About Summer Classics

What is a Summer Classics seminar?

Summer Classics seminars are intensive, discussion-based classes that meet Monday through Friday for two hours daily. Seminars are small, with no more than 18 in-person participants or 12 online participants. Two St. John’s tutors co-lead the seminar, which not only enriches the conversation but encourages diverse approaches to discourse and consideration for a variety of viewpoints.

How does the seminar function?

Spend a week of your summer among fellow lovers of intellectual inquiry examining great works inspired by the ideals and curriculum of the St. John’s College program, which advances that the “books are the most important teachers.”

Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report place St. John’s College in America’s top ten institutions of higher learning for best classroom experience and best teaching, and Summer Classics seminars are led by our faculty, referred to as tutors. Using the St. John’s signature approach to small-group discussion, these tutors guide participants on a voyage of shared discovery. Although each seminar begins with a question, the journey doesn’t always lead to definitive answers. Sometimes our conversation uncovers as many new mysteries as it reveals hidden treasures.

While prior knowledge of any particular topic is by no means necessary, a passion for open-minded discourse is. Tutors and participants alike are united not only in the strength of their commitment to the studied texts but in the sincerity of their consideration for each other’s points of view. Your classmates bring with them a wealth of diverse perspectives—regional, cultural, avocational, and generational—and, in return, every seminar creates space for all voices to be heard and respected. Perhaps that’s why one 2020 attendee describes Summer Classics as “an antidote to the sound bite and a refreshing reminder that differing opinions can be expressed with civility and respect,” and another urges you to “share the exploration, the quest, with inquisitive and thoughtful companions.”

How do I choose a seminar?

Review the seminar catalog; the schedule features four different weeks and a variety of class meeting times.

Consider which author or book you’d like to have as a companion for a weeklong session this summer.

Registration opens mid-winter, but enrollment remains open until all spots are filled. Our small classes fill up quickly, so please consider reserving early and devoting spring and early summer to reading (and re-reading) your chosen text. Each class is billed separately. Select one class for a vacation experience or several for an immersive intellectual retreat.

What Participants Are Saying About Summer Classics

“Coming out of a summer classics seminar is like having taken a daily mental shower.”

“It was a refreshing deep dive into philosophical discussion and debate with similarly curious lifelong learners of all ages.”

“Wonderful opportunity to explore the human condition and life’s big mysteries via the great books. Equally appropriate for someone reading them for the first time or revisiting a favorite from their past.”

“The Summer Classic experience is a wonderful combination of deep learning about a text and a social gathering of serious learners. The online format dampens the social aspect but does allow most of the deep learning experience.”

“Summer Classics is in intellectually invigorating kaleidoscope affording you time to slow down to enjoy a prism of ideas that emerge from a discourse with an author, a text, and other likeminded individuals from all over the world.”

“The format is very conducive to substantive discussion. There is nothing as wonderful as reading something substantial and the discovery that comes from discussing it with thoughtful people, with the group pushed and challenged by our tutors to go deep.”