Cura Personalis: Joseph Walsh, Ph.D.
Cura Personalis takes a look at a member of the Loyola family, considering the whole person.
April 9, 2010
Joseph Walsh, Ph.D., was an undergraduate at Fairfield University in Connecticut before picking up a graduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. He then went on to study in Augsburg, Germany, at the American Academy in Rome, and at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens before coming to Loyola in 1988. Here Walsh—an associate professor in the departments of classics and history—reflects on his career at Loyola.
WHAT MAKES CLASSICS SO APPEALING TO YOU AS A TEACHER?
The Greeks and Romans are infinitely interesting, and some of the most remarkable pieces of historical analysis come from them. For example, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is very dark and very cynical, but he did a brilliant job in understanding human nature and how people delude themselves through fear, hope, and ambition.
WHAT SORT OF STUDENT IS ATTRACTED TO CLASSICS?
Our students tend to be bright kids. Latin is difficult, and Greek is even harder. These students tend to be pretty interesting and ready to focus and dig and think. They are willing to sit down and find the pearls and diamonds that are buried deep in the earth.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN LOYOLA STUDENTS DURING YOUR 20 YEARS TEACHING HERE?
On the whole, I think the quality of writing (among incoming students) has gotten weaker. I really try to help students think and write clearly and logically.
One of the changes for the better—and this may seem odd—is that our
culture is less fair-minded and impartial. For instance, when it comes to politics, evidence and logic are totally irrelevant. However, at Loyola, the students are more open to giving a shot at understanding different points of view. They are more willing to listen and say, “Well, you are right after all.”
WHAT CAN BE FOUND ON YOUR DESK?
A gazillion papers in all sorts of chaotic piles, my laptop, and various books.