The Virgin Mary in European Painting

Marian art is a central theme in the history of European painting. This seminar will look at the history of how Mary has been depicted in the painting of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and in more modern movements. It will discuss these paintings not only from the perspective of Christian theology and Marian devotion, but also from the point of view of the academic history of art. This seminar has no readings; it will consist of close examination of high-resolution images.

Dates: Wednesdays on October 28, November 11, and December 2.
Time: 5:30-6:45pm PST
Location: Zoom

**This seminar is free and open to all Cal, GTU, and St. Mary’s students.

Reading Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is one of the most influential philosophers in the world today. He is celebrated not only for the range of his interests–which include language, politics, science, and religion–but also for the accessibility of his writings. This reading group will meet to discuss some of his seminal essays on human nature, culture, and Christianity. Taylor’s work is widely read across the humanities and the sciences; no previous study of philosophy is required to learn from his work. For more information or to receive the readings, please contact

Dates: Thursdays on October 8th, October 29th, November 19th, and December 3rd
Time: 5:30-6:45 PM PST
Location: Zoom

Reading schedule:


**This online seminar is free and open to all college students and recent graduates**

The Abolition of Man

The Abolition of Man

By early 1943, it was clear to many observers that the Allies would win the Second World War. But for C.S. Lewis, the conflict had revealed a civilizational crisis that military victory alone could not solve. He feared that the war had a exposed a terrifying ignorance about the foundations of a humane social order. He argued that to be worthy of victory,  and to avoid a degradation worse than defeat, Western nations would need to understand the basis of humanistic education. This reading group will meet to discuss Lewis’s The Abolition of Man and its argument that only universal values, rooted in man’s rational nature, can protect human dignity. For more information, or to receive a copy of the reading, please contact

Dates: Thursdays on 5/28, 6/4, 6/11
Time: 5:30-6:45 PM

Reading schedule:

5/28: Men Without Chests (pp. 1-26)
6/4: The Way (pp. 27-52)
6/11: The Abolition of Man (pp. 53-82)

Location: Zoom

This seminar is free and open to all Cal, GTU, and St. Mary’s students.

Imagining Race

Imagining Race

Three years before receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison gave a series of lectures at Harvard examining depictions of race in American culture. She argued that the American imagination had been profoundly shaped by the categories of “whiteness” and “blackness,” and that knowledge of their codependency is essential for knowledge of American history. With Morrison as our guide, this discussion group will consider how American history and literature has shaped, and has been shaped by, an unconscious awareness of race. For more information or to receive a copy of the short readings, please contact

Dates: Tuesdays on 7/7, 7/14, and 7/21.

Time: 5:30-6:45pm PST

Discussion Schedule:

7/7: Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark, Preface and Chapter One.
7/14: Chapter Two
7/21: Chapter Three

Location: Zoom

This seminar is free and is open to all full-time UC Berkeley, GTU, and St. Mary’s students.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

When Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientifc Revolutions appeared in 1962, it offered a radically new perspective on the history of science. It challenged the prevailing view that science develops by “accumulation” and argued instead that the history of science is marked by revolutionary “paradigm shifts.” In this seminar we will read selections from Kuhn’s seminal book and related readings, meeting to discuss its implications for the practice of science and the evolution of scientific knowledge. The readings will develop a model for scientific revolutions from historical developments in the physical sciences, which are relevant to on-going revolutions within a variety of scientific disciplines, including geology, cosmology, genetics, and neuroscience. Together, we will examine the stages in the “life” of scientific ideas alongside a brief history of the scientists who shaped them. We will also discuss what, if anything, makes scientific inquiry distinct from other methods of knowing. For a free copy of the book or to receive more information, please contact

Dates: Monday evenings on 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24

Time: 5:30-7:00pm

Reading Schedule:

Week 1: Kuhn chapter 1 and Karl Popper Logic of Scientific Discovery, sections 1.2, 1.3, 1.8.
Week 2: Kuhn chapters 2, 3, 10.
Week 3: Kuhn chapters 6, 8, 12
Week 4: Kuhn chapter 4 and Thomas Kuhn, “The Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?”