The Thrill of Literature—and of the Universe

Sarah Davis + Grant Franks

Is it important to feel when we read literature? Or when we learn math and science? On a related front, what is the role of order and disruption in literature, in life, and in our observation of the universe? In this episode, Santa Fe host Sarah Davis and tutor Grant Franks explore the meaning and value of feeling, then launch into a wide-ranging conversation about the ways in which emotion, order, chaos, and discovery seem central to great literature, to world-changing shifts in math and science, and to one’s own sense of self and belonging. Through dramatic moments and characters in the Iliad, the Aeneid, and The Brothers Karamazov to Newton’s Principia Mathematica and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, this episode investigates what makes us feel and how to feel about deep feeling.

In this Episode

  • Grant Franks
    Guest Grant Franks

    Grant Franks (A77) is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is pondering Joyce in sophomore seminar and discussing Darwin in senior laboratory.

  • Host Sarah Davis

    Sarah Davis is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, she is discussing Aristotle in freshman seminar and Dedekind’s theory of numbers in junior mathematics.

Featured Release

Socrates says that the intellectual practice of philosophy is a practice for dying. But what if the body is the vessel that can best prepare us for the end of life? In this episode, martial artists (and Santa Fe tutors) Krishnan Venkatesh and Claudia Hauer explore the problem of the philosophical separation of mind and body through the lens of two essayists—the 13th-century Japanese author Dogen and the 16th-century French essayist Montaigne.

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Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


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