Online Seminars, Lectures and Book Discussions

Online Seminars | See the catalogue for full 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, 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.

Sign up for multiple seminars and save! Learn more about our Frequent Reader program.

Current Seminar Catalogue | Scroll over the tiles to learn more

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

Sodom and Gormorrah by Marcel Proust
May 15, 2022
The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
June 8 and 9, 2022
Music of Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann
June 14 and 15, 2022
Ovid and Homer in Art
June 21 and 22, 2022
The Fugitive and The Captive by Marcel Proust
July 3, 2022
Time Regained by Marcel Proust
September 4, 2022
Essential Readings in Democracy
October 18, 2022
Ovid's Metamorphoses Tuesday
New date TBA


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.

Myths of Sicily
New date TBA
More details soon
Highlights of Dutch and Flemish Painting
Past event
Paul Bowles in Tangier
Past event
Caravaggio’s Self-Portraits: Mirroring the Modern Gaze
Past event


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 May 13: “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Reading for May 6: “Brownies” by ZZ Packer
  • Reading for April 29: “The Artificial N—” by Flannery O’Connor
  • April 22: “A Distant Episode” by Paul Bowles
  • No meeting April 15 for the Passover and Easter holidays
  • Reading for April 8: “Everything” by Ingeborg Bachmann
  • Reading for April 1: “The Tree of Knowledge” by Henry James
  • Reading for March 25: “The Moment Before the Gun Went Off” by Nadine Gordimer
  • March 18: “The Wall” by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Reading for March 11: “The Evening Sun Go Down” by William Faulkner
  • Reading for March 4: “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” by Katherine Mansfield
  • Reading for February 25: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway
  • Reading for February 18: “The Outlaws” by Selma Lagerlöf
  • Reading for February 11: “Mary Postgate” by Rudyard Kipling
  • Reading for February 4: “East Side: North Africa” by Jane Bowles
  • Reading for January 28: “My Father, the Englishman, and I” by Nuruddin Farah, in The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for January 21: “Never Marry a Mexican” by Sandra Cisneros, in The Art of the Story on online here
  • Reading for January 14: “The Old Man Slave and the Mastiff” by Patrick Chamoiseau, in The Art of the Story or online here
  • Reading for January 7: “Are These Actual Miles?” by Raymond Carver, in The Art of the Story or online here

See previous weeks’ readings on our archives page.

By participating in any Classical Pursuits program, you are agreeing to abide by our code of conduct.