Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series

2020–21 Academic Year Lectures

Lectures will be held virtually through 2020–21. They are free and available to the public and are followed by a question-and-answer period.

Information about access will be posted closer to the lecture date.

Recordings and transcripts of lectures are available on the SJC Digital Archives site. Access any of the Fall 2020 lectures on YouTube.

Please stay tuned for additional lectures for the Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series for the Spring 2021 semester.

2021 Spring Semester

Lecture Schedule for 2021 Spring Semester
Date Speaker/Event Topic
Friday
January 22, 2021
4:30 p.m. MT
Joseph C. Macfarland
St. John’s College, Annapolis
“Our Polity”
A lecture on the character of the college and on what unites and distinguishes St. John’s as a community dedicated to liberal education.
Friday
January 29
4:30 p.m. MT
Nicolas de Warren
Penn State University

This lecture is part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Series on Literature.
“Atrocity Exhibition: Satan and Redemption in The Brothers Karamazov
Watch the January 29 lecture live via Zoom

Although Dostoevsky struggled with the problem of evil and forgiveness in many of his writings, my aim in this lecture is a discussion of evil and forgiveness in The Brothers Karamazov. Given the expansiveness of this novel, I shall focus on Ivan Karamazov, whose narrative of suffering and despair culminates in the denouement of his departure from the tribunal of reason and justice “crying something incoherent.” As with other characters in Dostoevsky’s novel, Ivan cannot be fathomed in isolation, and I shall be especially concerned with the conjunction of two “doublings”—Smerdyakov and the Satan—as clues for grasping the philosophical significance of Ivan’s crystallization of evil. I shall propose that Ivan Karamazov exemplifies what I call the spectral figure of an eclipsed subjectivity of evil. Within this Jankélévitchean-Schellingean configuration of evil (to indicate this conception’s philosophical genealogy), “the mystery of irreducible and inconceivable wickedness is, at the same time, stronger and weaker, weaker and stronger than love”—an implication I shall only be able to touch upon at the end of my discussion. In these reflections, I am presenting elements for a more comprehensive engagement with forgiveness and the unforgivable, animated by what André Malraux identifies in his “anti-memoires” Lazarus as the search for that crucial region in the soul where fraternity hangs in the balance / stands in conflict with absolute evil (je cherche la région cruciale de l'âme où le Mal absolu s'oppose à la fraternité).
Friday
February 19
4:30 p.m. MT
John Cornell
This lecture is part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Series on Literature.
“Dante, Philosopher-Prophet: A Reading of Paradiso V–VII”
Please stay tuned for Zoom Link.

Cantos V, VI, and VII in Dante’s Paradiso touch on central themes of medieval Catholic orthodoxy. But is this last canticle of the Divine Comedy just Dante’s staging of Church doctrine? A lot depends on who we think Beatrice (Dante’s guide in Paradise) is. Is she simply the romantic crush of the poet’s youth? Or is she a mature figure of Wisdom, like Sapientia, the eternal companion of God in the biblical books attributed to Solomon? Some of the comedy of the Comedy may be related to the fact that hardly anyone suspects Dante’s girlfriend of holding very independent views, let alone radical ideas about Church politics and theology. This talk will challenge that assumption and listen to what Dante and Beatrice are discussing over the heads of the saints and theologians.
Friday
March 12
4:30 p.m. MT
Daryl Haggard
McGill University
“Observing Black Holes Large and Small”
Please stay tuned for Zoom Link.

It’s been a fantastic decade for black hole studies, highlighted by the 2017 and 2020 Nobel Prizes in Physics. Multiple Galactic Center research groups, the Event Horizon Telescope, and LIGO/Virgo continue to bring rapid new observations to sharpen our understanding of these exotic objects. I will discuss the unique variability of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, alongside other time domain phenomena in the Galactic Center, traced out over more than 20 years of observations from coordinated multi-wavelength campaigns. I will also briefly explore how we can continue to push the frontiers of black hole research with existing and next-generation observatories.

Daryl Haggard is an Associate Professor of Physics at McGill University in the McGill Space Institute and holds a Canada Research Chair in Multi-messenger Astrophysics. She and her team study the Galactic Center and Sgr A*, electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources, accreting compact objects, and supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, using multi-wavelength and time domain surveys. She is also a proud alumna of St. John’s College Santa Fe where she earned her BA in 1995.
Friday
April 2
4:30 p.m. MT
Richard McCombs,
St. John’s College, Santa Fe

This lecture is part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Series on Literature.
“George Eliot’s Modern St. Theresa”
Please stay tuned for Zoom Link.

One of the main themes of George Eliot’s Middlemarch is the kind of love that desire to help other people. Eliot describes her heroine, Dorothea, as “haunted” by “the idea of some active good within her reach.” This lecture examines how Dorothea’s desire for the good is purified, how she learns the art of helping, and how she uses this art. The second half of the lecture focuses on chapters 76 and 81 of Middlemarch, in which Dorothea attempts to “save” Charles and Rosamond Lydgate, who are in danger of being overwhlemed by severe trials.