Discuss the President’s Favorite Works
January 11, 2017 | By Tim Pratt
To St. John’s College Annapolis President Chris Nelson, some of the writers are heroes.
Their words and deeds still resonate years after their deaths.
For some of the other authors, beautifully written prose or extraordinary storytelling stands out.
On February 11, more than a half dozen works by some of Nelson’s favorite writers and historical figures will be discussed during the Saturday Seminars program on the St. John’s campus in Annapolis. The event, dubbed “A Day of Favorites: Selections by President Christopher B. Nelson,” will honor Nelson’s upcoming retirement after more than 25 years as president.
Nelson says he chose each of the works because they were meaningful to him.
Faculty and participants will discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”—one of Nelson’s favorite books since high school. The group also will discuss several addresses given by Abraham Lincoln, including the Gettysburg Address, The Final Emancipation Proclamation and The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions, delivered to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, on January 27, 1838.
Nelson describes King and Lincoln as “heroes” for the roles they played in United States history.
The seminars also will cover “Apology” by Plato; “The Dead” by James Joyce; and “Death of a Hired Man” by Robert Frost.
Nelson says he considers “The Dead” the “finest short story written in the English language.”
While St. John’s faculty will lead the discussions, Nelson also will lead one on “The Non-Existent Knight” by Italo Calvino. It’s a work Nelson enjoys for its mix of humor and serious topics, like existentialism.
A seminar for younger readers, ages 13 to 18, also is being offered. It will cover “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin.
The event begins with a welcome reception and toast at 1 p.m. The seminars are scheduled to run from 2 to 4 p.m. Registration is required; the cost is $50 per seminar.
Gifts and proceeds from the event will benefit the Christopher B. Nelson Scholarship Endowment Fund at St. John’s.