Vanquishing the Enemy: Sports, War, And ... Seminar?

Sarah Davis + Julie Reahard

What is the relationship between sports and war? And what is seminar’s relationship to both? In this episode, Santa Fe host Sarah Davis and tutor Julie Reahard talk about Reahard’s passion for sports, her long-running commitment to the St. John’s ice hockey team, and whether her experiences on the court are similar to those that play out on the battlefield of great texts like the Iliad and War and Peace. As the conversation continues, the two stumble across an unexpected connection to sports and war: the competitive instincts that can arise in seminar, in which participants desire to vanquish their ideological opponents; these instincts are common and real, but also stand in tension with the college’s dialectical approach to conversation. From conversational cooperation to sportsmanlike competition to brutal war, this episode takes us on a journey through the best and worst of human nature.

In this Episode

  • Julie Reahard
    Guest Julie Reahard

    Julie Reahard is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, she is studying physics in junior laboratory and leading a literature seminar and Eastern Classics preceptorial in the Graduate Institute.

  • 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

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

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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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