Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series

Lectures are free and open to the public and are followed by a question-and-answer period.

Divine Plan and Human Agency: The Biblical Story of Joseph
Friday, August 29, 7:30 p.m. 
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Ronna Burger, Tulane University, Department of Philosophy

Genesis is the foundational book of the Bible: almost everything that follows has roots in the opening universal history of mankind and the subsequent narrative of the patriarchal families, beginning with Abraham.  Why does the biblical text require this extended family drama, which centers on the dynamics of sibling rivalry as it unfolds over four generations?  At the end, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, who are amazed and terrified to discover that the youth they sold into slavery is now governor of all Egypt; he assures them that, though they did indeed have evil intentions, God has a greater plan, in which they were instruments for the good.  Joseph is the only figure in Genesis who appeals to such a divine plan operating behind the backs of human agents; yet of all the main characters in the patriarchal families, he is the only one who has no personal exchange with God.  Why should his story bring Genesis to a conclusion, and what does it indicate about its role as the foundational book of the Bible?

Ronna Burger is Professor of Philosophy, Catherine & Henry J. Gaisman Chair, and Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University.  She is the author of Aristotle's Dialogue with Socrates: On the Nicomachean Ethics (Chicago 2008) and The Phaedo: A Platonic Labyrinth (Yale, 1984; St. Augustine’s, 1999).  She teaches a seminar on one work of Plato or Aristotle every semester and has directed numerous dissertations on Greek philosophy.  In recent years she has extended her work to medieval Jewish thought (“Maimonides on Knowledge of Good and Evil: The Guide of the Perplexed I.2,” in Political Philosophy Cross-Examined) and studies of the Hebrew Bible.  Last year she presented “In the Wilderness of Sinai: Moses as Lawgiver and Founder of a People” at St. John’s in Annapolis.

Galileo’s Hermeticism
Friday, September 5, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center

Paolo Palmieri, University of Pittsburgh, Department of History and Philosophy of Science
The high priests of positivism have handed down a myth about Galileo: that he was the founder of modern mathematical-experimental science and that his revolutionary achievement consisted chiefly of  dismantling the constructs of the late medieval cosmos, eradicating its roots in the doctrines of Aristotle and his late scholastic followers. This lecture presents an image of Galileo as a crypto-hermetist, aiming the spotlight at the intersections of his existential pathway with early modern European culture. His work involved Archimedean mathematics, judicial astrology, reconciliation of conflicting truths at the limits of heresy through Biblical hermeneutics, a daemonic aesthetics of light and darkness, the discipline of self-repression vs. libertine sexuality, emotional self-control, and, finally, the magic of experiential learning.

Paolo Palmieri teaches history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus on European modernity and the seventeenth century. His many interests include Montessori method, pragmatism, phenomenology, post-humanism, and their intersections with the sciences.

Jacquelyn Helin and Shanti Randall in Concert
Dean’s Lecture & Concert Series
Friday, September 12, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center

Violist Shanti Randall and pianist Jacquelyn Helin will perform Bach’s Prelude to the 6th cello suite (1st movement), Shostakovich’s Sonata for Viola and Piano, op. 147, and Franck’s Sonata in A Minor for Violin (Viola) and Piano.

Jacquelyn Helin made her New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall as the winner of the Artists’ International Piano Competition; her European debut was at London’s Wigmore Hall. Recent appearances include concertos with the New Mexico, Richmond, Greenwich, Santa Fe, Mesa, and Redwood symphonies, and numerous solo recitals. She has performed locally with Santa Fe New Music, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, the Taos Chamber Music Group, and Ballet Pro Musica. She is the music director of the United Church of Christ in Santa Fe and is on the faculty of the New Mexico School for the Arts.

Shanti Randall, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has recorded and performed with such major artists as Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Bette Midler, Randy Newman, Björk, Andrea Bocelli, Kelly Clarkson, and Barbara Streisand. He performed as violist in over 350 motion picture scores and is a member of the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Opera, played on the Los Angeles “Sundays Live” series radiobroadcasts, and appeared as assistant principal violist with the Ojai Chamber Music Festival, among numerous other national and international performances.

Liberal Education in America and The Cold War
Friday, September 19, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Walter Sterling, Dean of St. John’s College, Santa Fe

Plato portrayed vividly that one could not hope to understand the goals or problems of education without understanding how they are shaped by the existing political regime. The ideal of liberal education in America was, perhaps quietly, bolstered by the great contests of regimes in the 20th century. Can it flourish here, or anywhere, absent such a contest?

"Humboldtian Science and Twentieth-century American Literature"
Friday, September 26, 7:30 p.m.
The Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Kenneth Haynes, Brown University, Department of Comparative Literature and Classics
In his lecture "Humboldtian Science and Twentieth-century American Literature," Kenneth Haynes will be discussing a form of science which (though discredited by Darwinism) survived in an American context well into the early twentieth century and which, paradoxically, appealed to some American modernist writers as an innovative way to unite science and literature. 

Mr. Haynes is Professor of Comparative Literature and Classics at Brown University, and works mainly in the fields of classical reception and modern poetics.

Intentions and History in Livy and Plutarch: The Case of Cato
Friday, October 3, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Jane D. Chaplin, James I. Armstrong Professor of Classics, Middlebury College

Nowadays, when reading Livy and Plutarch, there is an overwhelming preference for the first five books of Livy, filled as they are with the heroism of Lucretia, Mucius Scaevola, Virginia, and Camillus. There is also a tendency to read clusters either of Plutarch’s Roman lives or of the Greek ones, in an attempt to learn about one civilization or the other. Yet another standard approach is to treat Livy and Plutarch as historical sources, mining them for information about antiquity. Good reasons underlie these ways of reading the two authors but they ignore the manifest intentions of both writers. Livy treated Rome’s early history in summary fashion and devoted increasing amounts of space to the more recent past, and Plutarch deliberately paired notable Greeks and Romans. This lecture focuses on Cato the Elder as a way of examining whether and how authorial intention matters to us as readers.

Jane Chaplin has taught at Middlebury College since 1992. She teaches courses in Greek, Latin, and Greek and Roman history. Her area of scholarly expertise is historiography; most of her published work concerns the Roman historian Livy.

The (Plato's) Cave, and the Cave Beneath the Cave, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
Friday, October 10, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Jonathan Hand, St. John’s College, Santa Fe

At the beginning of book VII of Plato’s Republic, Socrates gives “an image of our nature (physis) with respect to its education and lack of education,” namely that famous “cave” in which humans live as prisoners unless and until they are liberated by philosophy. The reference to nature would suggest that this initial condition of unfreedom and ignorance is true everywhere and always—in any society whatsoever, except the lucky few whose souls are turned around and led out. Is this still true, or have modern science, progressive egalitarianism and secularism transformed that condition? Or are we moderns only in a different kind of “cave,” a “cave beneath the cave,” as one recent student of Plato's claimed? Such questions are taken up by Hegel in the Phenomenology and continue to be of capital importance.

Architecture and Aesthetic Education
Steiner Lecture 
Friday, October 17, 8 p.m.
Student Activities Center
Roger Scruton, Oxford

People imagine that the humanities curriculum is centered on great books and written knowledge, with some glances at art and music by way of filling in the history. Architecture is treated either as part of art history or as an annex to engineering. In this lecture, Scruton will show the place of architecture in the humane understanding of our environment to illustrate the concept of settlement and to argue that humane education is meaningless if it does not show people how to settle down.

Roger Scruton is the author of over 40 books, including works of criticism, political theory, and aesthetics, as well as novels and short stories. In addition to his authoritative compendia, Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey (1994), and A Dictionary of Political Thought (3rd Edition, 2007), Scruton has written three important studies in applied philosophy: The Aesthetics of Architecture (1979), Sexual Desire (1986), and The Aesthetics of Music (1997). His latest books are The Soul of the World and a novel, Notes from Underground. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the British Academy. He is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC.

An Informal Visit with Scott Momaday
Friday, October 31, 3:15 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

The artist in residence at St. John’s College will speak informally and read from his work.

Momaday is a writer and a painter. Among his awards are a Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Art, and the Premio Letterario Internazionale “Mondello” (Italy’s highest literary award). He is a UNESCO Artist for Peace and a member of the Stanford University Alumni Hall of Fame. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife, the poet Kathleen Johnson.

The Atrium String Quartet
Friday, October 24, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center

The program includes Haydn’s Quartet in B minor, op. 33, no. 1, Mendelssohn’s Quartet no. 6 in F minor, op. 80, Mendelssohn's Capriccio in E minor, op. 81, no. 3, and Shostakovich’s Quartet no. 8 in C minor, op. 110.

Founded in 2000 in St Petersburg under the inspiration of Professor Josef Levinson, the Atrium Quartet graduated from the St Petersburg Conservatoire in 2003 and then completed their education as a quartet-in-residenz in Amsterdam. Highly acclaimed by audiences and press, the Quartet has performed throughout Europe, Russia, the United States, Australia, Japan, and Brazil. They received First Prize and Audience Prize of the 9th London International String Quartet Competition in 2003 and Grand-Prix of the 5th International String Quartet Competition in Bordeaux in 2007. Recent appearances include recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall in London, Library of Congress in Washington, and the Frick Museum in New York. The Quartet’s discography includes a CD with works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich and a DVD, Live in Concert in the Netherlands, with music by Tchaikovsky.

St. John’s sponsors this concert in conjunction with Performance Santa Fe. Admission is $45. Tickets are available by calling 505-984-8759, or online at


Upcoming Lectures

Rohrbach Memorial Lecture
Friday, November 7, 3:15 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Patrick Olivelle, University of Texas, Department of Asian Studies

Friday, November 14, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Patricia Locke, St. John’s College, Annapolis

Friday, November 21, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Michael Grenke, St. John’s College, Annapolis

Friday, December 5, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Mitch Miller, Vassar College, Department of Philosophy

Friday, December 12, 3:15 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
David Pengelley, New Mexico Student University, Department of Mathematical Sciences
Professor Pengelley will discuss Euclid.

Friday, January 23, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Concert by Pro Musica

Friday, January 30, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Michael Fried, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Professor Fried will discuss Euclid and Apollonius

Friday, February 6, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Alice MacLachlan, York University, Department of Philosophy
Professor MacLachlan will discuss forgiveness.

Friday, February 20, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Michael Zuckert, University of Norte Dame, Department of Political Science
Professor Zuckert will discuss Lincoln.

Friday, March 6, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Tobin Craig, Michigan State University, James Madison College
The topic of this lecture is Bacon and technology.

Friday, April 3, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
James Onstadd and Nathan Salazar in concert.

Friday, April 10, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Walter Brogan, Villanova University, Philosophy Department

Friday, April 17, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Annual Worrell Lecture

Friday, April 24, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
Richard Levin, University of California, Davis, Department of English
Professor Levin will discuss Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Friday, May 1, 7:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Peterson Student Center
James Conant, University of Chicago, Department of Philosophy
Professor Conant will discuss Wittgenstein.