Past Toronto Pursuits Seminars

Toronto Pursuits 2019: Community

  1. The Gathering of Chaucer’s Pilgrims: The Canterbury Tales
  2. The Poetic Conversation
  3. Seeing Through Clothes
  4. No Man Is an Island: Icelandic Sagas
  5. The Second Sex 70 Years Later
  6. Like Light on Broken Glass: Stories and Plays of Anton Chekhov
  7. Heart and Soul: Nationalism in Music
  8. “This particular web”: George Eliot’s Middlemarch
  9. Homer’s Odyssey
  10. Great Shakespeare Scenes in Opera

Toronto Pursuits 2018: Power

  1. Listening to the Voices of Resistance
  2. Braving It Out: Position and Influence in Trollope
  3. The Enduring Power of Myth
  4. Podium Power: The Art and Artistry of Conducting
  5. Forces Mortal and Immortal: Homer’s Iliad
  6. Power Embodied: Memoirs of Hadrian
  7. Invisible Man: Claiming Identity Against Racism
  8. The Birth of New Powers in Florence
  9. Power, Rights and Personhood: Who Gets to Be Human?

Toronto Pursuits 2017: What Can We Know?

  1. Benefit of the Doubt: Shakespeare, Miller, Stoppard, Mamet
  2. Cinema and the Art of Concealment
  3. Eye of the Beholder: The Alexandria Quartet
  4. From Kant to Coppola: Art, Life & the Nature of Knowledge
  5. Imaginary Gardens: The Nature Poetry of Hopkins, Moore & Frost
  6. Innocence, Experience & Wisdom: Edith Wharton
  7. Make Room for Women Artists
  8. Man in the Mirror: Self-Knowledge in Montaigne, Shakespeare & Rembrandt
  9. A Symphonic Symposium: Sources, Symptoms & Solutions

Toronto Pursuits 2016: Metamorphosis

  1. “Who’s he when he’s at home?”: James Joyce’s Ulysses
  2. The Fall of the House of Oedipus
  3. The Hollow Crown: The Unmaking and Making of Kings
  4. Migration and Metamorphosis in Nabokov’s Pnin and Hill’s The Book of Negroes
  5. Everything Changes, Nothing Dies: Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Painting, Music, and Poetry
  6. “A Riddle Without an Answer”: Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend
  7. Speaking of Beauty
  8. Metamorphoses of Americans in Europe: Henry James’s The Ambassadors
  9. Finding Balance: Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose
  10. Betwixt and Between: Metamorphosis in Classic Fairy Tales
  11. Light Changes to Dark: Film Noir

Toronto Pursuits 2015: Greatest Hits

  1. What’s Done Is Done: What Is History Good For?
  2. The Pleasure Principle: Art Criticism That Performs
  3. Through a Tremulous Prism: Literary Memoir
  4. You Can Do It! James Joyce’s Ulysses
  5. Battle of the Titans: Tolstoy vs. Dostoevsky
  6. Living Character: George Eliot’s Middlemarch
  7. The Remorseless Working of Things: Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear
  8. Augustine’s Confessions
  9. Homer’s Odyssey
  10. Follow the Lieder: The Songs of Franz Schubert
  11. Poetry of the Voyage

Toronto Pursuits 2014: Looking East

  1. An African Conversation: Paton, Achebe, Coetzee
  2. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  3. Japan: The Cult of Beauty
  4. The Prophet and the Poet: Reciting God
  5. Muslim Women Writers of the Middle East: Breaking Out of Our Cocoons
  6. Independent People by Halldór Laxness: Iceland’s Rediscovered Masterpiece
  7. Taste of an Indian Classic: A Telling of the Mahabharata
  8. Islamic Art & Architecture: A Mirror of the Cosmos
  9. Japanese Cinema: Films by Akira Kurosawa
  10. Impressionism in Music

Toronto Pursuits 2013 

  1. Galore by Michael Crummey
  2. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  3. The Swerve: Lucretius and the Renaissance Turn to the Modern
  4. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  5. Ecstatic Lyricism: Reading the Ghazal
  6. How Darwin Made Monkeys of Us All: On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man
  7. Arguments Amongst Friends: Entertaining David Hume
  8. It’s a Mystery to Me
  9. Thou Shalt Not: The Decalogue by Krzysztof Kieslowski
  10. Ear of the Beholder: Interpretation and Criticism in Music
  11. On Photography by Susan Sontag
  12. The Art of Memory: Reading Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust

Toronto Pursuits 2012

  1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  2. A History of God by Karen Armstrong
  3. Terrible Beauty: W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney
  4. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
  5. Keeping Company with Montaigne: Essays
  6. And When They Were Good, They Were Very, Very Good
  7. A Holy Longing: Seeking the Divine in Short Fiction, Drama and Film
  8. Revenge and Justice in Ancient Greek Drama
  9. In Search of the Russian Soul: Dostoevsky’s Idiot
  10. Actors Need Not Apply – Several Plays Plus Coaching
  11. The Concerto: Studies in Contrast
  12. Ways of Seeing by John Berger

Toronto Pursuits 2011

Click here for the 2011 slide show

  2. MIDNIGHT IN SICILY – The Dark Depths of the Land of the Wine-Red Sea
  3. STARTING FROM LA MANCHA – Forays with Don Quixote
  4. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS – Benjamin Britten’s Literary Inspirations
  5. FROM BOTH SIDES NOW – Casualties of the Vietnam War
  6. SEAMUS HEANEY – History and Its Inheritors
  7. MINDING TIME – Virginia Woolf
  10. READING PICTURES – What We Think About When We Think About Art
  11. VIENNA – World Capital of Classical Music

Toronto Pursuits 2010 

Click here for the 2010 slide show

  3. STRANGE EPISODES AND AWAKENINGS: Melville, Kafka, and Conrad
  5. THE PLAYFUL PURITANS: Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens
  6. ALICE’S WONDERLAND (Alice Munro)
  7. THE POWER OF METAPHOR: Encounters with the work of Joseph Campbell
  8. RICHARD STRAUSS AND MODERNISM: Salome and Elektra as enduring expressions of an era
  9. GUSTAV MAHLER: Musical mastermind, mystical myth or misguided misfit?

Toronto Pursuits 2009

Click here for the 2009 slide show

  1. The Play’s the Thing: Shakespeare, Hamlet and Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author
  2. An Encounter with Socrates: Plato and Greek Art
  3. Unsinning the Soul: Dante, Purgatorio
  4. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  5. Thomas Mann and The Magic Mountain
  6. An Affirming Flame: The Poetry of W. H. Auden
  7. Myth and Meaning: Reading Lao Tzu, Carl Jung and Rollo May
  8. Let There Be Light: Religion and Science Square Off on How We got Here
  9. Memoirs and Morals: Writing in the First Person
  10. “Haydn” Seek: The search for Papa Haydn
  11. Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences
  12. The Legacy of Citizen Kane

Toronto Pursuits 2008: Later-Life Creativity

Click here for the 2008 slide show

  1. The Play’s the Thing: The Tempest & Long Day’s Journey into Night
  2. Old Wineskins (the Bible)
  3. Late Beethoven
  4. The Search for Meaning in Later Life (C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, Rumi, Auden, Rilke)
  5. Really Old Masters (Michelangelo, Goya, Monet and more)
  6. The Education of Henry Adams
  7. Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  8. George Eliot: Daniel Deronda
  9. The Leopard and Lampedusa’s Art of Memory
  10. Hemingway, First and Last

Toronto Pursuits 2007

Click here for the 2007 slide show

  1. The Play’s the Thing: Julius Caesar and Coriolanus
  2. The Book of Genesis
  3. J.S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion
  4. Goethe: Faust
  5. David Batchelor: Chromophobia
  6. Herman Melville: Moby Dick
  7. Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  8. Naguib Mahfouz: Children of the Alley
  9. Jazz, Blues, and Gospel: Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison
  10. The Art and Science of Leonardo da Vinci
  11. Keeping the Peace: Conversations with Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  12. Grace Under Pressure: Iranian Cinema

Toronto Pursuits 2005

  1. The Aeneid, by Virgil
  2. Myth, Mind, and Make-Believe: Selected works by C.G. Jung and Joseph Campbell
  3. Paradise Lost, by John Milton
  4. The Play’s the Thing: King Lear and Long Day’s Journey into Night
  5. Reading Dillard, Reading the World: The Phenomenon of Man, by Teilhard de Chardin and For the Time Being, by Annie Dillard
  6. Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
  7. Madam Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
  8. Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
  9. Tristan und Isolde, by Richard Wagner
  10. The Music of War
  11. The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing, by James Elkins
  12. La Dolce Vita, by Federico Fellini

Toronto Pursuits 2004

  1. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
  2. Words with Power, by Northrop Frye
  3. The Iliad, by Homer, and war poetry
  4. The Metamorphoses, by Ovid
  5. The Book of Job
  6. Russian short stories
  7. The Decalogue, by Krzysztof Kieslowski
  8. The Play’s the Thing: Sophocles’s Antigone, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya
  9. Gotterdammerung, by Richard Wagner
  10. Mass in B-Minor, by J.S. Bach
  11. A Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard

Toronto Pursuits 2003

  1. Bioethics: What to Do Until the Ph.D. Comes
  2. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
  3. Die Walkure, by Richard Wagner
  4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. Gustav Mahler: The Man, Music, Mystique and Myth
  6. Keeping Things Whole: Man in the Biosphere
  7. Looking at Art with Your Heart
  8. The Play’s the Thing
  9. Leadership in the Hebrew Bible

Toronto Pursuits 2002

  1. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
  2. The Brothers Karamozov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  3. Selected works of Flannery O’Connor
  4. A Modern Pas de Deux: A Selection of Music, Art and Literature
  5. Die Meistersinger, by Richard Wagner
  6. Dr. Faustus, by Thomas Mann
  7. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
  8. The Idea of Desire (selected readings)
  9. Myth and Belief

Toronto Pursuits 2001

  1. The Odyssey, by Homer
  2. Four visions of the Renaissance: Machiavelli’s The Prince , Giorgio Vasari’s “Life of Michelangelo” from Lives of the Artists, Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Josquin Desprez’s Missa de Beata Virgine
  3. Shakespeare’s Othello and Verdi’s Otello
  4. Middlemarch, by George Elliott
  5. The Deptford Trilogy, by Robertson Davies
  6. Civilization and its Discontents, by Sigmund Freud
  7. The Soul of the Text: A Selection of Jewish Writing Across Time and Place

Toronto Pursuits 2000

  1. Don Giovanni, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  2. Confessions, by Saint Augustine
  3. Purgatorio, by Dante Alighieri
  4. Death in Venice: Novella by Thomas Mann, opera by Benjamin Britten, film by Luchino Visconti
  5. Don Quixote, by Cervantes
  6. Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Frederick Nietzsche

Toronto Pursuits 1999

  1. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. Tristan und Isolde, by Richard Wagner
  3. Inferno, by Dante Alighieri
  4. The Republic, by Plato