharsis
1. Plato and Aristotle
2. The burden of compassion

ІІ. The classical philologist as a literary scholar
1. The function of literature
2. Interpreting the ancient literary text
3. Interpreting the ancient philosophical text

ІІІ. “The mystery” as a moral allegory and an esoteric treatise
1. The problem of religion
2. Science and esoterics

What is ancient Greek literature..........339

І. The idea of literature
1. On definition
2. Criteria for distinguishing between the types of literature
3. Theoretical literature
4. “Historical” literature
5. Rhetorical literature
6. Fiction…

ІІ. Ancient Greek literature
1. The language
2. The culture
3. Two views on ancient Greek literature

Bibliography and abbreviations............357