Why It Helps to Read Great Books: Texts, Society and Time

by Constantin Fasolt

Constantin Fasolt explains the benefits of--and questions raised by--reading core works from Western literature.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Constantin Fasolt

Constantin FasoltConstantin Fasolt is professor of medieval and early modern history at the University of Chicago. He is interested in the historical background behind the principles of political order that governed the European and American worlds from about the eighteenth century until the twentieth. Such principles consist of the distinction between public and private spheres of thought and action, sovereignty, conscience, subjectivity, constitutional government, individual rights, toleration, and the trinity of natural, international and positive law. Their meaning results from a historical process that includes the development of historical thinking itself, extends straight back into medieval times and, in Fasolt's view, will be impossible to grasp as long as historians succumb to the conventional division of history into medieval and modern periods.

Fasolt's research therefore deals with medieval as well as early modern subjects. It has two distinct foci: the nature of late-medieval theories of constitutional government as exemplified in the conciliar movement, and the significance of the early modern turn to history for the development of modern forms of subjectivity. Fasolt has written a book on the former (Council and Hierarchy, 1991) and is completing a book on the latter (The Limits of History). He is general editor of "New Perspectives on the Past," an interdisciplinary series of original books on fundamental aspects of history for specialists and nonspecialists alike that is published by Blackwell Publishers, Oxford and Massachusetts. Fasolt is also a 1989 recipient of the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

COPYRIGHT | Copyright 2000 The University of Chicago.

(c) 2004 The University of Chicago :: Please direct questions or comments to furlong@lib.uchicago.edu