Lonergan Lectures Available On Tape

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Members of the Boston College community now have free access to taped lectures by some of today's leading thinkers, covering subjects and disciplines ranging from Einstein and Tocqueville to theology, mathematics, music, economics, architecture and painting.

The Lonergan Center in Bapst Library has more than 200 recordings of talks given at the Perspectives Institutes, seminars held each May at which College of Arts and Sciences faculty and visiting scholars share approaches to teaching the great books. Although the tapes do not circulate, Lonergan Center Administrative Assistant Kerry Cronin said she will make copies for anyone who brings blank cassettes to the center, located on the second floor of Bapst.

The Audio Visual Department has been re-mastering the 90-minute tapes, some of which date back to the mid-1970s and had been showing their age, Cronin noted. About a quarter of the process had been completed by the end of August, she said.

Invited lecturers who have been captured on tape include University of Chicago Professor Allan Bloom, author of the best-seller The Closing of the American Mind , speaking on Plato, Niccolo Machiavelli and John Locke; German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer on George Hegel; and Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon on Max Weber and Karl Marx. Tapes from the most recent Perspectives Institute this past May include lectures by philosopher Louis Dupre on Baroque culture and by Prof. Michael Himes (Theology) on the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher.

Lonergan Center Administrative Assistant Kerry Cronin. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

"The whole liberal arts canon is in there," said Cronin. "You can listen to these tapes and, at a really common-sense level, get an understanding of the great books. You can sit and listen to a Bloom tape on Plato's Apology and get some of the key themes without having a scholarly background.

"These tapes give you very compact lessons on entire texts," she said. "For people taking courses on these subjects, the tapes are valuable as supplementary learning aids. And for a general audience, they serve as a really good introduction to the great books."

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