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Summer Classics Seminar - Week III

The 2017 program information posted on this page is an example of the type of seminars offered through St. John's College's Summer Classics program. 2018 Summer Classics seminar offerings will be announced on February 1, 2018. Online registration begins on February 1, 2018.

Choose up to two seminars from the choices below in order to spend the week delving into one or two seminar topics in-depth. 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. The week begins with registration and a reception on Sunday. Seminars run Monday through Friday.

July 17–21, 2017

MORNING 10 A.M. TO NOON

Homer’s Odyssey

EVA BRANN AND PATRICIA GREER

The Ancients thought that The Odyssey was the epic of Homer’s old age, probably because of its acute humanity. The poem might be entitled “Odysseus: His Own Poet” or “Odysseus: One Wife and Many Women” or “Odysseus: The Truth-telling Liar”. We will follow the epics’ events, real and imaginary, its characters, loveable and otherwise, and its plot, action-filled and intricate. Inexhaustible.

Marcel Proust’s Finding Time Again

VICTORIA MORA AND PETER PESIC

The final volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time brings his monumental work to a profound conclusion with Finding Time Again. His themes of love, memory, and loss reverberate in the aftermath of the Great War; his characters are unforgettable; his writing is transcendent. This seminar is intended to complete our previous summer seminars with the last volume in this multi-volume series, and accordingly offers first choice to its participants; others are welcome, if space allows, but they are expected to have read the previous volumes on their own so that they could participate fully in discussions that will doubtless reach to those works.

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Winter’s Tale

NATALIE ELLIOT AND WALTER STERLING

A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale form a natural pair. Aside from being seasonal counterpoints, the two reflect upon each other in a number of significant ways. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an early play, set in Athens, and conforms to the structure of classical comedy. The Winter’s Tale, on the other hand, is a late play, set in Christian Europe, and its comic resolution is altered by Shakespeare’s innovations in the form. Together, they invite us to consider how Shakespeare understands comedy against the backdrop of the classical and Christian worlds, illustrate how his comic vision might evolve over the course of his career, and give us a glimpse into his philosophical understanding of comedy. We will read the plays in sequence, spending the first two days on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the last three days on The Winter’s Tale. We will consider each play on its own terms, and use the two together to develop a broader view of Shakespeare’s comic vision.

Jane Austen’s Persuasion

RON HAFLIDSON AND KRISHNAN VENKATESH

Published six months after her death, Persuasion was Jane Austen’s last completed novel and arguably her most mature work. Its heroine, Anne Elliot, first meets Captain Frederic Wentworth when she is 19, only to decide finally he is not the right match. Eight years later, circumstances align so that Elliot and Wentworth’s romance is given a second chance. This seemingly clichéd marriage-plot, in Austen’s hands, will offer seminar participants a singular opportunity to explore the nature of our humanity, which she never fails to illumine and tease.

An Introduction to Carl Jung’s Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

JOHN CORNELL AND TOPI HEIKKERÖ

Two Essays on Analytical Psychology is widely considered the best place to begin a study of Jungian theory, for it treats the full range of Jung’s characteristic ideas — the Collective Unconscious, Archetypes, Anima and Animus, and the Mana Personality. Yet experienced students of Jung find themselves returning to this text too, because of its theoretical depth and synoptic understanding of the psyche. In addition, for all its theoretical seriousness, the Two Essays represent a practical course. Readers will draw inspiration here for their own work of individuation and of integration of the Unconscious with the Conscious Mind.

Mark Twain: What is an American?

MICHAEL BYBEE AND MICHAEL GRENKE

What distinguishes “real” Americans from wanna-be-Europeans who happen to live in North America? When American authors, and philosophers, and historians and attorneys stop aping European values and start thinking independently, what do they identify as characteristically American virtues? Can Mark Twain explain to us why the values that Europeans typically thought of as virtues are really mortal vices? This seminar will examine Mark Twain’s work Life on the Mississippi and Huckleberry Finn to tackle these questions.

AFTERNOON 2 TO 4 P.M.

“In the Beginning”: Reading Genesis

RON HAFLIDSON AND ZENA HITZ

The stories of Genesis are known to us from such diverse sources as Broadway musicals, Hollywood blockbusters, and our various religious traditions. This seminar offers a rare opportunity to explore Genesis from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, without any unexamined doctrinal, historical, or scientific presuppositions. We will raise and discuss questions about the origins of life, the universe, the family, and human community, with an eye to what these stories teach us about our common humanity.

FILM AT SUMMER CLASSICS
The Western: The Cowboy and His Role in Shaping the American Vision Through Cinema
“The Last Stand”

DAVID CARL AND DAVID MCDONALD

In the segment titled “The Last Stand,” we will study the development of the cowboy movie during the last decades of the 20th century into the early years of the 21st century. As the Western movie genre keeps pace with changes in American culture, filmmaking itself changes, and the social and cultural themes of these movies reflect a range of social and ethical concerns through the development of new cinematic styles. From Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (featuring and with a soundtrack by Bob Dylan) to Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the Western changes along with American society itself, and the cowboy remains a reflection of our own problematic sense of national and personal self-identity.

Learn more about Film at Summer Classics

MORNING AND AFTERNOON
10 A.M. TO NOON AND 2 TO 4 P.M.

THE SCIENCE INSTITUTE
In Defense of Flora: An Exploration of the Hidden World of Plants

GREG SCHNEIDER AND LINDA WIENER

This class will combine reading and discussion of botanist Francis Halle’s book In Praise of Plants with fieldwork involving plant identification, observation, and a short research project. Halle devotes his work to dispelling our prejudices in favor of the animal kingdom, highlighting the uniqueness of plants, and teaching us how to look at the world from a plant perspective. A book that can change your whole view of nature, his topics range from the differences between plants and animals to more philosophical questions involving the ways plants manipulate animals and whether plants can be considered persons. Essential to these sessions will be our own investigations of the plant world around the college; one session each day will be held outdoors.

Learn more about the Science Institute