Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor

Matthew Rose

Director & Senior Fellow, Berkeley Institute

Dates: Thursdays on 7.7, 7.14, 7.28
Time: 5:30-7:30 PM

Reading schedule:

7/7: “The Nature and Aims of Fiction”; “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”
7/14: “The Grotesque in Southern Fiction”; “A Good Man is Hard to Find”; “On Her Own Work”
7/28: “Catholic Novelists and Their Readers”; “Revelation”; “Letter to A”

To RSVP for dinner and to receive the short readings, please contact

Go to Seminar Page

Why Beauty Matters: Aesthetics as a Guide to Love, Nature, and Revelation

Beauty is something most of us experience intensely but struggle to understand reflectively. We glimpse beauty all around us: in nature, art, the human body, and even in the rules of thought and number. But what can we say, if anything, about the character of beauty as such? In this seminar we will seek to understand beauty as the “splendor of form” and its properties of integrity, proportion, and simplicity. We will also discuss how beauty might guide us into a deeper knowledge of love, nature, and revelation. This seminar will be co-taught by Matthew Rose.

For copies of the short readings, please contact

Dates: Thursdays in June
Time: 5:30-7:30 PM

Go to Seminar Page

Dante’s Purgatorio: An Art of Willing

Dante’s Divine Comedy is certainly the greatest literary work Europe produced in the middle ages, maybe the greatest it has ever produced. Part of its greatness is its laying out for imagination what the will (will as both desire and choice) requires for its successful realization. It presents, you might say, an “art of willing.” These classes will introduce the Purgatorio, the second of the Comedy’s three parts, which narrates the journey through Purgatory. Though the instructor is a scholar of medieval literature, we will not look mainly at its medieval or its literary qualities; we will think through the discipline of wanting, choosing, and acting that it embodies. To receive a copy of the book or for more information, please contact

Dates: Tuesdays on 3.29, 4.5, 4.19, 4.26
Time: 5:30-7:00pm

Go to Seminar Page

Christian Love vs Friendship: How to Treat Others and Ourselves

What does it mean to love?  How is the Christian commandment to love one’s neighbor different from loving one’s friends or partner?  What does love require one to believe, do, and hope for?  We will read selections from Kierkegaard’s “Works of Love,” and the discussions will emphasize practical wisdom, that is, how we should live our lives.

Dates: Thursdays in June
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM

Go to Seminar Page

Difficult Discourse: Searching for a Critical Generosity: Berkeley Institute Graduate Conference 2016

February 26th and 27th, 2016
315 and 330 Wheeler Hall
UC Berkeley 

The question of this year’s conference touches the heart of our intellectual work and our personal integrity, and points to practical challenges we encounter as academic professionals, as intellectuals and researchers. Among the ideas and arguments that we meet in the course of our work, some will strike us as unproductive, false, willfully mistaken, even offensive; influential currents of thought may seem (and sometimes really are) actively hostile toward our understanding of our field or of responsible argument, or toward other beliefs and values to which we are committed. How can we form the habit of interpreting what we dislike justly and generously? How can we seek out and learn from what is best in the ideas we most thoroughly reject? How do we cultivate this attitude of openness and justice while also being clear and rational about what is in fact wrong about them? More complexly still, how, practically and concretely, do we engage those ideas openly and nobly in the formal and informal exchanges of our professional lives? And how do we engage the colleagues who advance those ideas–engage them as colleagues, as fellow searchers for the true and the good, from whom we are willing to learn and with whom we are eager to cooperate? How do we learn to state our own positions and offer our critiques with confidence and grace? The conference will explore the intellectual questions raised by influential academic ideas we might find troubling; it will also explore the attitudes and practices that can help us be attentive and generous while also being principled and rigorous.

Full Program and Registration Info