Welcome to Brilliant Minds

A companion site for courses by Peter Arcese on classics, contemporary literature, and the arts ... Here you will find items related to our readings and discussions ... Ideas, images, background information, suggested readings, bibliographies, and notes on related performances, all find a presence here ... Enjoy your reading and check back regularly for new posts!

Here is our Reading Schedule for the Spring 2019 semester with recommended editions: 

  • Feb 5 & 12, Aeschylus, Persians, trans. Lembke and Herington (Oxford UP)
  • Feb 19, Elias Lonnrot, The Kalevala, trans. Keith Bosley (Oxford World Classics)
  • Feb 26 & Mar 5, Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, trans. G. H. McWilliam (Penguin)
  • Mar 12 & 19, Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I, ed. Mowat and Werstine (Folger Library)    
  • Mar 26, George Eliot, Silas Marner, ed. David Carroll (Penguin Classics)
  • Apr 2 & 9, John Steinbeck, East of Eden, intro. David Wyatt (Penguin Classics)
  • Apr 16, Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (Penguin Classics)
  • Apr 23, Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (Vintage)


For more on Salamis, consider these items:

Even though this satellite image was generated for other purposes, it shows the key area where the battle occurred and really conveys how narrow the straits are. The area in the centered square is where much of the fighting took place.

DLR Earth Observation Center

You might also enjoy this website to follow up on the Battle of Salamis and related topics:


And for additional reading, see Barry Strauss' book:

The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece -- And Western Civilaztion

Selections for the Decameron

The Decameron
If you're strapped for time, concentrate on the asterisked selections!

  • *Prologue
  • First Day: stories 1, 2 & 3
  • Second Day: stories 5, 7 & 9
  • *Third Day: stories 1, 9 & 10
  • *Fourth Day: stories 1, 5 & 9
  • Fifth Day: stories 8, 9 & 10
  • Sixth Day: stories 4, 7, 9 & 10
  • Seventh Day: stories 2, 8 & 9
  • Eight Day: stories 3, 5 & 7
  • Ninth Day: stories 2, 3, 6 & 9
  • *Tenth Day 10: story 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 & 10
  • Epilogue


Kalevala selections

The structure of the Kalevala as composed by Elias Lonnrot is a topic in and of itself. The following selections emphasize essential themes of creation and art, which I recommend as central to our discussion. The Kalevala is also rich in epic themes of vengeance, rivalry, courtship (Cantos 18 - 19), contests and adventures (Cantos 26 - 27), and the supernatural, including an apocalyptic war and restoration of the world (Cantos 43 - 49), and bear fights! So, I suggest you sample additional Cantos as your reading time permits.

Cantos 1 & 2: creation

Cantos 6 - 10: forging the Sampo

Cantos 16 - 17: the journey to the underworld

Cantos 37 - 38: forging a wife

Cantos 39 - 42: theft and music

Canto 50: the birth

Coming up to Kerouac

Here is a link to the Original Scroll:

On the Road: The Original Scroll

The book I highly recommended in class to consider reading along with On the Road, is the following collection of Allen Ginsberg’s lectures on the Beats:

The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beats

Another great work to consider is Robert Frank’s seminal photobook (Kerouac wrote the Introduction):

The Americans