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Cool Class: Happiness and Reality in Ancient Thought

June 1, 2021

In Happiness and Reality in Ancient Thought, taught by Assistant Professor of Philosophy Thimo Heisenberg, students look to ancient writers and philosophers to answer the question: "What makes us happy?"

Among the writers students studied during the spring 2021 offering of the course was the Greek poet Sappho, and the class was treated to a virtual visit by noted poet and classicist Anne Carson, who talked to them about Sapphic poetry. Carson's translation of Sappho's poems is still the standard translation used in college classrooms.

As part of her visit, Carson gave students an assignment in which they had to:

  1. Pick a person from one of Sappho's poems
  2. Write something in their persona (e.g., a poem, a grocery list, a curse etc.)
  3. And then fragment the product in a meaningful way.

Below are three of the pieces students created:







"Anne Carson was a wonderful guest and her assignment really gave the students a chance to show off their creative talents," says Heisenberg.

Happiness and Reality in Ancient Thought will be offered again during the spring 2022 semester.

The Bryn Mawr Department of Philosophy introduces students to some of the most compelling responses, both historical and contemporary, to questions of human existence and knowledge. It grooms students for a variety of fields which require analysis, conceptual precision, argumentative skill, and clarity of thought and expression. 

"Cool Classes" highlights new and interesting classes at Bryn Mawr. To see the full listing of Philosophy courses being offered, visit the department page. Visit the Cool Classes homepage to see more of these stories from across a range of programs and disciplines at Bryn Mawr.

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