Community Seminars  2015


Community Seminars are special opportunities for community members to read and discuss seminal works in the same unique manner as our students. Seminars are discussion-based and small in size in order to ensure spirited dialogue. There are topics to pique every interest, and for many participants the discussion-based learning model is an entirely new experience. The seminars are open to high school aged students.



Upcoming Fall Seminars:

The Fellowship of the Ring 
The Art of Solitude 
"The World's Greatest Fisherman" and "The Shawl"

Register Online



The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

Tutor:           Krishnan Venkatesh
Cost:             $210.00  
Dates:           Six Seminars

Saturday, October 3:          

10am - Noon

Saturday, October 10:        

10am - Noon

Saturday, October 17:        

10am - Noon

Saturday, October 24:       

10am - Noon

Saturday, October 31:        

10am – Noon

Saturday, November 7:   

10am - Noon

At a time when everyone in the world has seen Peter Jackson's movie renditions and thinks they know what orcs, elves, dwarves and so on are, it may be high time to revisit this rich and beautifully written English classic and wonder again at its depths and subtleties. It is one of those books that many have read and reread, but that few have studied and discussed, endeavoring to take seriously Tolkien's vision of the human heart and his sense of life. Over the course of a year, we plan to read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy together, and not only discuss it, but discuss it with a fellowship of people whose age may range from teens to seventies, which may be the best way to make Tolkien open up. This adventure may never have been attempted before. Anyone is welcome to join us, whether you have read these books before, whether you already know them by heart, or whether you've never read them but have been wanting to. If you have never read them before, you will be delighted and startled to discover an exciting classic that no movie can really render; if you're already familiar with them, you'll be shocked to find how many new levels will emerge in discussion with intelligent peers.


Register Online

Register by Phone: (505)984-6118
Register by Email:



The Art of Solitude

Tutor:  John Cornell
Cost:    $210.00
Dates:  Six Seminars

Wednesday, October 7:      

6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, October 14:

6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, October 21:

6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, October 28:

6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, November 4: 

6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, November 11:

6pm – 8pm


Schedule and Author


Recommended Edition

Week 1 Marcus Aurelius

Mediations, Books 2 – 7

Gregory Hays translation, Modern Library edition

Week 2 Michel de Montaigne

Of Solitude

Penguin edition

Week 3 JJ Rousseau

Reveries of the Solitary Walker

Paperback, Oxford edition

Week 4 Nikolai Gogol

Diary of a Madman

Vintage edition

Week 5 Rainer Maria Rilke

Letter to a Young Poet

Any edition

Week 6 Fernando Pessoa

The Book of Disquiet

Richard Zenith translation, Penguin Classics

The greatest thing in the world, Montaigne declared, is to know how to belong to oneself.  Fortunately there is a range of classic texts that would instruct us – indirectly or discreetly – on the practice of self-possession:  essays in praise of the private retreat; meditations recorded (allegedly) for the author’s eyes only; novels posing as journals of individuals secretly transcribing and transforming their experience; letters of advice to an unknown advisee.  What does the literature of solitude have to teach the agitated world?  Who are we when we enter into conversation with our souls?  Doesn’t “being alone” presuppose a social self?  At what point does talking to oneself go over the edge into madness?  In this sequence we shall eavesdrop on a number of great soliloquies and explore the paradoxes that arise when intimate, artless reflection becomes a form of art.  And other works will be discussed.


Register Online

Register by Phone: (505)984-6118
Register by Email:



“The World’s Greatest Fisherman” and “The Shawl”, Louise Erdrich

Tutor:            J. Walter Sterling
Cost:             $70.00
Dates:           One Day Seminar 

Saturday, November 14:    10am-Noon; 2pm-4pm

“The World’s Greatest Fisherman” and “The Shawl”
Both of these are included in The Red Convertible: Selected and New Stories, 1978-2008

Erdrich’s acclaimed body of work beautifully interweaves complex layers of narration and perspective, in a certain symmetry to the difficult and painful beauty of the generations of the Native American families she brings to life. These two stories, including her landmark 1979 work, will give us two opportunities to study and discuss themes of family, loss, myth, story-telling, resilience, and the element of nature, as they emerge through her finely wrought prose. 


Register Online

Register by Phone: (505)984-6118
Register by Email:




*Texts are available for purchase at the St. John’s College Bookstore. Unless otherwise noted, participants are expected to obtain the reading materials and read before the seminar.

*Please call 505-984-6118 or email Yoshi Gruber (hyperlink email) to register for any of the seminars.

*Full-time teachers with proof of current employment can enroll in a Community Seminar at a 50-percent discount. Community Seminars are free to 11th and 12th grade high school students (limited spaces available).


Full refund will be made to participants who cancel at least one week prior to the first seminar meeting.

Give the gift of education. Gift certificates available.