St. John's College Graduate Institute Summer Lecture Series
Junior Common Room, Peterson Student Center, Second Floor
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm
June 27 - Bruce Perry: “Panini and the Role of Grammar in the Ancient Indian Tradition”
July 4 - Laurence Nee: “Are There Fairies in the Woods?”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream appears to be Shakespeare’s most playful and joyful work. As we follow the lovers and rude mechanicals through their adventures, we enter as well the world of the fairies and join in their antics. As soon as we begin to dwell comfortably in the fairy-like world of the play, we are reminded of the harsh presentation of love in the opening scene and the rational, chiastic structure underlying the action. We are left to wonder if there is a fairy-like side to our nature and, if so, how we are to understand it. To aid us in our consideration of these questions, we will examine the place of the fairies in the play, as well as Shakespeare’s extensive use of Plutarch. In light of the occasion of this lecture (the July 4th holiday) and the background of the play (the founding of ancient Athens) we will also consider what this play may have to teach us about the nature of liberty.
July 11 - Patricia Greer: “The Sacrificial Snake in the Mahabharata”
A great snake sacrifice is the occasion for the recitation for the Mahabharata. Human characters interact with snakes, and snakes frequently bear human names and take on human form. My talk will explore the presence of these mysterious and magical creatures in the Mahabharata.
July 18 - Eric Poppele: “Science as a Liberal Art”
Accounts of scientific discoveries differ significantly from the activity of scientific enquiry. Most notably, months or years of work might yield a few dozen pages of text, and if the ideas endure the text may be later reduced to a few sentences or equations. Reading the original works can bring us closer to an understanding of the activity, but a gulf between the account and the activity still remains. Can we understand the activity of scientific enquiry without having done it? I offer that the core of scientific enquiry has much in common with the work we do here at the College in many ways, but most significantly in the work of trying to explore and understand a book.
July 25 - Travis Cook: “Enthusiasm & the Sense of Wonder: An Introduction to Shaftesbury”
My talk will consider the relationship between religious sentiment, philosophy, and self-knowledge in Shaftesbury’s thought. I hope the talk will lead to a more general discussion while also providing an introduction to his once-famous and very influential book,The Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times.
August 1 - David McDonald: “Gargantua & Pantagruel”
Rabelais’ book Gargantua & Pantagruel is full of irreverence, scatology, bawdiness, and mad verbal play. And it claims to be like Socrates. I’d like to look at just a few passages in the book which seem to embody the full Rabelaisian complexity, and see whether, and in what respect, the book is indeed Socratic. Along the way, I hope to say something about laughter and excrement.