St. John’s College Graduate Institute Announces Summer Lecture Series 

Lectures, offered in person in Santa Fe and Annapolis and live-streamed, are free and open to the public.

[June 8, 2023] — The St. John’s College Graduate Institute has announced its summer lecture series. On Wednesdays throughout the summer, the college offers presentations by visiting scholars from notable universities across the country and members of the St. John’s College faculty. Lectures will be held in person on the college’s campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. They are free and open to the public; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each lecture will also be live-streamed on Zoom.

GI summer lecture series speaker Dr. Jackie Murray 

“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 Ned Walpin, Associate Dean for the Graduate Programs in Santa Fe.

“The Graduate Institute is proud to offer this series of lectures free to our students, alumni and friends,” says Brendan Boyle, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in Annapolis. “Because the lectures are offered both in-person and online, we hope to welcome members of the community both near and far to watch and ponder timeless questions about great texts.”

The full schedule can be viewed at All-College Online Graduate Institute Summer Lecture Series. To learn about other events at St. John’s College, see the Events Calendar.

The St. John’s College Graduate Institute offers Master of Arts degrees in the liberal arts and in Eastern Classics. Courses may be completed over the summer or during convenient evening hours in the fall and spring. Applications are currently being accepted for the fall term of 2023 and spring 2024. For more details and to apply, visit

The lectures on the Santa Fe campus will be held at St. John’s College, Junior Common Room, 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87505, at 4:15 p.m. MT. The Santa Fe lectures are:

June 14 and July 12, 4:15 p.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET), St. John’s College Santa Fe faculty member Grant Franks will present “Second Thoughts about Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

As You Like It is a much-loved fixture in the Shakespearean canon, generally staged as a joyous woodland rom-com. However, if one dares to look a little more closely, doubts begin to surface. The seeming frivolity of action is dogged by questions. Why does a light comedy include patches of morose darkness like those in Jaques’s much-acclaimed “Seven Ages of Man” speech? Is Touchstone really a “touchstone” in any genuine sense, or is his suggestive name just meaningless fluff? In the romantic Forest of Arden, populated by shepherds speaking blank verse, why do Rosalind and Orlando conduct their offbeat courtship entirely in prose? Most importantly, why is the major plot tension of Act I – namely, the murderous sibling rivalries of Orlando and Olivier and of the two dukes – virtually ignored during the middle of the play and then casually, almost carelessly, disappeared in Act V? This lecture will not explain everything, but it aims to outline some interesting ways to puzzle over As You Like It.

This lecture will be presented in person on two dates. Only the June 14 lecture will be live-streamed.

Livestream link to watch the whole lecture. Passcode: 425880

June 28 and July 26, 4:15 p.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET) St. John’s College Santa Fe faculty member Patricia Greer will present “Snakes in the Mahābhārata.

“When all this was without light and unillumined, and on all its sides covered by darkness, there arose one large Egg, the inexhaustible seed of all creatures. They say that this was the great divine cause, in the beginning of the Eon...” So begins the bard who will recite the entire Mahābhārata as he himself heard it recited at a twelve-year Snake Sacrifice in which black-garbed brahmins chanted hymns to lure all snakes into the flames of their sacrificial fire. Thus the world’s longest poem starts with the enigma of a great egg that lies below the cosmic waters in the kingdom of divine/demonic oviparous Snakes. This talk is about those snakes and their role in the Mahābhārata.

This lecture will be presented in person on two dates. Only the June 28 lecture will be live-streamed.

Livestream link to watch the whole lecture. Passcode: 961036

July 19, 4:15 p.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET) St. John’s College Santa Fe faculty member James Carey will present “Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the Existence of God.”

Anselm’s argument for the existence of God occupies only a paragraph of the Proslogion. In spite of its brevity, it has proven to be the most intensely contested argument in the history of theology. The argument continues to provoke intelligent defense and intelligent criticism, and to annoy, perplex, and astonish (not infrequently in that order). In my talk, I shall look closely at the logical structure of the argument and its presuppositions. I shall then consider objections that have been raised against the argument, especially those of Kant and Thomas Aquinas, its most perceptive critics. No prior familiarity with Anselm, Kant, or Thomas Aquinas will be presupposed.

Livestream link to watch the whole lecture. Passcode: 192774

The lectures on the Annapolis campus will be held at St. John’s College, McDowell Hall, 60 College Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401., at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Annapolis lectures are:

June 21, 7:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. MT) Sherman Clark, Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, will present “The Best of the Achaeans? Patroclus, in the Iliad.”

When scholars talk about Patroclus, they usually focus on his relationship with Achilles. But Patroclus is more than a sidekick and source of motivation. In fact, he is often called “the best of the Achaeans.” But what could that possibly mean? Patroclus is not the strongest, richest, or most powerful—those being common components of Homeric excellence. So, in what sense is he the best? In this lecture we will take a good look at Patroclus; and we will give him a good listen. And this, I hope, may help us think about what it might mean to be the best, even when you are not the strongest, richest, or most powerful—even in a world where those things can seem to matter most.

Livestream link to watch the whole lecture. Passcode: 077325

July 5, 7:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. MT), Jackie Murray, Associate Professor of Classics at the State University at Buffalo, will present “Slavery, Racism, and Racecraft in Plato’s Republic.”

Although this topic has received very little attention in Platonic scholarship, Plato develops an interesting and complex account of the relationship between, racism, slavery, and racecraft. One reason this topic has been neglected is that most scholarship on the Republic assumes that the just state in the dialogue, i.e., ‘the beautiful city’ includes slavery. I begin by challenging this widely held view. Despite the popularity of this interpretation, there is little to recommend it. Rather, like the first just state Socrates proposes, the city of pigs, there is strong reason to think there is no slavery within the beautiful city. Indeed, as Plato emphasizes in the text, among the very first signs that the beautiful city has devolved from a just state, is that when it becomes a timocracy mass slavery of the artisan classes (the bronze and iron races) is introduced for the first time. Beyond exploring why slavery is introduced as soon as the beautiful city devolves, we will also discuss Plato’s account of the tyrannical man, who is notoriously enslaved by his own appetites. By reading Socrates’s account of psychological slavery, together with his account of the genesis of slavery within political communities, I hope to elucidate important aspects of both Plato’s political and psychological theories. I will also give particular attention to the implications of Plato’s discussion of slavery for his conception of rulership. Moreover, I argue that Plato’s account of the origins of slavery, as he develops it in the Republic, also makes an important and interesting addition to our understanding of Ancient Greek attitudes about slavery, complicating the widely held view that the Ancient Greeks found it difficult even to imagine a world without slavery.

Livestream link to watch the whole lecture. Passcode: 837897 

July 12, 7:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. MT) Peter Danchin, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Jacob A. France Professor of Law, and Director of the International and Comparative Law Program at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, will present “Who is the ‘Human’ in Human Rights? The Claims of Culture and Religion.”

Modern critiques of human rights law force us to confront two conceptual puzzles in the area of the claims of culture and religion. The first concerns the twin concepts, often run together, of the secular and freedom, and the question of how rights - e.g., the right to freedom of conscience and religion - mediate between these purportedly universal or objective positions and the imagined subjective claims of particular religious or cultural norms. The second concerns the question of what we mean by “human equality” and how this idea relates to deeply-situated issues of collective identity and culture. Such claims raise complex and difficult conflicts between equality norms on the one hand, and religious and cultural freedom norms on the other. In this lecture, it is argued that a value pluralist approach to such questions opens the possibility of less dogmatic and binary accounts of reason and religion in viewing both as human institutions and social practices requiring modes of justification and accountability. In order for this to occur, however, the primary obstacle is the inability of Western rights theorists to see their culture as one amongst others.

Livestream link to watch the whole lecture. Passcode: 920436


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