Online Seminars, Lectures and Book Discussions

Small-Group Seminars | Various times, see individual programs for details

Our seminars are everything you love about learning with Classical Pursuits — focus on the text, emphasis on exploring meaning together, and a leader who asks questions to get you thinking — in virtual form. Online or in person, you’re part of a convivial community that gathers to read, watch, listen to and discuss compelling literature, art, music and film. Study works that move, provoke, unsettle and inspire.

Classical Pursuits offers a rare experience in continuing education. We deliberately differ from courses where a lecturer is teaching you about a topic. While our practiced leaders give context and help participants “think out loud”, the real teacher is the book, poem, painting or piece of music you’re studying.

At Classical Pursuits, we are always learning in community. We work together toward deeper understanding. If this kind of learning is new for you, know that you are not alone! We are always welcoming first-time participants, and can offer extra support to help you get started. Click here for more tips on preparing for seminar discussion.

You don’t need any previous study or specialized knowledge to participate in any of our seminars. The only prerequisites are to do the reading and come with an open mind.

Current Seminar Catalog | Scroll over the tiles to learn more

Want to see past seminars? Click here. See full terms and conditions for Classical Pursuits online seminars.

Poetry of Sappho
December 2
Washington Square by Henry James
December 5
Picasso and Matisse: The Battle for Art
January 8
Proust's In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way
January 9, 2022
Sold Out
James Joyce's Ulysses
January 11, 2022
The Remorseless Working of Things, Part I:
Hamlet and Othello
January 12, 2022
Go For Baroque!
January 20, 2022
At the Mercy of Others: Greek Drama II
January 31, 2022
The Beast Within by Emile Zola
February 3, 2022
More details soon
The Great Gatsby
February 5 and 6, 2022
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
February 13, 2022
The Remorseless Working of Things, Part II:
King Lear and Macbeth
February 16, 2022
Germinal by Emile Zola
March 2022
More details soon


Online Presentations | Thursdays at 2 p.m. Eastern | Free!

Join us Thursdays at 2 p.m. Eastern. For recordings of all our past webinars, click here.

Celebrating Día de Muertos
November 1
Virtual Paris Walk with Lisa Pasold
September 30
Conversation with Classicist Shadi-Bartsch-Zimmer
September 9
Classical Pursuits talks with the renowned classicist about her new translation
of Vergil's Aeneid


Friday Flash Fiction | Fridays at 5 p.m. Eastern | Free!

Join Classical Pursuits director Melanie Blake or longtime San Francisco Great Books Council leaders Louise DiMattio or Louise Morgan for a one-hour discussion of a classic or contemporary short story, with a selection that changes weekly. Explore a range of authors and genres. Bring your favourite drink and enjoy chatting with other readers.

How to join Friday Flash Fiction: Email Melanie to RSVP if you do not already have the recurring Zoom link. Please keep the Zoom link handy.

Many of our stories are from the anthology The Art of the Story. We strongly encourage you to get this anthology. Most stories will also be available online, and access details will be included for these stories.

  • Reading for December 3: “In the Region of Ice” by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Reading for November 19: “The Magic Barrel” by Bernard Malamud
  • Reading for November 12: “Home Sickness” by George Moore
  • Reading for November 5: “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami in The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for October 29: “The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor” by Deborah Eisenberg in The Art of the Story and online here
  • Reading for October 22: “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz
  • Reading for October 15: “Escort” by Abdulrazak Gurnah in The Art of the Story and online here
  • Reading for October 8: “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison
  • Reading for October 1: “The Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee in The Art of the Story and online here
  • Reading for September 24: “Behind the Blue Curtain” by Steven Millhauser, in The Art of the Story and online here
  • Reading for September 17: “Pornography” by Ian McEwan, in The Art of the Story and online here
  • Reading for September 10: “The Conversion of the Jews” by Philip Roth, online here
  • Reading for September 3: “Reflections of Spring” by Duong Thu Huong, on p. 227 of The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for August 27: “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” by Angela Carter, on p. 137 of The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for August 13: “Aren’t You Happy for Me?” by Richard Bausch, on p. 85 of The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for August 6: “The Singers” by Ivan Turgenev
  • Reading for July 30: “Gorilla, My Love” by Toni Cade Bambara, found on p. 58 of The Art of the Story on online here
  • Reading for July 16: “The Keeper of the Virgins” by Hanan Al-Shaykh, found on p. 9 of The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for July 9: “Evermore” by Julian Barnes found on p. 73 of The Art of the Story
  • Reading for June 25: “A Gift from Somewhere” by Ama Ata Aidoo, found on p. 1 of The Art of the Story or online via Scribd
  • Reading for June 18: “The Farm” by Joy Williams, found on p. 608 of The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for June 11: “Death of a Travelling Salesman” by Eudora Welty
  • Reading for June 4: “The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov
  • Reading for May 21: “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick
  • Reading for May 14: “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Reading for May 7: “Brooksmith” by Henry James
  • Reading for April 30: “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor
  • Reading for April 23: “The End of the Party” by Graham Greene (story starts on p. 18 of the PDF)
  • Reading for April 16: “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Reading for April 9: “Homecoming” by Rabindranath Tagore
  • Reading April 2: “My Sister’s Marriage” by Cynthia Marshall Rich
  • Reading March 26: “Theft in a Pastry Shop” by Italo Calvino
  • Reading March 19: “The Embassy of Cambodia” by Zadie Smith
  • Reading for March 12: “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
  • Reading for February 26: “Weekend” by Fay Weldon
  • Reading for February 19: “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver
  • Reading for February 12: “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Reading for February 5: “Brothers” by Sherwood Anderson
  • Reading for January 29: “The Book of Martha” by Octavia E. Butler
  • Reading for January 22: “The Killers” by Ernest Hemingway
  • Reading for January 15: “Nuns at Luncheon” by Aldous Huxley
  • Reading for January 8: “Smouldering Crisis” by Margit Kaffka (story is pp. 158–170 of PDF)

See previous weeks’ readings on our archives page.

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