Past Offerings

Symposium GBI San Antonio

iSymposium/San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA)/San Antonio Public Library Foundation (SAPLF)/Tobin Branch Library at Oakwell (Tobin)

2017

  • Herodotus, History at Tobin and SAMA Ancient Mediterranean, Egyptian and Persian Galleries- January through May 2017. 
  • The Shorter Platonic Dialogues: What is Socratic Education? (iSymposium, ongoing weekly seminar study group which began in January 2016, ended June 2017)

2016

  • The Shorter Platonic Dialogues: What is Socratic Education? (iSymposium, ongoing weekly seminars 2016-)
  • January-March: Homer’s Iliad (Tobin)
  • April: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (SAMA)
  • April-June: Aeschylus, Oresteia – Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides (Tobin)
  • August: Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (SAMA)
  • October: Su Tong’s Raise the Red Lantern (SAMA)
  • September-November: Homer’s Odyssey (Tobin)

 

2015

  • January — Picasso, “Two Statements on Art”  paired with Rockefeller tapestries Kykuit (on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art, December 20, 2014 – March 8, 2015)On January 31st, Saturday afternoon, 3-5pm  at the San Antonio Museum of Art in San Antonio TX a group of a dozen folks from various backgrounds joined together in a conversation about the art of the Rockefeller exhibit and a reading of Picasso’s statements on the art making process.  The afternoon started with a private tour and lecture about the exhibition by Moira Allen, the Museum’s knowledgable Public Programs Manager.“Between 1955 and 1975, Nelson A. Rockefeller undertook an ambitious project: commissioning eighteen enormous tapestries modeled after some of Pablo Picasso’s most important paintings, including Girl with Mandolin, Interior with Girl Drawing, Night Fishing at Antibes, and Three Musicians. Enormous in scale, these woven works of art each took between three and six months to complete. They reflect Rockefeller’s interest in the medieval tradition of French tapestry and his love of modern art, while appealing to his egalitarian spirit.”
    ….
    “The tapestries were woven entirely by hand by Madame Jacqueline de la Baume Dϋrrbach in Cavalaire, France, in consultation with Picasso. First, a “cartoon” design was made by the studio and approved by Picasso. In most cases, a good set of transparencies would be sent to Dϋrrbach’s studio or color charts were prepared along with a narrative explaining the nuances of brushstroke, texture, and transition of colors. As another part of the process, yarns were often sent by Dürrbach’s studio to be matched against paintings that were in New York. Yarns were dyed especially for the weavings by a color expert at Aubusson or Felletin. Picasso collaborated with the weaver about color choices and kept up a lively exchange of letters with Rockefeller until his own death in 1973.”  (Exhibition Notes, San Antonio Museum of Art (samuseum.org)  Read more here.
  • Plato’s Laws (Continuing Series – iSymposium)
  • February (through May) – Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed  (St. Anthony Catholic High School ) The classic work “Pedagogia do Oprimido” written in 1968 was inspired by Paulo Freire’s many years of experience teaching and working with the poor and middle classes of Brazil and other countries.   Freire’s thought runs along one of the many streams of the Marxist tradition. This book should be of interest to anyone concerned with the large and important question of the role of education in achieving a “life well-lived”, a flourishing life.   How might education help people reclaim their humanity – help them come into the fullness of what is human in the best sense – in the midst of what may be dehumanizing and degrading conditions.
  • Fall 2015:28 Chinese : A Traveling Exhibition of 28 Contemporary Chinese Artists.  Seminar Reading: The Book of Changes, or the I Ching (Selections). Tuesday, September 29th: 6-8 PM Exhibition description “28 Chinese is the culmination of the Rubells’ six research trips to China between 2001 and 2012 where they visited one hundred artists’ studios in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xi’an and acquired artwork from twenty-eight artists.  These artists will be represented by paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations.”   (SAMA)
  • Sophocles, Oedipus cycle Oedipus the King October 8; Oedipus at Colonus Nov 12; Antigone December 10th (Tobin)

2014

  • January — Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail (SAMA) with the Eldzier Cortor exhibition. Opening question: Is art an appropriate response to injustice?   MLK’s Birmingham Jail gives a clear statement of some of the principles underlying the idea of nonviolent protest: one of the purposes is to bring about an atmosphere of creative tension in society – he compared this to Socrates’ role in Athens as gadfly.   On the basis of our viewing of the exhibit, the group agreed that Eldzier Cortor’s ouevre is not necessarily protest art, but evidently he saw beauty as possessing a great healing power.  He also was concerned with envisioning a space in which African Americans might feel at home in the modern world.

 

  • February — Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, with Samuel Johnson’s Preface to Shakespeare – paired with “Thomas Sully: Painted Performance” special exhibition.      Opening Question:   Thomas Sully grew up in a family of actors, but he devoted his life to painting, in particular the art of portrait painting.  Suppose every art captures in ways unique to each art certain features of human experience.  Our question is: Does portraiture in particular reveal a certain truth about human character not captured by the dramatic art (for example, of Shakespeare)?  And what could that be?  –We finished our conversation by examining two portraits of the same sitter.  One portrait appeared to capture the ‘inner’ character of the sitter, while the other appeared to have a different purpose.  We wondered how that could be, and what in particular gave us that impression – colors, lines, clothing worn by the sitter, expression on the sitter’s face?

 

“This therefore is the praise of Shakespeare, that his drama is the mirrour of life; that he who has mazed his imagination, in following the phantoms which other writers raise up before him, may here be cured of his delirious extasies, by reading human sentiments in human language; by scenes from which a hermit may estimate the transactions of the world, and a confessor predict the progress of the passions…” -Samuel Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare

“When a portrait painter sets out to create a likeness, he relies above all upon the face and the expression of the eyes, and pays less attention to the other parts of the body. In the same way, it is my intention to dwell upon THOSE ACTIONS WHICH ILLUMINATE THE WORKINGS OF THE SOUL, and by this means to create a portrait of each man’s life. I leave the story of his greatest struggles and achievements to be told by others….”  Plutarch, Life of Alexander the Great

 

  • March/April — Text: John Berger, “Why look at animals?” Gallery: Bob Kuhn Exhibit.  John Berger’s classic essay explores man’s changing relationship to animals from ancient cultures to our own day. Berger raises the question: What do we really see when we look at animals today?  We find it difficult to see animals apart from our own world and our own purposes.   We posed the question to Bob Kuhn’s paintings and drawings on animals.  What does Bob Kuhn seem to tell us in his work – how does he respond to Berger’s question and challenge “why look at animals?”  Berger claimed that today we only see our aloneness or isolation from nature.  Bob Kuhn -having spent countless hours over a lifetime observing and drawing wildlife – appears to have a more optimistic view of our relationship to animals.

 

  • June  Selections from Clement Greenberg’s writings on Matisse
  • July Clement Greenberg’s “Avante-Garde and Kitsch”
  • August Linda Nochlin’s “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?”
  • September Ananda K. Coomaraswamy’s “Why Exhibit Works of Art?”
  • October Hans-Georg Gadamer’s “The Play of Art”
  • November Anne D’Alleva’s “The Analysis of Form, Symbol and Sign” in Methods & Theories of Art History
  • December Natalie Boymel Kampen’s “Gender Theory in Roman Art” in I Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome

 2013

  • John Stuart Mill, “Spirit of the Age” and “On Liberty” (iSymposium)
  • Von Clausewitz: “On War”(iSymposium)
  • Machiavelli, selections from “The Prince” and “Discourses on Livy (iSymposium)
  • Code of the Samurai  (in conjunction with SAMA’s Samurai exhibit)
  • Tale of the Heike – Japan’s Iliad  (in conjunction with SAMA’s Samurai exhibit)
  • Chushingura, a play about the 47 Ronin samurai (in conjunction with SAMA’s Samurai exhibit)
  • “A Conversation with the Constitution”, with Dr. Christopher Phillips: sponsoring organization (SAPLF)
  • Susan Sontag, “On Photography” (SAMA)
  • Federalist Papers/United States Supreme Court: US v Windsor – The Defense of Marriage Act
  • Basho and other essayists on the simple life (SAMA)
  • Nagarjuna, Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (SAMA)
  • Laozi, Daodejing (SAMA)
  • Confucius, Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean (SAMA)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail (iSymposium)
  • Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government (iSymposium)
  • Plato’s Crito (iSymposium)
  • Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (SAMA)
  • Carl Schmitt, Constitutional Theory  (iSymposium)
  • Tocqueville, Democracy in America (selections) (iSymposium)
  •  Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws (selections) (iSymposium)
  • Aristotle, Politics Book IV (iSymposium)
  • Plato, Symposium and Phaedrus, Selections  (SAMA/SAPLF)
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Books I and II (SAMA/SAPLF)
  • Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy (SA)
  •  Supreme Court of the United States, DC v Heller (2008) (Gun Control) (iSymposium)

2012

  • Sophocles, Oedipus the King (SA)
  • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus (SA)
  • Sophocles, Antigone (SA)
  • Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, complete text (SA and iSymposium)
  • Federalist Paper #78 and Sebelius: SCOTUS ruling on the Affordable Care Act complete text (SA and iSymposium)
  • In conjunction with Thomas Jefferson Center, University of Texas Austin: Case for Judicial Review: Federalist #78 and Antifederalist (Brutus #11 and #16) (SA)
  • Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions (SA)
  • Carson McCuller’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (iSymposium)
  • Sophocles, Philoctetes (iSymposium)
  • Sallust, Catiline Conspiracy (iSymposium)
  • Cicero, Defense of Titus Annius Milo (iSymposium)
  • Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress in Special Session July 4th 1861 (iSymposium)
  • The Steel Seizure Case, Youngstown Co. v. Sawyer (1952) (iSymposium)
  • Adam Smith, Selections from “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments” (SA and iSymposium)
  • Karl Marx, The Power of Money (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts) (SA, SAPLF)
  • Tocqueville, Selections from “Democracy in America” on Popular Elections (iSymposium)
  • John Stuart Mill, Considerations on Representative Government (iSymposium)
  • Max Weber, “Suffrage and Democracy in Germany” (iSymposium)
  • Andrew Carnegie, “The Gospel of Wealth” (SA, SAPLF)
  • John Maynard Keynes, “The End of Laissez-Faire” (iSymposium)
  • Friedrich Hayek, Constitution of Liberty, Chapter 15 “Economic Policy and the Rule of Law” (iSymposium)

Symposium GBI San Francisco (Jul 2006- Nov 2009)

 

  • Virginia Woolf, Orlando
  • Oscar Wilde, Ideal Husband
  • T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland
  • Virgil, Aeneid
  • Mark Twain, Short Stories
  • Troyes, Arthurian Romances
  • Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
  • Herman Melville, Bartelby the Scrivener
  • Jonathan Swift, Gullivers Travels
  • Sufi Poetry
  • Sophocles, Ajax
  • Plato, Apology
  • Aristophanes, The Clouds
  • Rig Veda
  • Isa and Katha Upanishads
  • Quran
  • Edgar Allen Poe, Short Stories
  • Plutarch, Lives
  • Plato, Republic
  • Plato, Protagoras and Meno
  • Plato, Gorgias
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost
  • George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant
  • Aeschylus, Oresteia

  • Sophocles, Oedipus
  • Homer, Odyssey
  • Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy
  • Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
  • Nabokov, Lolita
  • Montaigne, Essays
  • Machiavelli, The Prince
  • Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
  • Cervantes, Don Quixote
  • Shakespeare, King Richard
  • Khayyam, Rubaiyat
  • Kama Sutra
  • Kafka, The Trial
  • Carl Jung, Answer to Job
  • Book of Job
  • Jason and The Golden Fleece
  • Homer’s Iliad
  • Hobbes, Leviathan
  • Herodotus, Histories
  • Sigmund Freud, Future of an Illusion
  • Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents
  • Flannery O’Connor, Short Stories
  • Goethe, Faust
  • William Faulkner, Go Down Moses
  • Euripides, Trojan Women
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Dostoevsky, Short Stories
  • Isak Dinesen,  Out of Africa
  • Rene Descartes, Meditations
  • Tocqueville, Democracy In America
  • Charles Darwin, Origin of Species
  • Dante, Divine Comedy: Inferno
  • Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • Confucius, Analects
  • Code of the Samurai
  • Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
  • Albert Camus, Stranger
  • Albert Camus, The Plague
  • Albert Camus, The Rebel
  • Bulgakov, Master
  • Buddhacarita
  • Bible: Wisdom Books
  • Gospel of Matthew
  • Gospel of John
  • Bible: David Story

  • Beowulf
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • Aristotle, Politics
  • Hannah Arendt, Promise of Politics, Between Past and Future
  • Thucydides, Peloponnesian War
  •  John Locke, Second Treatise on Government
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Origin of Inequality, Social Contract
  • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
  • Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Men/of the Rights of Woman
  • American Declaration of Independence
  • Constitution of the United States of America
  • Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Federalist/Antifederalist papers
  • Max Weber, Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Thucydides' Peloponnesian War
January-March 2018, San Antonio, TX - in conjunction with the San Antonio Museum of Art.  
The Education Quartet
iSymposium: A Serious Reader's Pathway Through Four Western Classics - Plato's Republic, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rousseau's Emile and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Starting Winter 2018.
Journey to the East
iSymposium East: A Serious Reader's Pathway through Six Eastern Classics from India, China and Japan
Plato's Meno
September - October 2017, San Antonio, TX
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