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A Touch More RareHarry Berger, Jr., and the Arts of Interpretation$
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Nina Levine and David Lee Miller

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823230303

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823230303.001.0001

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How Harry Taught

How Harry Taught

(p.255) Chapter 18 How Harry Taught
A Touch More Rare

Nina Levine

David Lee Miller

Fordham University Press

Harry Berger was educated at Yale College and Yale Graduate School, and Yale was justly famous for its lecture courses. While Harry was there, it was the home of what one might call the noble lecture. When Harry taught the Phaedrus, he highlighted Phaedrus's inability to learn what Socrates wants him to. By the end of the dialogue, Phaedrus is convinced, Harry pointed out, but he is convinced by rhetoric, not by dialectic. At the deepest level, Socrates has failed. Harry was a kind of Brechtian teacher at Yale, avoiding the grand rhetorical gesture in favor of the interpretative question. Harry's teaching, was, in sum, designedly imperfect, unfinished. It was meant to leave you asking your own questions after you had considered his. It was meant to avoid the round, the finished, the closed at a time when achieving them was considered the main goal in teaching literature.

Keywords:   Harry Berger, Yale College, course, Phaedrus, teaching, Socrates, rhetoric, dialectic

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