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St. John's College

Washington and Lafayette once danced at a waltz in McDowell Hall in Annapolis. Biweekly waltz parties are held in the Great Hall to this day.


Great Books, Powerful Ideas

The program at St. John's is rigorous in practice and broad in scope. There are no textbooks, so rather than reading a nice, succinct paragraph that describes a concise idea we wrestled with the original works of great thinkers. We did that for everything: Classical Greek, Philosophy, Atomic Physics, etc.  Unlike traditional colleges, every class at St. John's is conversation-based. In this communal learning environment I had ample opportunity to practice and hone the art of questioning and developing ideas. St. John's also had regular reviews called "Don Rags," where professors sat around a table and gave comprehensive feedback about my work. That practice sharpened my ability to self-critique and perfect my own work.

Selections from the Reading List:

Melville, Benito Cereno
Montaigne, Essays
Mozart, Don Giovanni
Newton, Principia
Nietsche, Geneology of Morals
Plato, Symposium
Rousseau, The Social Contract
Shakespeare, Tempest
Smith, Wealth of Nations
Sophocles, Agamemnon
Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Wagner, Tristan and Isolde
Zuckerkandl, The Sense of Music

Aristotle, Politics
Augustine, Confessions
Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Descartes, Regulae ad directionem ingenii
Hobbes, Leviathan
Homer, Iliad
Hume, Treatise on Human Nature
Leibnitz, Mathematical Writings
Lincoln, Assorted Speeches
Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
Machiavelli, The Prince
Madison, Federalist
Marx, Das Capital