Annapolis Graduate Institute Preceptorials
The following are preceptorials for the upcoming semester.
Spring 2022 On-Campus Preceptorials
Tutor: Mr. Louis Petrich
Description: Moby-Dick is Melville’s masterpiece. At its very heart is Captain Ahab, who challenges God and His creation in a world-wide hunt to find and kill the great white whale, and Ishmael, an outcast who wants to know the meaning of the actions aboard that whaling vessel, the Pequod. Melville’s book taxes the imagination as the Bible does, and it rewards the effort with the vigor of a quest. The words of this epic American poem (for it is a poem, though written in prose) summon good and evil across time and space in a single burning vision. Participants should find, in the experience of reading it thus, a severe kind of happiness.
Text edition: Norton Critical Edition, 2017, ISBN-13: 978-0393285000.
First assignment: Etymology, Extracts, and Chapters 1–9.
Tutor: Mr. Jeffrey Black
Description: Do you want to learn how to rule the world? In The Education of Cyrus, or Cyropaedia, Socrates’ student Xenophon tells the story of the education and rise to power of the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great. He claims, in doing so, to address the question of how political rule can be made permanent; he also composes the first exemplar of the literary genre later known as ‘mirrors of princes’—a genre whose most famous exemplar is Machiavelli’s Prince. In The Anabasis of Cyrus, by contrast, Xenophon tells the story of how he and ten thousand Greek mercenaries were stranded deep in the Persian empire, having just supported Cyrus the Younger in his unsuccessful attempt to seize the Persian throne from Artaxerxes II—and of how the practical application of Socratic philosophy helped him to lead the Greeks through hostile territory, to the Black Sea, and to safety.
Recommended Texts: Xenophon, The Education of Cyrus. Translated and annotated by Wayne Ambler. (Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 2001). ISBN-10: 0801487501, ISBN-13: 978-0801487507
Xenophon, The Anabasis of Cyrus. Translated and annotated by Wayne Ambler. With an Introduction by Eric Buzzetti. (Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 2008). ISBN-10: 0801489997; ISBN-13: 978-0801489990.
First Assignment: The Education of Cyrus, Book I.
Tutor: Mr. Steven Crockett
Description: Between the time of the American revolution and the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the national laws—despite the revolution’s declaration that “all men are created equal”—permitted slavery to exist in many places in the nation, and even to expand. And though the bloody civil war brought to an end the Constitution’s support of slavery, we are still contending with slavery’s lingering effects. In the hope that knowing more about that past will, human nature being what it is, help us contend with the present, and know better how to judge both the past and ourselves, the reading list will consist largely of writings by thought-taking people who participated in one way or another in the events of those years, among those people Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Sojourner Truth, John C. Calhoun, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Nat Turner, de Tocqueville, and Karl Marx. (Imagine a history of the Peloponnesian war in which the speeches are always what the speaker, and never Thucydides, thought was called for by the situation.) These people perhaps can help us understand what questions we should be asking, and how they might be answered.
First assignment: Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Chapters 1–7 (from the beginning to 1256a1) and 12–13 (from 1259a6 to the end of Book 1); Exodus, Chapters 1–12 and 19–23.9. Galen, On the Passions and Errors of the Soul, from sections IV and V. (Copies will be provided by the tutor.)
Tutor: Mr. Robert Goldberg
Description: The second semester course in Ancient Greek language. The text that will be translated is TBD. Participation in this class requires successful completion of a fall semester “Introduction to Ancient Greek” course, or permission of the tutor.
Spring 2022 Low-Residency Preceptorials
Online, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. MT
Tutor: Mr. David Starr
Description: The Brothers Karamazov by F. M. Dostoevsky (often said to be his greatest novel) is about three sons of a disreputable and dissipated 19th century Russian businessman. All—a soldier, an intellectual, and a monk—have inherited personal, economic, social and spiritual issues from their common father and respective mothers. The youngest son, whom Dostoevsky calls his “hero,” believes he has found spiritual resources for all. Has he? Let’s see for ourselves.
Edition: Translation by either Constance Garnett or R. Pevear & L. Volokhonsky (various editions)
First Assignment: Book 1
Tutor: Mr. Alan Zeitlin
Description: After reminding ourselves of the conclusions Darwin reached in On the Origin of Species, we’ll read The Descent of Man, his exploration of the origins and nature of human beings—a project that will require considerable effort given the book’s length and richness.
Recommended text: The Penguin edition (paperback) ISBN 978-0-140-43631-0
First assignment: Come to class having read the final chapter of On the Origin of Species (“Recapitulation and Conclusion”) and the introduction and first chapter of The Descent of Man (pages 17–43 in the Penguin edition).
Tutor: Ms. Erica Beall
Description: Both the aphoristic style and the philosophical content of this work resist the idea of a system or a theory; nonetheless, Wittgenstein’s investigations are coherent, incisive, and methodical in their own way. Wittgenstein spreads his thoughts out in many different directions, all of which are exciting and worthy of our attention. In this preceptorial, we will work slowly through the text, making an effort to articulate the threads that unite this rich web of ideas about the nature of thought, language, logic, and human community.
Edition: The preferred translation (and the only one widely available) is by G.E.M. Anscomb.
First assignment: Aphorisms 1–19
Tutor: Ms. Anita Kronsberg
Description: Herodotus provides his own introduction: “I, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, am here setting forth my history, that time may not draw the color from what man has brought into being, nor those great and wonderful deeds, manifested by both Greeks and barbarians, fail of their report, and, together with all this, the reason why they fought each other.” (David Grene translation)
The History, at least at the outset, is strange to many modern readers. Herodotus travelled a great deal in his effort to discover the causes of the fighting. He reveals and evaluates many of his sources but also seems to value custom and myth as much as first-hand accounts. The book is filled with the color, greatness, and wonder he refers to at the beginning. Part of the joy and the challenge of reading it is to try to comprehend the kind of account Herodotus offers us and see it, as far as possible, as he conceived it.
Edition: There are quite a few translations available and you can read samples of many online. In recent years the two most often read are probably the Grene and the Purvis (in the Landmark edition). Make sure that whatever translation you choose has section numbers in addition book numbers. This makes following the discussion in class much easier.
Even if you choose a different translation you may want to have the Landmark edition, which many libraries have, on hand for its maps. (Anchor Books, edited by Robert Strassler)
First assignment: Book I, sections 1–106
The following are preceptorials from previous semesters.
Tolstoy, War and Peace
Tutor: Mr. Rahul Chaudhri
Text: The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation strongly preferred.
John of the Cross
Tutor: Mr. Robert Druecker
I abandoned and forgot myself
Laying my face on my beloved;
All things ceased; I went out from myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
John of the Cross attempted to forge a new style of spiritual life. Our aim will be to try to gain some understanding of the experiences (where that word still fits) and of the inner states of soul to which phrases like “forgot myself,” “All things ceased,” and “I went out from myself” are pointing, through exploring the path to them. Our focus will not be on St. John’s theology.
For most of our meetings, we shall read selections from his four major works—The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, and The Living Flame of Love. We shall study the successive stages of the path, through the following “dark nights”—the “active night of sense,” the “passive night of sense,” “active night of the spirit,” and the “passive night of the spirit”— culminating in the soul’s joining with divine love and becoming ablaze with that love.
St. John considered the followers along this way as being of three types—those who are beginning, those who have progressed, and those who have become perfected at its end and have entered union with the divine. The late Bernadette Roberts travelled to the end of San Juan’s path and described her progress through the late stages of the journey. She articulated her experience of the unitive life in six phases. In the last few sessions, we shall study the last three of these phases, as described in her book The Path to No-Self: Life at the Center.
Required texts: John of the Cross, Selected Writings, ed. K. Kavanaugh, in The Classics of Western Spirituality series (New York: Paulist Press, 1987) [available used for $15 and up] AND Bernadette Roberts, The Path to No-Self: Life at the Center, (any edition).
Pedagogy and Education
Tutor: Mr. Nicholas Bellinson
Description: In this preceptorial we will read a wide range of texts on education and pedagogy. Authors will include: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Dewey, Washington, Du Bois, Woolf, Oakeshott, Arendt, Weil, Postman, and MacIntyre. As part of the work of the preceptorial, students will practice co-leading the discussion, either with the tutor or with another student, and receive feedback on this.
Tutor: Mr. Jeffrey Smith
Description: Considered together, Rousseau’s Discourses offer arguably the most powerful critique of the Enlightenment ever conceived. The Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (the First Discourse) calls into question assumptions about the value of culture and forces its readers to take stock of the damage done to virtue, freedom, and justice by the so-called progress of the human mind. The Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality (the Second Discourse) argues that civil society itself is at odds with the “natural goodness of man,” in context of explaining both how the human species developed and why its historical development eventually served to degrade human beings and to make them wicked. Rousseau’s critique of modernity furnishes him with the resources not only to refute prior accounts of the state of nature, but also to raise fundamental questions about Christianity’s teaching regarding original sin and the fall of man.
Text: Students should obtain and use a copy of the Victor Gourevitch translation of the Discourses.
The assignment for the first class of the Rousseau preceptorial will be to read the Title Page and Advertisement, the Preface, and the first nine paragraphs of Part I of Rousseau’s Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (i. e., the First Discourse). In the Gourevitch translation that I have recommended, which provides numbered paragraphs, the assignment covers paragraphs 1–15, the last paragraph ending with the words “… to be precisely the opposite of what they are.”
Shakespeare, Hamlet and The Tempest
Tutor: Mr. Louis Petrich
Description: Many would say Hamlet is the great tragedy. Many would also say The Tempest is as great a comedy. Participants will see and hear for themselves. Two weeks will be spent on Hamlet, and one week on The Tempest. That proportion is determined by length, not by quality of contents. Both plays contain fratricidal politics, frank sexual and marital relations, and strong motives of revenge versus mercy and forgiveness. Much attention is paid in each play to the arts of theatre as means of investigating truth and conscience, and as instigations of action. The Tempest is Shakespeare’s last solo effort, so it is not surprising that he would come to terms in that play with all the darkness and light that previously fought for primacy in his many created worlds, most vividly so in the rotten state of Hamlet’s Denmark.
Virgil, Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid
Tutor: Mr. David Townsend
Texts: Virgil. Loeb Classics. 2 volumes.
Editions with line numbers tracking the Latin are best.
- Tr. Robert Fitzgerald. Vintage. ISBN: 9780679729525
- Tr. Allen Mandelbaum. Bantam. ISBN: 9780553210415
- Tr. Frederick Ahl.. Oxford. ISBN: 9780199231959
“Sunt lacrimae rerum—there are tears here and mortal things touch the heart”
Description: Virgil’s account of the wanderings of Aeneas and his band of refugees charged with founding a new city of unparalleled destiny is perhaps the greatest of all classical epics. It’s itinerary of love and loss, of humanity and brutality, of duty and fame moves readers to a renewed sense of the dimensions and capacity of the human heart. We shall understand better why Dante chose Virgil to lead him through Hell into Purgatory. We will also read Virgil’s other two major works—the ten short bucolic poems of Eclogues and Georgics a 2188 line poem on farming, cultivation, sustainability, and our relationship to nature.
Tutor: Mr. David Townsend
Description: A foundational great, great book exploring poetically and symbolically the deathless ideas of home and love. Can we separate truth from shadow as we follow this man of many wiles? We shall explore the relations of men and women, parents and children, and time and the eternal in encounters with Circe, Athena, Calypso, Aphrodite, Cyclops, Nausica, and a panoply of beasts, men, and gods. How shall we restore our home should we ever find it occupied?
Black American Poets
Tutor: Ms. Joan Silver
Description: Our reading will range from folk poetry to poems by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Audre Lorde, Rita Dove, and Ruth Forman to name a few. Although the list of poets is necessarily long, we will read only a few poems in each preceptorial meeting, to allow ourselves time to pay close attention to the poetry as poetry. Our primary text will be the anthology, The Black Poets, edited by Dudley Randall, supplemented by other poems we bring to the class.
Introduction to Ancient Greek
Tutor: Mr. Robert Goldberg
Description: An introduction to Ancient Greek language using the Mollin and Williamson textbook, An Introduction to Ancient Greek.
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Tutor: Mr. Louis Petrich
Description: Thus Spoke Zarathustra is Nietzsche’s most popular book and the one that he considered his best. It is the work of a lonely man at the height of his powers of expression, with nothing to restrain him but posterity, to which he looked for appreciation. It is a work that combines the sublime and ridiculous, the prophetic and psychological, the philosophic and poetic. It is a book of laughter and gravity. In the end, it is an attempt to provide a transition from Christianity to a new, life-affirming human posture, one that avoids nihilism and pity, and overcomes the lassitude of the “last man” who blinks at the news—delivered by Zarathustra come down from the mountain—that God is dead, and man has killed him.
Tutor: Ms. Sarah Benson
Description: “Computer science touches on a variety of deep issues,” writes Richard Feynman in his Lectures on Computation. “It has illuminated the nature of language, which we thought we understood: early attempts at machine translation failed because the old-fashioned notions about grammar failed to capture all the essentials of language. It naturally encourages us to ask questions about the limits of computability, about what we can and cannot know about the world around us. Computer science people spend a lot of time talking about whether or not man is merely a machine, whether his brain is just a powerful computer that might one day be copied.” We will explore these and other deep issues of computing by considering its elements. Building and programming a simple mechanical computer will be accompanied by readings in Feynman, Leibniz, Lovelace, Boole, Turing, Peirce, and others. No prior knowledge of computing or programming is needed.
- Richard P. Feynman. 1996. Feynman Lectures on Computation. Edited by Tony Hey and Robin W. Allen. Westview Press; paperback edition 2000.
- Manual of readings. (Compiled and printed by St. John’s College, more information to follow.)
- Digi-Comp computer kit. (Supplied on first day of class or by mail; paid for by the college.)
The Old Testament: Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel I and II, Kings I and II, Esther
Tutor: Mr. Louis Petrich
Description: These books follow the history of the Hebrews as they leave Mt. Sinai under Moses, wander the wilderness for forty years, battle their way into the promised land, rule themselves by judges, later by kings, and after 700 years find themselves captive to the Persians and threatened by holocaust.
Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities
Tutor: Mr. Mark Sinnett
Description: In Central Europe, in the years between the World Wars, social scientists were at a loss to account for the political and cultural collapse of their societies. “The only sources of insight,” in the experience of Eric Voegelin, “were the artists: painters, composers and especially novelists and poets.” Among the great names of the period—Thomas Mann, Karl Kraus, Heimito von Doderer, Alfred Schnitzler, Herman Broch—none stands higher than Musil, whose great, unfinished, novel depicts the descent of Austro-Hungarian society into the social and psychological pathology known as “ideology.”
Tutor: Mr. Michael Dink
Description: The full title of Spinoza’s book gives some idea of its scope and ambition: Ethics: Demonstrated in Geometric Order and Divided into Five Parts, which treat I. Of God; II. Of the Nature and Origin of the Mind; III. Of the Origin and Nature of the Affects; IV. Of Human Bondage, or the Power of the Affects; V. Of the Power of the Intellect, or on Human Freedom. Spinoza uses traditional language about God, substance and attribute to radically transform traditional Aristotelian and scholastic metaphysics so as to provide a framework for a new Cartesian science of matter in motion which is meant to be more satisfactory than that which Descartes himself had appeared to provide. He also claims to fully integrate within that account an explanation of the human good and how to attain it. Although Spinoza’s identification of God and Nature and his denial of free will to humans led to the condemnation of his philosophy by most orthodox Christians and Jews, he himself identified the intellectual love of God as the highest form of human freedom and happiness.
T. S. Eliot: “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets”
Tutor: Ms. Pamela Kraus
Description: “The Waste Land” is generally agreed to be one of the most important poems of the 20th century. In the years after its publication, T. S. Eliot continued to dwell on the perils of modern life: about how, in its midst, to live the best life, the life closest to perfect. Almost twenty years after “The Waste Land,” he gave us the poem he regarded as his best work, his culminating work, “Four Quartets.” The preceptorial will study both poems.
Ancient Greek Translation: Plato’s Republic, Book 1
Tutor: Mr. Robert Goldberg
Description: We will translate (and study) Book 1 of the Republic. GI students who have previously completed Introduction to Ancient Greek are welcome to enroll in this preceptorial. Students who have taken spring Greek Translation in the past may enroll in this course for credit provided they did not translate the same text in their previous class.