Take one seminar in the morning or afternoon, and spend your free time re-reading for the next day’s seminar or exploring the city and mountains of Santa Fe—as well as our beautiful campus. Take two seminars, morning and afternoon, and immerse yourself in an intensive week.
A seminar includes a morning series of classes or an afternoon series of classes in a given week with the exception of the Science Institute which meets both in the morning and in the afternoon. You can choose one (morning or afternoon) or up to two seminars a week, (morning and afternoon). The week begins with registration and a reception on Sunday. Seminars run Monday through Friday.
Machiavelli prefaces the second of his two greatest works, Discourses on Livy, by avowing his own “natural desire” to work for those things he believes “will bring common benefit to everyone.” His seemingly humanitarian aim might, on first glance, seem to be at odds with the more selfish (and, some might say, “wicked”) political teaching set forth in his more famous work, The Prince. The reader of the Discourses might further be surprised that in a book whose title suggests a turning back to old things, in its study of Titus Livy’s History of Rome, Machiavelli also declares boldly that in it he will “take a path as yet untrodden by anyone.” Indeed, this book might lay claim to being his most innovative political work. It is dense, intricate, wise, witty, and even wicked. The seminar makes an attempt to grasp its central themes, which include not only politics, but morality, necessity, religion, chance, and the peculiarly Machiavellian “modes and orders.”
The genre of autobiography was effectively inaugurated by Augustine’s Confessions, a stunning account of the life of an African teacher and leader struggling to find his identity and calling during the turbulent decline of the Roman Empire. Through deeply moving personal narrative, the author investigates the meaning of sensation, childhood, idea, free will, time, the practice of reading, and the very nature of language. As it charts the emerging life of a great soul, this great book challenges its readers to distinguish love from lust, freedom from fate, and truth from appearance. You are cautioned that your relationships to family, friends, children, and parents—as well as your sense of love itself—may be altered as you explore what it means to be a human being in the world.
In The Ambassadors, Henry James posits that an American man who wants to learn about women must travel to Europe. But Mr. Strether, the novel’s protagonist, is on a mission. The woman he intends to marry has sent him to Paris to recover her son from what she believes to be a life of debauchery. Strether’s fascination with European ways opens up possibilities he never before could have imagined. In this highly acclaimed turn-of-the-20th-century novel, James explores the subtlety of human relations while contrasting the refinement of Europe with the upright morality of America.
Flags in the Dust is Faulkner’s first novel in the Yoknapatawpha chronicles. It is directly connected to his later novels, especially The Unvanquished, As I Lay Dying, and Sanctuary. It is in many ways the essential key to the underlying Southern theme of most of his novels. Young Bayard Sartoris returns from World War I to the city of Jefferson unscathed, but his twin brother died in an aerial dogfight. Bayard cannot come to terms with his own survival. This is the South. It cannot come to terms with its survival from the Civil War. Did it survive? Or does it live on in a half-death? Nowhere else in Faulkner’s corpus is the problem revealed so clearly.
A wonderful beach read that will also get one through the long winter nights, Moby-Dick is surely a major contender for the title of Great American Novel of the 19th Century, and together we discuss it 27 chapters at a time, tackling the epilogue on the seminar’s fifth day. As a former whaler himself, Melville writes brilliantly both about what he knows and about what we all don’t know: who we are, where we are, and what we are really doing. There is no other book like it.
This seminar is also offered in the afternoon.
Never has the political thought of Hannah Arendt been more urgently relevant. We begin with three famous essays from her Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), reading first “Perplexities of the Rights of Man,” which brazenly charges the liberal institution of human rights with complicity in the rise of totalitarianism (of which Nazism is an instance), and then “Total Domination” and “Ideology and Terror,” where Arendt categorizes totalitarianism as an entirely new political modality, distinct even from tyranny and characterized by “radical evil.” We close with the ferociously controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), in which Arendt reflects upon the moral and legal enigmas that arise in the attempt to judge a war criminal whose form of evil she would now call, notoriously, “banal.”
Though 17th-century Japanese writer Matsuo Basho was a master of various forms of poetry and refined prose, he is perhaps best known as a haiku (hokku) poet. Journeying on foot was central to his art and to his inner quest, and we begin our seminar week by reading a variety of his travel journals, culminating with The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi). In this, his most well-known travel journal, Basho describes a 1500-mile journey in the northeastern Honshu in a manner that weaves haiku into delicate prose narrative. Throughout, a sensitive depiction of nature commingles with deep insight into the human soul.
This luminous poetic work, The Waves, interweaves the lives of six characters—Bernard, Jinny, Louis, Neville, Rhoda, and Susan—from childhood through maturity, through their own voices and thoughts. As we explore every corner of the resulting literary tapestry, a beautiful pattern emerges in the warp and woof, one of complementary and analogous color. A genre-smashing book that has been listed among the dozen best novels of the 20th century, The Waves may be Woolf’s most accomplished work.
This seminar is also offered in the morning.
The doors between the old man today and the child are still open, wide open. I can stroll through my grandmother’s house and know exactly where the pictures are, the furniture was, how it looked, the voice, the smells. I can move from my bed at night today to my childhood in less than a second.
For decades the name Ingmar Bergman was synonymous with “serious” cinema, and many of us learned what an auteur is by watching his films—intense, probing investigation into souls, exquisitely filmed and brilliantly acted. This week’s films are all moving and uniquely peculiar meditations on childhood, aging, memory, and yearning. In Wild Strawberries (1957), an old professor learns to confront his past and find healing for his scarred relationships; it is a film permeated with regret but ultimately radiant and uplifting. Persona (1966) is a daring, experimental study of the mysteries of personality, featuring two young women (played by Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson) who probe, antagonize, obliterate, and even love one another. This is one of those films that remains as fresh and astonishing as the day it was released. Our third entry is Fanny and Alexander (1982), an epic about a family as seen through the eyes of two children. Bergman’s most lovable film, it has been described as both Dickensian and Proustian.
Learn more about Film at Summer Classics
We begin with the discovery of galaxies beyond the Milky Way and the expansion of the universe through the observational work of Henrietta Leavitt, Edwin Hubble, and others. Using the current framework Einstein’s general relativity gives us, we study the observations and arguments that imply the existence of dark matter and dark energy. Yet what these really are remains completely unknown at present though they comprise about 95% of the universe, compared to the remaining 5% composed of ordinary matter and energy. Though we have not yet discovered this wider universe, we now know it is there.
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