Discussion Questions for Neusner

In addition to the “reflective writing” questions located at the end of Neusner’s essay (216), please respond to the following questions. We will have time in class tomorrow for small group  and discussion when you can complete/revise any questions that you don’t finish before the start of class.  Post your responses to your ePortfolio.

  1. Neusner opens his essay by describing what most people think about the prominence of the major in most people’s ideas about college, but even though he sympathizes, he concludes that “they really are wrong” (210).  Why, in Neusner’s view, are they mistaken?
  2. Neusner asks “what stands behind the idea of a major?” (211), or what gave rise to and supports the practice of requiring students to devote anywhere from a third to one half of their total course work to this “special emphasis.”  Write a 3-5 sentence summary of the theory behind the major.
  3.  Neusner gives more than 8 paragraphs to a discussion of the politics of the major, more than he gave to the theory and even to his advice on “choosing a major.”How does Neusner define the ideal major? Locate and either quote or paraphrase at least two ways most majors do not meet these ideal criteria.
  4. The only other thinker Neusner mentions by name and whose ideas he cites is Jonathan Z. Smith. Look up Smith and the college at the University of Chicago. What does the choice of Smith tell you about Neusner’s point of view?