Toronto Pursuits: July 14 to 19, 2019

Toronto Pursuits is a salon in the sun for inquiring adults from across North America. Each July, a convivial community gathers to engage with compelling literature, art, music, and film—works that move, provoke, unsettle, and inspire. We come to wrestle with questions and ideas that matter. We come eager to listen to and learn from one another, and ready to explore new points of view. We come to meet old friends and make new ones.



We have just wrapped up our 2018 program and are hard at work preparing 2019. We’ll have full seminar and registration information available shortly. To whet your appetite, here are our 2019 seminars:

  • The Gathering of Chaucer’s Pilgrims: The Canterbury Tales with Denise Ahlquist
    From bawdy flirts to noble knights, from the lowest joke to the highest parable, the tales and tellers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales bring their complex community vividly to life.
  • “This Particular Web”: George Eliot’s Middlemarch with Nancy Carr
    Through the novel’s multiple plots and sets of characters, Eliot explores how individuals are shaped by, and seek to shape, “this particular web” of community.
  • No Man Is an Island: Icelandic Epics with Mark Cwik
    These treasures of world literature examine the struggle to forge and maintain community in harsh conditions.
  • Like Light on Broken Glass: Stories and Plays of Anton Chekhov with Sean Forester
    The ability to find beauty in the messy details of everyday life is at the core of Anton Chekhov’s stories and plays. These are love stories, family dramas, and explorations of community and society.
  • The Poetic Conversation with Rosemary Gould
    Explore some of the unique ways poems explore what community is, whether they seem to accept or reject it.
  • Seeing Through Clothes with Betty Ann Jordan
    “Clothes, even when omitted, cannot be escaped,” says historian Anne Hollander in Seeing Through Clothes. To what extent has art through the ages spurred our acute awareness of being properly dressed?
  • The Second Sex 70 Years Later with Wendy O’Brien
    Can a woman ever be seen as a self, or is she inevitably to be considered the “other” in society? Can there be a community of women? Can women be full participants in the broader political community? The philosophical problems that informed Beauvoir’s work continue to affect the lives of women and men today.
  • The Past Is Not Past: Absalom, Absalom! and Beloved with Stuart Patterson
    How does a community stay intact, even through trauma? What is our collective relationship to the past? Take on these questions with two great American novels.
  • Heart and Soul: Nationalism in Music with Rick Phillips
    Music nationalism has existed for centuries in subtle forms of expression, but as European countries gained independence or came of age during the 19th century, their history, heroes, and legends grew in importance.
  • New! Afternoon seminar on the Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson, with Mark Cwik



Choose one of our lively, focused, and participatory seminars, which are the anchor of the week. Seminars gather from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday to Friday and are followed by an excellent buffet lunch. Afternoons and evenings are devoted to social and cultural activities both on and off campus—talks, literary quizzes, museum visits, and concerts are just a few options to choose from. There’s a free and open approach at Toronto Pursuits that’s relaxing and stimulating at the same time.

We have put together a page on Preparing for Your Seminar that gives more information on how to get the most from your seminar and what you can expect from the experience.


Updated information on 2019 fees will be available shortly.

The fee includes one seminar Monday to Friday, coffee and newspapers all week, five buffet lunches, afternoon speakers, a five-day opera lecture series, film screenings, guided walks, two cocktail receptions, a travel bazaar, and a range of other cultural and social activities. All fees are subject to the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

A few optional activities are not included in the fee (e.g., museum visits) and most can be paid on site. Check back soon for more detailed  information about the 2019 program.

DISCOUNTS — one per person

  • Participants who have attended Toronto Pursuits at least five times receive a C$200 discount.
  • Register with a friend, and if one or both are first-time participants, each receives a C$200 discount.

REFUNDS AND CANCELLATIONS — A C$300 nonrefundable deposit plus HST is required. Per Toronto Summer Music Festival policy, concert tickets are nonrefundable, nontransferable, and nonexchangeable. Please see our Registration and Cancellation Policy and our Privacy Policy for more details.

SEMINAR CHANGES We encourage you to read the seminar descriptions carefully to make sure the topic and amount of reading are a good match for you. You can always find all readings listed on each seminar page and get details on length using book ISBNs. You are free to change your seminar before July 1, 2019, provided there is space in the seminar you want to move to and you are able to complete any preparation required. After July 1, we cannot accommodate any change in seminar.


Participants are responsible for booking their own accommodations. Most out-of-town participants stay on the Victoria University campus or at a nearby hotel.

Updated information for 2019 accommodations will be available in fall 2018.



Travel Adventures for the Mind
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