THOREAU COLLEGE COMMUNITY SEMINAR
The Thoreau College Community Seminar is an ongoing invitation to join in an open, engaging, and egalitarian conversation about important texts and universal ideas. Inspired by the Great Books Seminar model of higher education and Henry David Thoreau’s visionary dream of “villages as universities”, the Community Seminar is open to Thoreau College students, fellows, and faculty and to members of our wider local community of all ages. All that is required is a willingness to read carefully and to engage in thoughtful discussion with respect for fellow participants, a sincere desire to understand the authors and their ideas with openness and good will, and reverence for the truth. Sessions will take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4:30-6:00 pm and new participants are invited to join at the beginning of each quarter, each of which lasts about 10 weeks, with breaks. Recommended donation for adults is $200/quarter. High school students are invited to participate free of charge. The current offerings are listed below.
Fall Quarter (October 5 - December 9) 2021: Origins and Essences
During the fall quarter of 2021, the Thoreau College Community Seminar will delve into the most ancient and profound texts of world civilization. These are the primordial accounts of the origins of the universe, of human beings, and of human cultures and peoples that have been passed down in oral traditions for centuries until eventually recorded in writing, to be passed down for centuries more, forming the foundation stones of the world’s great civilizations and cultures.
Fall Quarter Texts:
- October 5: The Epic of Gilgamesh
- October 7: The Epic of Gilgamesh
- October 12: Hesiod, Theogony
- October 14: Snorri Sturluson, Prose Edda
- October 26: Popol Vuh
- October 28: Popol Vuh
- November 2: The Book of Genesis
- November 4: The Book of Genesis
- November 9: Plato, Timaeus
- November 11: Plato, Timaeus
- November 16: Bhagavad Gita
- November 18: Bhagavad Gita
- November 30: Lucretius, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things)
- December 2: Lucretius, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things)
- Dec 7: Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
- Dec 9: Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
(End of Fall Quarter)
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Winter Quarter (January 4 - March 10, 2022): The Individual
Philosophical and literary explorations of the moral and existential challenges and opportunities faced by individuals in the context of society.
January 4: Sophocles, Antigone
January 6: Sophocles, Antigone
January 11: Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment?
January 13: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
January 19: Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (Excerpts)
January 21: Fyodor Doesteovsky, “The Grand Inquisitor” (from The Brothers Karamazov)
February 1: Martin Buber, I and Thou
February 3: Martin Buber, I and Thou
February 8: Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
February 10: Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
(Thoreau College Road Trip – 2 weeks)
March 1: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
March 3: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
March 8: Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Excerpt)
March 10: Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Excerpt)
(End of Winter Quarter)
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Spring Quarter (March 22 - June 2, 2022): Future Visions of Nature and Humankind
Science and science fiction explorations of bioethics, social organization, and the future development of humanity and nature on Earth from writers of diverse backgrounds and orientations.
Some Possible Texts:
- Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
- Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
- Ayn Rand, Anthem
- Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble
- Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World
- Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
- Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing
- Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist
- Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon
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