Great Books for Adults

    Who is this course for?

      This course is designed for three kinds of people: 1) parents of teenagers who are or will be taking Great Books from Schola Classical Tutorials or other online tutorial services and who wish to be able to discuss the books with their children, or parents who wish to teach their children the Great Books on their own; 2) teachers who are or will be teaching the Great Books in a Christian classical school and wish to gain further background and familiarity with them; and 3) any adults who wish simply to read and discuss the Great Books in company with others.

    What does it cover?

      This is a one-year course and is not a duplicate of Schola's regular four-year Great Books course for teenagers. It will survey representative material of that four-year curriculum in one year, allotting one quarter (about 7-8 weeks) to each of the four regular Great Books courses: Greek, Roman, Medieval, and Early Modern (see the list below). In order to do this, we will read and discuss a representative sampling of several works from each of the regular courses (see the complete Great Books reading lists).

    How much work will it require?

      The participants are not required to read the works in their entirety (although they certainly should at some point in their lives!) - indeed, it would be very difficult given the number of books we'll be covering. Instead, there will be short, representative, and important reading selections posted for each book - this will significantly reduce the reading load for busy parents and other adults. To make things financially easier, many of the books need not be purchased (though one wants to own what one reads!): the selections will be available online via links posted on the syllabus page. The pace will not be rushed, though we will cover a lot of material in the year, and the reading load will not be heavy. The course aims to be enjoyable and profitable, not burdensome.

      Summary: 1) you'll do some reading, but not a burdensome amount; 2) you'll come to class, relax, and listen with your coffee cup in hand while I lecture but you are free to ask questions at any time; 3) you'll write a very short informal personal response each week just to help me know where you are in your thoughts. That's all. No tests or papers. :)

    How will it work?

      Given the above, the class will be primarily survey lectures on the time period and on the authors and readings, but questions are welcomed and encouraged at any point. There will be only one kind of assignment besides reading: the participants will be asked to write and post on a class forum board a short, informal, ungraded response paragraph each week to help focus the participants' thoughts and to give the teacher some feedback about what the participants are thinking about and gaining from the classes.

      We will discuss, whenever it is useful, not only the issues and themes raised in the books, but also how these books might be taught, what resources are available for further background and commentary, and other issues that may be useful to those teaching these books, but of course the chief aim of the course is to give to the participants a familiarity with these Great Books.


    Other Necessary information: for meetings times and days, fee, and other information, visit the Online Tutorials page.  For those for whom the schedule is a difficulty, access to the recordings of every class session may be purchased for half the cost of tuition and access to all recordings will be given for downloading and listening.


    THE READING LIST (subject to tinkering):

    First term - Greek:  Selections from Homer's Iliad, Herodotus's History, Plato's Phaedrus, Aristotle's Ethics and Metaphysics
    Second term - Roman:  Selections from Vergil's Aeneid, Livy's History of Rome, Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, Augustine's Confessions
    Third term - Medieval:  Selections from St. Benedict's Rule, Bede's Ecclesiastical History, Einhard's Life of Charlemagne, Asser's Life of King Alfred, Aquinas' Compendium, Dante's Divine Comedy
    Fourth term - Early Modern:  Selections from Spenser's Faerie Queene, Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, Toqueville's Democracy in America, Romantic Era and Victorian poetry; Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov.