Available courses

Charles Ryder, a young aspiring painter, attends Oxford and meets Sebastian Flyte, the second son of an aristocratic Catholic family, and becomes inextricably entwined in that family’s struggles with cross-currents of tradition, change, hope, and sin—that is, with the human condition common to all—and spies along the way paths to beauty and truth that can lead to redemption. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is one of the most venerated novels of the 20 th century yet one requiring deep-mining knowledge and sympathy to understand aright. Together we will read the story, discuss the background, delineate the characters, relish the scenes, taste the language, and piece out possible meanings for souls, both lost and found.

This course will address the question "What is classical education?" We will discuss what education itself consists of, how classical education differs from other, modern definitions of education, how classical education fits in to the history of education, the relevance of classical education to STEM education, and the relationship of classical education to religious belief. This course is generally similar to the course of the same title from summer of 2020, but will use slightly different readings and will vary slightly in its coverage.

This course will offer an overview of teaching through the reading of classic texts on how best to teach and learn. It will cover the three modes of teaching, their origins in Aristotle's rhetoric and their modern manifestation in Mortimer Adler's "Three Columns." The student will also learn the best method of approach to the teaching of certain specific subjects such as the basic skills of reading, mathematics, and penmanship; classical languages; the trivium subjects of grammar, logic, and rhetoric; as well as the proper teaching of the humanities and the natural sciences. Participants will also gain a basic knowledge of important modern pedagogical debates, with an emphasis on the debate between traditional education and modern progressivism. 

In this short course we will learn some of the practical studying and writing skills that will help you to get the most out of your courses with Memoria College.  We will discuss methods of reading, taking notes, and annotating great texts.  We will practice strategies for fruitful conversations both in class and in our online discussion forums.  Most importantly, however, we will reflect on the kinds of mindset and character that produce a flourishing intellectual life.

In this short course, we will overview what you can expect from the Great Books curriculum established by Mortimer Adler that you will use at Memoria College.  We will discuss the ideas of a "Great Tradition" or a "Great Conversation," and critically examine how these approaches to classical material might interact with a purely Christian education.  We will also examine Adler's division and selection of texts and his enumeration of "Great Ideas" or themes that we will trace throughout these texts.  Finally, we will discuss ways that you may profitably supplement Adler's canon and follow up texts or authors that you find of particular interest.

G. K. Chesterton is one of the most important and influential writers of the twentieth century. A major influence on C. S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity, and on the development of Tolkien's understanding of the imaginative process, Chesterton continues to inspire new generations of readers. In this five-week seminar, Joseph Pearce, author of Wisdom & Innocence: A Life of G. K. Chesterton, will lead us through some of Chesterton's most important works, discussing the ideas that animate them. 

J. R. R. Tolkien, one of the best-loved and bestselling authors of all time, might need no introduction as the author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but the faith and philosophy that animates his works and motivates his characters is less well-known. In this five-week seminar, Joseph Pearce, author of three books on Tolkien and his works, will introduce Tolkien in this deeper sense. After taking this course, students will learn to see The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on a much deeper and more satisfying level of comprehension.

Dr. Vigen Guroian has served as Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, Professor of Theology at Loyola College, Baltimore, Maryland, and has also served on the faculty of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Seminary in Baltimore. He is the author of Rallying the Really Human ThingsTending the Heart of Virtue, and Incarnate Love. In this five-week seminar, students will read and discuss five of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories.

Joseph Pearce offers a five-week seminar on some of the greatest and most influential poetry ever written. It will include in-depth line-by-line expositions of two "difficult" poems, one by Hopkins and the other by T. S. Eliot, as well as surveys of some of the most significant Romantic poetry and war poetry. The poets studied will include Hopkins, Eliot, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Chesterton, Owen and Sassoon.

What is the point of a poem? And what happens when ideas and images meet with time and place in the mind of a poet? Is this moment of value only to the poet as a private possession? Or are those times and places themselves enhanced by becoming springboards for works of art? In this course we will make a sojourn into Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot’s cycle of poems completed during World War II and well after his conversion to Christianity, not only to discover how the poems came to be composed but, more largely, to explore the confluence of familiar strains of human experience, from religious faith to history to landscapes to hiking to eating to drinking to music, and see how poetry that arises out of speculation on all of these can heighten our senses of the real and the possible and the eternal. We should all have a little poetry in us, so together we will wrestle—and lounge—with T.S. Eliot, an Olympian of the craft.

In this brief five-week seminar, we will introduce some of the most important primary sources from early Christianity (up to Boethius d. 524).  In this rapid survey we will use these primary texts as starting points to discuss the broad developments of the church in its first six centuries, including the teaching and practice of the primitive church, the early persecutions and martyrs, the numerous heresies that troubled the Church, and the final ascendency of Christian civilization in the centuries after Constantine.

In the first week, we will read several short works from the "apostolic age," including the letters of Clement and Ignatius, and the anonymous works Letter to Diognetus and the Martyrdom of Polycarp.  In the second week we will read from the period of the "apologists," including selections from Justin Martyr (First Apology) and Tertulian (Apology).  In the third week, we will learn about a number of controversies that troubled the early church, focusing on the anti-Arian writing of Athanasius (On the Incarnation) and Gregory of Nazianzus (Five Theological Orations).  In the fourth week, we will learn about the conversion of the Roman Empire from Constantine to the death of Augustine, reading selections from Augustine's Confessions (Books 7 and 8).  In the fifth week, we will consider the transition to the middle ages as Christianity becomes fully ascendent, reading Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy.

All of these texts except the Consolation of Philosophy can be found in the two series edited by Philip Schaff: Ante-Nicene Fathers (ANF) and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (NPNF).  These are widely available as sets, but if you want to buy single volumes you will only need ANF vols. 1 (apostolic fathers) and 3 (Tertulian), and NPNF first series vol. 1 (Augustine's Confessions) and second series vols. 4 (Athanasius) and 7 (Gregory of Nazianzus).  The ANF and NPNF are out of copy-write so they are available for free as eBooks in several places such as on Kindle or available on the web at NewAdvent.org/fathers.  Boethius will need to be purchased separately.  I will use the Penguin Classics translation by Victor Watts (ISBN 0140447806).

Instructor: Dan Sheffler
Term: January 5-May 4
Class Time: Tuesday, 7-9

A study in the classic texts of political philosophy, addressing the questions faced by both ancient people and people today: What are the ends of political life? What is the best form of government to serve these ends? What is the proper relation between government and the individual, and between government and religion? Authors covered include Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, the Old and New Testaments, Tacitus, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, William Shakespeare, Montesquieu, Rousseau, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Hegel, and John Stuart Mill.

In the end, all questions are theological.  Pagans and Christians, atheists and saints have all shaped every aspect of the Great Conversation by the way they think (or don't think) about God.  In this course, we will try to develop an appreciation for the broad sweep of this history beginning with the Greeks, moving to the Christian middle ages, and ending in modernity.  This class will not be a course in Christian systematic theology as you might expect to find at a seminary.  Instead, we will be reading broadly from literature, drama, philosophy, epic, and scripture in order to learn how mankind has thought about God, eternity, the soul, ultimate meaning, and worship.

Instructors: Dr. Dan Sheffler Rev. David Charlton, Thomas Cothran, Jerry Salyer
Term: January 5-May 4
Class Time: Wednesday, 7-9

Instructor: Professor Carol Reynolds
Term: January 5-May 4
Class Time: Monday, 7-9

Using masterworks of Romantic/Early Modern literature, we will explore together two archetypal themes: the conflict between Good and Evil; and man’s struggle to find meaning.  Goethe’s rollicking , earth-shattering play Faust, Part I (1808) will set the frame for us. Then, we will proceed through Gogol’s ironic (and prophetic) short story The Nose (1836), Dostoevsky’s probing novel The Brother’s Karamazov (1880), Tolstoy’s incomparable novel Anna Karenina (1878), and conclude with Chekhov’s searing play The Cherry Orchard (1903). 

Instructor: Tracy Lee Simmons (author of Climbing Parnassus)
Term: 5 Week Course
Dates: October 8 – November 5
Time: Thursdays 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. EDT.

Why should we read Aristotle's Ethics? Because the work is evergreen. Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue in 1983 shook ethicists out of their complacent slumbers by confronting them anew with the ethical thought of Aristotle. The duty-based ethics of Immanuel Kant and the consequentialist ethics of John Stuart Mill had led many thinkers, however unwittingly, back to Aristotle, whose seminal achievements had fallen as a casualty of the European Enlightenment. And recent decades have seen an even more profound reappreciation of Aristotle as expressions like "human flourishing" have made their way back into discussions of what it means to be good and happy in this world. Tracy Lee Simmons, former associate editor at National Review during the editorship of William F. Buckley and author of Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, will serve as your practical guide through this great work on the Good Life. 

Instructor: Vigen Guroian (author of Tending the Heart of Virtue)
Term: 5 Weeks
Dates: Nov. 12-Dec. 19
Time: Thursday, 6:30-8:30

A seminar on religion and children’s literature Dr. Guroian first gave at Loyola University in Maryland and later at the University of Virginia. The goal will be to learn the moral and religious meaning in the stories Dr. Guroian has selected for the seminar and to discover in the stories themselves what makes them good stories. Dr. Guroian has chosen two stories of novel length, Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio and George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin. The shorter fairy tales that we will read are from that great corpus of fairy stories that have left for us by the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen.  Fairy Tale readings will include: The Grimms’s Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, The Juniper Tree. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, The Nightingale, The Little Mermaid.

Instructor: Dr. Carol Reynolds
Term: 5 Week Course
Time: Thursdays 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. EDT.
Dates: August 27-September 24

With so much well-deserved attention on Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment, Brothers Karamazov) and Tolstoi (War and Peace, Anna Karenina), it could be surmised that these two authors created Russian literature! But before them, a dashing, ill-fated poet named Alexander Pushkin set Russian literature afire, especially with Eugene Onegin, Russia’s most significant novelOther writers took up the mantel, particularly the astute storyteller Ivan Turgenev who penned Fathers and Sons, arguably the best story of inter-generational conflict, contrasting the patriots of the Napoleonic Era with their indulged sons steeped in nihilistic Romanticism. As we read and connect these two works, we will walk with Pushkin and Turgenev through the languid meadows of Russia's countryside as well as the glittering streets of St. Petersburg, seeking a literary understanding of the nineteenth-century "Russian soul.”