Skip to Main Content

History, Politics, Law, and Economics

What is justice? Or freedom? Are they conventional, derived from human laws? Does either have a basis in nature? What is the best form of government, and can it be implemented? Do human affairs progress, and to what end? These questions and many more are investigated discussing books such as Aristotle’s Politics, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Johnnies have the opportunity to engage in political debates on the Peloponnesian War or modern global economies in two historic capital cities, Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

NOTE

History, politics, law, and economics are a few of the many subjects studied in the college’s integrated great books curriculum. There are no majors at St. John’s. Instead, students explore all these subjects over the course of all four years. Learn more about St. John’s classes.

Books and More

Aeschylus Agamemnon, Eumenides, Libation Bearers

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, Politics

Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness

Dante Alighieri Divine Comedy

Frederick Douglass Selected speeches

W. E. B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk

George Eliot Middlemarch

William Faulkner Go Down Moses

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison The Federalist

Herodotus Histories

Thomas Hobbes Leviathan

Homer Iliad, Odyssey

Immanuel Kant Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail

Abraham Lincoln Selected speeches

Titus Livy Early History of Rome

John Locke Second Treatise of Government

Niccolò Machiavelli Discourses

Karl Marx Capital, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology

Herman Melville Benito Cereno

Plato Apology, Republic

Plutarch “Antony,” “Brutus,” “Caesar,” “Cato the Younger,” “Lycurgus,” “Solon”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract, The Origin of Inequality

William Shakespeare As You Like It, Hamlet, Henry IV, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Richard II, The Tempest

Adam Smith Wealth of Nations

Sophocles Antigone, Oedipus Rex

Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels

Tacitus Annals

Thucydides Peloponnesian War

Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America

Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

Virgil Aeneid

Booker T. Washington Selected writings

Articles of Confederation

Constitution of the United States of America

Declaration of Independence

Documents from American History

Supreme Court Opinions

Hannah Arendt The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, Essays from Between Past and Future and Men in Dark Times

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, Politics

Augustine The City of God

Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville The French Revolution

Albert Camus The Myth of Sisyphus, The Plague, (and other writings)

John Dewey Reconstruction in Philosophy and Democracy and Education

W. E. B. Dubois Souls of Black Folk, and Albert Murray, Stompin’ the Blues

Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

F. A. Hayek The Constitution of Liberty, The Road to Serfdom, Law, Legislation, and Liberty

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Philosophy of Right, Lectures on the Philosophy of History

Martin Heidegger Essays: “What is Metaphysics,” “The Age of the World Picture,” and “The Question Concerning Technology”

Herodotus Histories

David Hume Essays, Moral, Political and Literary

Immanuel Kant Metaphysics of Morals

Niccolò Machiavelli The Prince, Discourses on Livy, and Mandragola

Karl Marx Selections

Herman Melville Moby Dick

Carl Menger Principles of Economics

Baron de Montesquieu The Spirit of the Laws, (most of it with a few selections from The Persian Letters)

Robert Nozick A Bend in the River and The Enigma of Arrival

Plato Alcibiades I and Laches, Laws, Republic

Plutarch Lives

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Confessions, Emile

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Second Discourse, and Smith Theory of Moral Sentiments

Friedrich Schiller Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man

William Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II, Henry IV; Parts I & II, Henry V

Adam Smith Theory of Moral Sentiments

Sophocles Ajax, Antigone

Thucydides The Peloponnesian War

Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy In America

Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

Virgil The Aeneid

Xenophon The Education of Cyrus

Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own, Orlando, To the Lighthouse

Genesis, Exodus

Readings in Social Thought

Medieval Political Philosophy, Islamic and Christian

The Anti-Federalist Papers

The French Revolution- in three parts

American Historical Documents

Ancient Greek Drama: Tragedy, Comedy, Satyr play…Philosophy?

“Oh Captain! My Captain!”

Hannah Arendt On Revolution, The Human Condition, and other works

Aristotle Rhetoric, Poetics

Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex

George Eliot Middlemarch

Niccolò Machiavelli

Plato

Ayn Rand

Claudia Rankine Citizen

Rousseau Emile

William Shakespeare

Strauss

Chinese Classics

Eastern Classics

Gender & Sexuality

Gender Studies

Historical Research

International Relations

Political Discussion

Post-Structuralism

Queer Theory

Speaking Skills

The information presented is for illustration purposes only and may not reflect the current reading list and preceptorial and study group offerings. Works listed are studied at one or both campuses, although not always in their entirety.

Filter By

A Future in Advocacy

Johnnies

Hayley Dunn (A17) plans to help victims of domestic violence before heading off to law school.

Senior Essay

On Greatness in Plutarch’s Lives: Alexander the Great and Pompey

The Cave

Student Group

Student-run coffee shop, run by student volunteers, is a place to get coffee and food.

Chicago History Museum and Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Lecture

Stabilizing Currency: Locke on Money, Morality, and Natural Law

Douglas Casson

Civility on the World Stage

News

Veteran journalist Tom Brokaw and Adm. Mike Mullen visited St. John’s College in Annapolis to discuss current events, from world and domestic issues to the role of the media.

Senior Essay

The Security of Liberty: An Examination of the American Identity in the American Founding Documents

Delegate Council

Student Group

The undergraduate student government run by elected student officers.

International Student Group

Student Group

Covering the World

Alumni

St. John’s College alumnus Danny Hakim (A93) is a Pulitzer Prize winner who works for the New York Times.

Senior Essay

Making Mythology from History: The Truths that Tacitus Can Only Convey by Lying

Students Use Conversation to Spark Change in Zimbabwe

Johnnies

Two St. John’s College students spent part of their summer trying to bring about change in Zimbabwe.

NASA History Program

Internships

When St. John’s College junior Catherine Baldwin interned at the NASA History Program Office last summer, it provided her with a connection to the hit movie “Hidden Figures.”

Senior Essay

My Way’s Cloudy: Misguided Conciliation and the Pursuit of Ideals in W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

Sexual Distinctions and Their Effects in Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Lecture

Living Well: Aristotle on Democracy, Equality, and the Politics of Life

Walter Brogan

Senior Essay

Looking Through the Inner Eye: An Exploration into the Mental and Moral Forces of Clausewitz on War

The Lay of the Land

Alumni

Nearly a dozen St. John’s College students visited Washington, DC to have a wide-ranging discussion with alumnus Brian McGuire (A96).

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Internships

Rohini Pandit (A15) is working as a paralegal in India and applying to law schools in the United States.

The Gadfly

Student Group

The Gadfly is a student-run newspaper that provides campus news, short stories, art, and poetry.

Senior Essay

The Necessity and Use for Rights: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a Means to Promote Common Goals of Freedom, Security, Prosperity, Justice and Peace

Maryland Student Legislature

Student Group

A Message of Solidarity

Alumni

Alumna Lydia Polgreen (A97), editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, brought a message of solidarity to the Steiner Lecture at St. John’s College.

On Quantum Mechanics and Aristotle

Johnnies

Sophy Ma (A17) won the senior essay prize at St. John’s College in Annapolis for her work.

Senior Essay

Can Capitalism Survive? An Examination of Socialist and Capitalist Systems in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy

Governor’s Summer Internship Program

Internships

Virginia Early (A13) is a budget and policy analyst for the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Senior Essay

For All Time: The Negotiation Between Adaptation and Retention of Identity in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Wars

Engaged in Law

Alumni

St. John’s College graduate Joe Lanuti (SF14) is attending Georgetown University Law Center, and was recently involved in a quest to get cameras installed in special-education classrooms in Nevada.

Lecture

Political Order and Political Decay: The American Political System in a Time of Global Upheaval

Francis Fukuyama

Center for Environment Education Nepal

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

The Tyranny of Private Property: An Essay on the Relationship Between the Economic Principles of Adam Smith and Karl Marx

Cherokee Nation to Columbia Law

Alumni

Shawn Watts (SF00) is an accomplished attorney who now serves as associate director of the Edson Queiroz Foundation Mediation Program at Columbia Law School.

The Moon

Student Group

The Moon is the official student-run monthly newspaper.

Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow, National Review Institute

Internships

Ian Tuttle (A14) says the lessons he learned at St. John’s have helped him as he writes for The National Review in New York.

Senior Essay

The Masterpiece of Legislation: Three Different Forms of Government and the English Constitution

Lecture

Krishna Versus the British Empire: the Bhagavad Gita During the Indian Independence Struggle

Richard H. Davis

Johnnie Featured in CNN Town Hall

Johnnies

St. John’s College student Sawyer Neale (A18) stood in the national spotlight Monday and asked Sen. Bernie Sanders if he would run for president again in 2020.

Project Polity

Student Group

This student-run organization arranges group volunteer opportunities.

DC Public Charter School Board

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

The General Will, the Consensus Problem, and the Legislator in Rousseau’s Du Contrat Social

Senior Essay

The Great Unfinished Symphony: Identity, Memory, and Change in Lincoln’s America

Pink Triangle Society

Student Group

Pink Triangle is an LGBTQIA alliance group.

Democracy in Action

Johnnies

Student government plays a prominent role in campus life in Annapolis and Santa Fe.

Student Committee on Instruction

Student Group

The Student Committee on Instruction (SCI) is designed to serve as a forum for the student body concerning academic issues.

Senior Essay

The Form of the Good—An Inquiry into the Fundamentals of Value within the Economics of Smith and Marx

National Prison Project, ACLU

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

The Self-Focused Yet Free Citizen: A Search for Active Citizenship in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Student Polity Council

Student Group

Polity is the undergraduate student government that is run by elected student officers.

Senior Essay

War is Peace: or, The Death of the Republic in Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy

Senior Essay

The Last Full Measure of Devotion: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Gettysburg Address

Entrepreneurship Mastermind

Student Group

Senior Essay

The Nature of Ambition and the Politics of Change: An Essay on Julius Caesar and Shakespeare’s Political Narrative

Common Cause Pennsylvania

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

Is Revolution Justifiable? Abraham Lincoln and the Right to Revolution

Senior Essay

Peace is a Boot, War a Flame: Hobbes’ Leviathan

Veteran’s Club

Student Group

Senior Essay

The Double-Edged Sword of Society: The Decline of the Roman Empire

Yearbook

Student Group

GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance)

Student Group

Leadership in Factious Times

News

The College magazine features an essay by tutor George Russell about Abraham Lincoln and leadership.

Senior Essay

The Masses Rising: An Exploration of the Desire for Republican Government

Intersectional Feminist Group

Student Group

Senior Essay

The Political Advantages of Christianity in a Commonwealth

Black Student Union

Student Group

Senior Essay

Rhetorical Strategies in The Federalist Papers

Finance and Business Club

Student Group

Maryland State Archives

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

On the Advice of Counsel

Alumni

More than a dozen St. John’s College students gathered to pick the brains of two prominent alumni who went on to successful law careers.

Project Politae / Voter Registration

Student Group

Senior Essay

An Argument for the Defense of Liberty

Mock Trial

Student Group

Senior Essay

A Treatise on Rights and Constitutions