New Faculty Classically Philosophical About Starting Over

by Christa Edwards '04, Saida Beckum '07

Rivka Weinberg, philosophy

“My philosophy on life? Probably that I don’t have one!” offered Dr. Rivka Weinberg, Scripps’ new professor of philosophy, with a laugh.

Although this is only her second year as a full-time professor, and her first at Scripps,Weinberg was a teaching assistant while pursuing her degrees at CUNY and also the University of Michigan.When asked what drew her to Scripps, she said that she loved the idea of a liberal arts college that had a small and intimate environment and still offered the interaction of a larger campus, due to the joint program among the five Claremont Colleges.

Weinberg said she has always been drawn to the field of philosophy. She likes the fact that there are no boundaries to how and what questions are asked, as opposed to other fields, where one can only ask so many questions, and even then, ask them only in certain ways.

The hardest thing about teaching philosophy? “Finding enough time to write,” she replied. She says that, overall, philosophy is a very difficult field because it requires one to keep up to date with new trends and schools of thought in order to maintain caliber and compete for jobs.What makes it all worthwhile for Weinberg is seeing the attitudes of the students change as their minds open—from when they first enter the classroom to when they leave at the end of the semester.

David Roselli, classics

scripps’ new classics professor David Roselli moved to California because he was eager for change. “There are essentially two places you live if you have a personality,” he claims.”New York City is one of them. L.A. is the other. I like to think of myself as having a personality, so now I am closer to L.A.”

After teaching at Vassar, he was initially unsure what to expect from Scripps students. “I love it!” he says. “I’ve found that the quality of students is pleasantly high. Most students I’ve interacted with here have been more responsive, more intelligently critical…not just critical for the sake of being critical. Maybe it’s because Scripps offers the Core; students are trained to be critical from the start.”

Scripps offered Roselli the rare opportunity to blend classical and modern interests. “At a lot of colleges and universities you’d be hired for just one subject, say, Greek drama,” he explains.”I want to be able to teach outside my discipline, to tie in different areas and more recent themes. Scripps allows a degree of flexibility.”

He currently teaches “Introductory Latin” and “Ancient World in Film” and next semester will teach “Continuing Introductory Latin,””Advanced Greek,” and a course on ancient epics including Gilgamesh, Homer, and Ovid. Roselli is also taking advantage of Scripps’ flexibility by spending much of his free time brainstorming new courses, including ancient-versus-modern comparative democracy, theories and representation of human sacrifice, and theater.

Beyond the specific topics in his courses, Roselli wants to demonstrate to students that a solid understanding of the
ancient world is a key to interpreting the present.”Knowledge of classics and the ancient world not only helps you sound
intelligent at art openings and soirées where you want to impress people, but it also shows you that there are options and choices in life,” he says.

Now happily settled into the Scripps College community, Roselli is contemplating learning to surf. “I’m a beach freak,” he admits. “I grew up on the ocean. I haven’t learned to surf, but I think I might like to do that. Especially the L.A. style of surfing, where you just paddle out on a board and bob around in the ocean. I could definitely get into that.”