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Summer Lectures at St. John’s College

Posted by Chris Gruber on June 25, 2014

Summer Lectures at St. John’s College

SANTA FE — The St. John’s College Graduate Institute sponsors a summer lecture series, beginning on Wednesday, June 18, and continuing for six consecutive Wednesday afternoons, concluding July 23.  All lectures are held in the Junior Common Room in the Peterson Student Center unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public, each lecture is followed by a question-and-answer period.


“What Hegel’s Reading of Newton Teaches us about Newton, Nature and Spirit,” presented by John Anders, a doctoral candidate in economics at Texas A&M University
Wednesday, June 18, 3:15 p.m.

Hegel’s reading of Newton can be seen as a detailed working out of some problems inherent in the way Newton proceeds in Prop. 1 of the Principia. In particular, Hegel shows that Newton is wrong to think of centripetal and centrifugal forces as separate, independent things; a complete account of planetary motions must include whatever third reality underlies both centrifugal and centripetal forces. Hegel's reading of Newton also forms part of the transition from Consciousness to Self-Consciousness. Accordingly, when we understand the problems Hegel finds in Newton, we can better understand how a natural philosopher is always investigating her own consciousness even as she thinks that she is investigating a world that is entirely other than her consciousness.

Anders graduated from St. John's College, Santa Fe, in 2003, and then earned a masters of arts in philosophy and in the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh. He has worked as an adjunct instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and recently earned a masters of arts in economics from that institution. He has published articles on issues in Aristotle, the history of mathematics, and logic. In fall 2014, Anders will start a doctorate in economics at Texas A&M University. 


“Nagarjuna’s Imperishable Promissory Note,” presented by April Olsen, a doctoral candidate at
Tulane University
Wednesday, June 25, 3:15 p.m.
Nagarjuna was a 2nd Century Indian Buddhist philosopher who articulated the doctrine of emptiness (Shunyata) and is traditionally regarded as the founder of the Madhyamika ("Middle Way") school, an important tradition of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy.

After graduating from Notre Dame in 2000, Olsen taught middle and high school for a decade in Chicago and San Diego County. She received a master of arts in liberal arts and a master of arts in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College in 2012. She is currently doctoral student in philosophy at Tulane University, where she teaches undergraduate classes in Buddhism.


“A Benign Self-Portrait,” presented by N. Scott Momaday, artist in residence,
St. John’s College, Santa Fe

Wednesday, July 2, 3:15 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist N. Scott Momaday will read from his poetry and selected autobiographical passages.

Of Kiowa-Cherokee heritage, Momaday has long been respected for his varied oeuvre, which celebrates and preserves Native American oral tradition and art. His first novel, House Made of Dawn, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969.  Since then he has published more than a dozen works, including novels, children’s stories, poetry, essays, and a memoir. In the mid-1970s, Momaday took up drawing and painting. His art has been exhibited widely in the United States, and his drawings and etchings illustrate his newer books.

Raised first on the Kiowa Indian Reservation in Oklahoma and then in Arizona, where he was exposed to the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo Indian cultures of the Southwest, Momaday developed an abiding interest in literature, especially poetry. After graduating from the University of New Mexico, he won a poetry fellowship to Stanford University’s creative writing program, where he earned a doctorate in English literature in 1963. He subsequently taught at the University of California-Santa Barbara and then at U.C.-Berkeley, where he was professor of English and comparative literature and also designed a graduate program of Indian studies. Professor Momaday also taught for years at the University of Arizona.  Momaday received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2007.  He was the Oklahoma Centennial State Poet Laureate from July 2007 to January 2009 and has been artist in residence at St. John’s college since February 2014.


“Forbidden Fruit: The Banning of The Grapes of Wrath in Kern County,” presented by Marci Lingo, a former professor of English and reference librarian at Bakersfield College
Wednesday, July 9, 3:15 p.m.
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath has been banned throughout its 75-year history; even today it continues to be challenged for its realistic depiction of the plight of the Okie migrants’ life in California, its political ideology, and its graphic language. One of the first and most famous incidents of banning occurred in 1939, a few months after its publication, in Kern County, California, a setting in the novel. The county had experienced explosive population growth due the influx of Dust Bowl migrants, and the novel describes both their destitution and exploitation. The Kern County Board of Supervisors and the powerful business interests that controlled it resented Steinbeck’s depiction of the treatment the migrants received at the hands of farmers and government officials. The ban was both controversial and unprecedented; it exposed the economic, social, and political power of business organizations like the Associated Farmers. It also revealed the fragility of the public library’s power to defend its patrons’ right to read and the precarious nature of intellectual freedom of libraries at this point in American history.

 Lingo retired in spring 2014 as professor of English and reference librarian at Bakersfield College. She received her bachelor of arts in English from the University of the Pacific, her master of arts in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and her master of library and information services degree from San Jose State University. Lingo spent her early career in the Kern County Library system, where The Grapes of Wrath had been banned.


“That time of year thou mayst in me behold,” presented by Jacques Duvoisin, a tutor at St. John’s College, Santa Fe

Wednesday, July 16, 3:15 p.m.

Duvoisin will discuss Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 (“That time of year thou mayst in me behold”), with special attention to the rhetorical structure of the poem—its use of tropes to work through the various ways death inhabits life. The sonnet speaks of “bare ruin’d quires,” of “death’s second self,” and “the ashes of his youth”—in each case, enacting an ambiguity between the written word and the reality it names, as if to say that the reality of death is inseparable from our ability (or inability) to name it.

Duvoisin received a bachelor of arts degree in 1980 from St. John’s College, Annapolis, and went on to earn a master of arts and a doctorate in 1984 and 1992, respectively, from The Catholic University of America. Before joining the faculty of St. John’s College, Santa Fe, he was a Knights of Columbus Fellow (1981–1984) and a visiting fellow in the University of London’s School for Advanced Studies, Institute of Philosophy.


“What is Socrates’ Question?” presented by John Bova, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Villanova University

Wednesday, July 23, 3:15 p.m.

What is the signature question asked by Plato’s Socrates in what are sometimes called his elenctic, or refutational, conversations? This question apparently answers itself! We all know, on the authority of Aristotle, that Socrates’ question is none other than this very ti esti, or What is...? question that we have used in posing this or any problem of essence. Nevertheless, Bova suggests that Plato’s dialogues show a different answer—that the ti esti defines only one pole of a dual Socratic question.

Bova earned a BS in philosophy and mathematics from Towson University in 2002, an MA in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College in 2003, and an MA in philosophy from Villanova University in 2009. He is now a doctoral candidate in the philosophy department at Villanova University. Since 2012 he has been an affiliated researcher in the philosophy department of the University of New Mexico. The title of his forthcoming dissertation is The Idea of the Good: Metalogic is Ethics.


“Beyond Fate, Fortune, and Providence,” presented by Jay Smith, a tutor at St. John’s College,
Santa Fe
Wednesday, July 30, 3:15 p.m.
Starting from an understanding of the increased scope of human action as transformed by technology, Smith will examine some of the ethical and education implications of this increase. Hans Jonas’s seminal work, “The Imperative of Responsibility,” will be the source text for the examination of the increased and accumulating effects of human actions, especially as regards life possibilities of future generations. 

Smith earned his bachelor of arts degree from St. John's College, Santa Fe, in 1977, a master of arts in philosophy from Marquette University in 1979, and a doctorate in philosophy from Fordham University in 2002. Before joining the St. John’s faculty in 2001, Smith worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and also as an environmental consultant.


Bread Loaf Lectures
The Bread Loaf School of English, a graduate program of Middlebury College, has been offering courses in literature, writing, and the teaching of writing at St. John's College for more than a dozen summers. The courses are augmented by lectures by distinguished artists and writers, which are free and open to the public.


Luci Tapahonso, Navajo Poet Laureate
Tuesday, June 24, 7 p.m.
Junior Common Room
Peterson Student Center

Kylene Beers, Former President of the National Council of Teachers
Tuesday, July 1, 7 p.m.
Junior Common Room
Peterson Student Center

Myrlin Hepworth, Hip Hop Artist and Social Activist
Tuesday, July 15, 7 p.m.
Coffee Shop
Peterson Student center


St. John’s College is located at 1160 Camino Cruz Blanca. For more information on either lecture series, call 505-984-6000.