St. John’s College Annapolis Announces Spring Formal Lecture Series

Lectures and concerts are free and open to the public

ANNAPOLIS, MD [January 11, 2023] — St. John’s College has announced its spring formal lecture series. On Friday evenings, members of the St. John’s College community head to the Great Hall or auditorium to hear a lecture or concert from visiting scholars, artists, poets, or faculty. Lecturers include members of the St. John’s College faculty, and professors from notable universities across the country. Each lecture is followed by an engaging discussion between the lecturer and attendees.

“I encourage members of the Annapolis community to visit St. John’s and experience these first-class lectures, concerts, and theatrical productions,” says President Nora Demleitner. “On March 24, we will hold our inaugural President’s Law and Society Lecture, featuring distinguished Yale legal scholar Robert Post.”

All lectures and concerts begin at 8 p.m. ET on Friday evenings at St. John’s College, 60 College Avenue, Annapolis, Md., 21401. They are free and open to the public. Seating available on a first come, first served basis. Series events scheduled in January and February will be held in McDowell Hall. Beginning March 24, they will be held in Mellon Hall’s Francis Scott Key Auditorium.

“While classes at St. John’s generally proceed through discussion among students, the lectures provide an opportunity for students, faculty, and members of the community to hear an extended account from someone with considerable learning” says dean of the college Joe Macfarland. “The question period is an essential part of the event, where conversation can open up between the lecturer and entire community.”

The 2023 lectures are:

  • January 13, Carl “Tripp” Young, assistant professor of classics at Hillsdale College, will present “The Dread Head of Gorgias: Agathon’s Speech in Plato’s Symposium.”

    In the Symposium, Plato staged a contest in which the philosopher, Socrates, competes with the poets, Aristophanes and Agathon, concerning their respective claims to wisdom. However, the medium through which they all compete is logoi (speeches), or more specifically, a kind of epideictic speech, the encomium. In other words, rhetoric is the medium through which philosophy and poetry compete for the prize of wisdom. This talk will focus on the contest between Agathon and Socrates because, Young will argue, Agathon represents the most significant danger to Athenian society and is the clearest threat to Socrates’ claim to wisdom.

  • January 27, the Parker Quartet will perform Beethoven, String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95, Ligeti, Quartet No. 2 and Beethoven, Quartet in C# minor, Op. 131.

    Inspired performances and exceptional musicianship are hallmarks of the Boston-based, Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet, having appeared at the world’s most illustrious venues since its founding in 2002. The members of the Parker Quartet serve as Professors of the Practice and Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music.

  • February 10, Mark Jordan, Richard Reinhard Niebuhr Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, will present “Memory-Book: Prologues to the Summa of Theology.”

    Re-reading Thomas Aquinas’s prologues to the stages of the Summa, Jordan will describe asceticism of memory as one practice for learning Christian theology in its wholeness. He will then ask what that practice could mean for contemporary readers who approach pieces of the Summa with quite different memories of Christian contradictions — or none at all.

  • February 17, Jacob Howland of the University of Austin Texas will present on Plato’s dialogues.
  • February 24, St. John’s College Annapolis faculty member Leah Lasell will deliver the National Endowment for the Humanities Lecture on Galileo.
  • March 24, President’s Law and Society Lecture. Robert Post, Sterling Professor of Law and former dean at Yale Law School, will present a special lecture as part of President Nora Demleitner’s inauguration weekend.
  • March 31, St. John’s College Annapolis faculty member Matt Caswell will lecture on space in Kant and in Plato’s Timaeus.
  • April 7, Mary Domski, professor of philosophy at the University of New Mexico, will present “Reading Newton, Reading Rule 3: How Gravity gets Universalized in the Principia.”

    Domski will present a new and unexplored reading of Newton’s Third Rule for the Study of Natural Philosophy, according to which the rule expresses two sufficient (but not necessary) conditions for establishing that a quality of bodies belongs to all bodies universally. She will also show how this reading illuminates the way that Newton uses empirical, “experimental” evidence to establish that gravity is a universal quality of bodies.

  • April 14, Oracle Hysterical with Majel Connery will perform a concert.

    Part band, part book club, Oracle Hysterical is Elliot Cole, Majel Connery, Dylan Greene, and twin brothers Doug and Brad Balliett. Oracle’s works occupy the fluid space between classically-inclined song-cycle and art-rock concept album, with literary sources ranging from Grimms’ Fairy Tales to Greek tragedy.

  • April 21, St. John’s College Annapolis faculty member Matt Linck will present a lecture “On Form.”
  • April 28, the King William Players, St. John’s College’s student theater troupe, will perform a theatrical production.

Visit Formal Lecture Series on the Annapolis Campus for more information. To learn about other events at St. John’s College, see the Events Calendar.

About St. John’s College

St. John’s College is one of the most distinctive colleges in the country due to its all-required Great Books curriculum. At St. John’s, undergraduate and graduate students read more than 200 of the most important books across dozens of subjects and discuss those books with faculty in small, seminar-style classes. Located on two campuses in two historic state capitals—Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico—St. John’s is the third oldest college in the United States and has been hailed as the “most contrarian college in America” by The New York Times, the “most rigorous college in America” by Forbes, and the “most forward-thinking, future-proof college in America” by Quartz. Learn more at

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