I can’t remember exactly when I first heard of St. John’s, but I think it was when I read Robert Hagstrom’s Investing: The Last Liberal Art in early 2018. In the chapter on literature, he references both the Great Books Program at St. John’s and How to Read a Book
I came back to the St. John’s list when I started the solo great books project, and started to get to know the wider community around the books — tutors at the college, former students, other professors around the world, and a remarkable number of people who aren’t enrolled, but who care a lot about the books and about liberal arts more generally. (Ed. note — I’m interviewing Agnes Callard this weekend!)
Somewhere in these conversations, somebody asked me why I didn’t just enroll in the St. John’s graduate program, and I had no good answer. There doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the undergrad and graduate experience, in that grad students also spend their time around a small table discussing the books. I’ve been cohosting the discussion series with David McDougall on Zoom, which has been rewarding. Wouldn’t it be good, I thought, to do more of that?
More than just having enjoyable conversations though, I’m curious to get to know more people who would willingly set out to read a few dozen classic books of their own volition. Undergrad education is one thing, in that it’s difficult to decide what you want out of life at the age of 18. I have no reason, though, to go to grad school. I don’t mean that in the sense that simply enjoying the books isn’t a good enough reason (it is!) — only that I have no (current) plans to go into academia and my work at Lambda doesn’t require me to get any more education.
All this to say — I was accepted to St. John’s College for a Masters in Liberal Arts this past week! I’m still figuring things out, but for right now, it’s part-time remote. If you graduated from the GI, I’d love to ask you a few questions: click here to shoot me an email.