his interactive presentation demonstrates techniques for reading Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality:

General Purposes

It is hoped these engagements will serve to open doors for your work with this book, the reward of which is the excitement it can generate in your imagination. Picture yourself in conversation with Rousseau. Take a pleasant walk together through the woods, or accompany him as he imagines himself "in the Lyceum of Athens" as depicted in the book cover's Cochin painting (79).

We can read a book sympathetically or combatively. A sympathetic reading of a book like Rousseau's can draw us into its drama of ideas. A combative reading, on the other hand, can create a debate between us and the author. Neither reading will bring total comprehension. But that incomplete understanding is "not a humiliating defeat or a piece of mysticism but a kind of joyous invitation to reread" [George Steiner in the Paris Review 137, (Winter:1995):58].

Rousseau's Discourse is initially hard to comprehend. When you read, find places where Rousseau appears to contradict himself, where he uses the same word with subtly different meanings, where he employs logic to attack logic, or where he replaces logical analysis with emotional appeals and conjecture. As you reread, how do you respond to his strategies? You might consider what different readings are possible whether you view the book as political opinion, social criticism, or moral philosophy.

The techniques gained or enhanced by doing this hypertext reading exercise will prove invaluable in dealing with each Core Course book. Marking the Discourse text for future reference is necessary preparation for your talking and writing about it. For rethinking it. And tagging its words and phrases, its longer passages, its trains of thought, in sympathy or in challenge, provides a richer, clearer experience when one accepts that "invitation to reread."

---Richard Becker, Department of Music

Core-Course Technology Committee

Richard Becker, Music

Joe Essid, English

Martin Ryle, History

Marcia Whitehead, Boatwright Library

Daniel Hocutt, English--Creative design and production of this site

The committee wishes to thank the Program for Enhancing Teaching Effectiveness, Dr. Zeddie Bowen, Dr. David Leary, and Dr. Hugh West for supporting this project.

Marcel Cornis-Pope and Michael Keller, of Virginia Commonwealth University, provided invaluable assistance in helping the committee understand the potentials of academic hypertext. Robin Chew, Publisher of Lucidcafe Interactive Cafe, provided the image of Rousseau.

Special thanks to Kim Joyce, Bob Littlepage, and Laurel Moore for technical and administrative assistance.