St. John’s College Santa Fe Announces Spring Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series

Lectures and concerts are free and open to the public

Santa Fe, NM [January 17, 2023] — St. John’s College has announced its Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series. Usually 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.

“We are proud to bring world-class thought-leaders and major musicians to Santa Fe,” said St. John’s College President Mark Roosevelt. “I welcome all members of the community to join us on campus for this spring’s lectures and performance.”

All lectures and concerts are held at St. John’s College, Great Hall, 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe, NM 87505. They are free and open to the public. Seating available on a first come, first served basis.

“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 J. Walter Sterling. “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:

  • Friday, January 20, 7 p.m., the Frisson Ensemble will perform.

    From New York City, Frisson features the best and brightest of classical music’s rising stars as well as established artists. Frisson showcases a myriad of rarely performed masterworks and new music, and the group expands and contracts into a variety of ensembles, including quintets, sextets, nonets, and a small chamber orchestra. The ensemble performs in over 25 cities annually including appearances in such diverse venues as the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, for the Da Camera Society in Los Angeles and at the Bermuda Festival. The group’s name is taken from the French word Frisson which means “a sudden burst of excitement” or “a shiver and a thrill.”

  • Friday, January 27, 7 p.m., St. John’s College faculty member and musician-in-residence Peter Pesic will deliver his lecture “Understanding, understanding.”

    What does it take to understand something, especially something you feel you can’t understand? Is it possible to really understand something (or someone) yet still not agree with them? This lecture tries to take a tiny step toward these questions.

  • Friday, February 3, 7 p.m., Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard University, will present “Sounding Alarm (circa 1850).”

    The nineteenth century was a time of progress but also of crisis – and the study of musical sound was no exception. While around 1800 a sense prevailed that scientists like E.F.F. Chladni and Thomas Young had lifted the secret of sound, this was just the calm before the storm. The presentation of the mechanical siren in 1819 sounded an alarm—literally and metaphorically: the new mechanism threatened to overturn the foundations of the old theories and threw the study of sound into a profound crisis. But this crisis was also a time of great creativity: figures like F. Opelt and J.-G. Kastner came up with innovative approaches that turned the study of music and sound in new and unexpected directions. The important scientist H. v. Helmholtz managed to put a damper on this crisis in the 1860s with some wise and conciliatory pronouncements, but the benefits for music remained and continued to be developed – in compositions by Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, and far beyond.

  • Friday, February 24, 7 p.m., P. Adams Sitney, Princeton University, will deliver “Dante in Italian Cinema” as part of the Carol J. Worrell annual lecture series on literature.

    Just as all English speakers casually refer to lines by Shakespeare, all Italians quote Dante. Film viewers must pay particular attention to these citations and similar scene structures. Examples will be given of Ugolino’s presence in La dolce vita and Ulysses in Il deserto rosso.

  • Friday, March 3, 7 p.m., St. John’s College Annapolis Dean Joseph Macfarland will present “Moments in the Liberal Education of Frederick Douglass from ‘My Bondage and My Freedom.’”
  • Friday, March 31, 7 p.m., Maurizio Viroli, professor of government at the University of Texas (Austin), professor of political communication at the University of Italian Switzerland (Lugano), and professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, will present “Machiavelli: A Good Teacher of Goodness” as part of the Steiner Memorial lecture series.

    Against current scholarly trends that maintain that Niccolò Machiavelli was an evil man and a teacher of evil, I claim that he was a good man and a teacher of good. I also claim that his goodness was the foundation of his republican political vision.

  • Friday, April 7, 7 p.m., St. John’s College faculty member Ahmed Siddiqi will present “To Be Forever and Immortal: Struggle and Salvation in the Thought of al-Farabi.”
  • Friday, April 14, 7 p.m., St. John’s College faculty member Phil LeCuyer will present “The Concept of Truth in the Book of Genesis” as part of the Carol J. Worrell annual lecture series on literature.
  • Friday, April 21, 7 p.m., Stephanie Jamison, University of California Los Angeles, will present as part of the annual Rohrbach Lecture Series on Eastern Classics.
  • Friday, April 28 7 p.m., Claudia Brodsky, Princeton University, will present as part of the Carol J. Worrell annual lecture series on literature.
  • Wednesday, May 3, 3:15 p.m., St. John’s College faculty member Frank Hunt will present “A Clearing in the Forest: Heidegger’s Thinking.”

    The lecture uses Heidegger’s 1966 “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” in an attempt to elucidate his assertion in the final section of “The Question Concerning Technology” that the essence of technology “harbors in itself the saving power.”

  • Friday, May 5, 7 p.m., Carissa Harris, Temple University, will present “White Feminist Wife of Bath?: Feminism, Race, and Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue” as part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Lecture Series on Literature.

    Geoffrey Chaucer’s fun, outspoken, larger-than-life Wife of Bath is often celebrated as a medieval example of a feminist literary character. But if she is a feminist, what kind of feminist is she? This lecture examines gender, race, and economics in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue through the specific lens of white feminism, which enables us to see her character in a new light.

Visit Dean’s Lecture Series on the Santa Fe 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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