Is there love at first sight?
is a hot topic, especially on Valentine's Day. Which
is why Amy
and Leon Kass are a few minutes late to their team-taught
seminar, Ethics in Everyday Life: Courtship. The couple--she's
a Quantrell Award-winning senior lecturer in the College; he's
the Addie Clark Harding professor in the Committee on Social Thought
and the College--are only a few doors away, being interviewed
on National Public Radio about their new anthology, Wing to
Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying.
of sex education,
which is to train
the hearts and minds
by means of noble examples for romance leading to a loving
Kass, SB'58, MD'62
double duty as the syllabus for the equally new seminar, the thick,
maroon-bound paperback is the first thing out of each student's
backpack as the class enters Cobb 116 on a gray Monday afternoon.
The students are growing used to media attention: the previous
week they'd played host to an NBC Nightly News crew. Stories
about the course--designed to provide what Leon
Kass has described as "a higher kind of sex
education, which is to train the hearts and minds by means of
noble examples for romance leading to loving marriage"--have appeared
in papers across the country. "Hey, Joe!" you can hear an editor
saying to her reporter. "Here's a cute story--a college class
that teaches kids how to date, and just in time for Valentine's
they await their professors, the Courtship seminar's two dozen
or so undergraduates and grad students, a few more more women
than men, talk amongst themselves about topics that don't often
show up on Rosie or in Cosmo quizzes. Like Plato.
("I'm not a very big Plato fan, but it's easy to see why people
concentrate on the cave allegory; it's very much the heart of
his philosophy.") Or the trials of having a hard-to-explain-to-the-folks-back-home
major. ("If I said I was a Fundamentals major, they would think
I was learning to tie my shoes.") Or which comedy by Aristophanes
is which. ("I know it wasn't Lysistrata--oh, it's The
find the ritual of courtship as old-fashioned as this valentine,
what do they think of marriage?
stops when Amy
(AB'62) and Leon (SB'58, MD'62) Kass enter the classroom.
Both are gray-haired and bespectacled; both wear crisp, blue Oxford
shirts; he's in gray flannels and she wears a Black Watch tartan
skirt. They take their places at opposite ends of the table, both
with a chalkboard at their backs--chalkboards that won't get used.
For the next two hours, the class's modus operandi will
be discussion, pure and not-so-simple, centered on a close reading
of the day's assignment, five excerpts from Shakespeare's As
You Like It.