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“I have most enjoyed the observations of the group members about this text, and the challenge of integrating all the ideas expressed from the sessions. My Odyssey pathway is a wonderful group with participants who have so many varied and interesting viewpoints. A wonderful service you provide.”- Denise V.
Slow Reading Pathways
New participants enjoy our introductory offer: the first three slow reading sessions are free!
What is slow reading? Not a lecture course. Not your typical great books course.
Slow Reading means shorter but far deeper conversational reading.
Following the arguments, actions and images closely as they unfold.
Reading Pathways are the core offerings of Symposium, and we are happy to make all of them available to our subscribers.
Let your learning journey begin today.
Welcome to the Symposium Great Books Institute
We are dedicated to the single proposition: learning is the work of a lifetime. Consequently learning should not cease at the end of degree and certificate granting educational programs. For us, the one question of greatest importance is what we do after the program is finished, what we do to pursue learning for the rest of our lives. We believe the conversational study of the greatest works of human thought and imagination is one of the finest ways we can fulfill the task of a lifelong pursuit of learning. We want to open access to pathways of close reading, conversation and study that can lead not only to greater understanding, but also to the forging of lifelong friendships. Lovers of learning, fellow travelers, welcome home!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are no admissions requirements. The nature of the work we do makes Symposium a self-selecting project. Those who subscribe tend to be the sort of people who want to be at the table and are ready to converse, read and learn.
In order to participate in a reading pathway, you must be a subscriber to the Slow Reading Program. We offer quarterly and annual subscriptions.
Each subscription grants an “All Pathway Access”. Subscribers can participate in as many Reading Pathways as they wish or as their time allows.
The slow reading pathways meet once per week on Zoom, and are supported by a private Facebook-free forum. Currently Symposium is not holding meetings on location, until the further notice.
"Under the Plane Tree": A Symposium Blog
What People Are Saying
I’ve really enjoyed and felt enlightened by these seminars. It’s rarely easy to get a group of your friends together to discuss anything of consequence in a focused way, but Symposium completely solves that problem. Not only that, but it provides the impetus to learn about some of the classics I might have never made time for on my own.
“Symposium is different. It’s not a book club where you read the latest bestseller, sip wine, gossip, and do everything but talk about the book. And it’s not an academic seminar either – where a rumpled, aging professor in an ill-fitting corduroy blazer lectures on why a great book is sacrosanct. Instead, Symposium gives you – the average reader – an opportunity to tussle, engage, and struggle with understanding, the big ideas of life. Symposium participants are not expected to have any advanced knowledge about a text or to even have any idea who the author is. Many times, I have fundamentally misunderstood a text or read a passage incorrectly, but during (and after) the discussions, I have come away with a better understanding of the text through the thoughtful comments of others. Symposium will force you to engage authors and to tackle ideas that are so easily glanced over.”
Symposium is what I always felt a philosophy or literature discussion was meant to be. You commit yourself to carefully reading – sometimes with difficulty – one of the world’s great classics, on your own. And then, when you show up for a conversation, you’re joining a group of people who are approaching it with the same interest and thoughtfulness that you are. As we discussed these texts, I’d feel a combination of inspiration and profound humility. On the one hand, you witness some of history’s great minds struggling with issues that are complex, but also surprisingly relevant to how we live our lives today. On the other hand, one of the great things about a Symposium conversation is that you read critically. You’re not bound to the arguments you’re discussing – you’re joining a conversation with the author himself or herself, as well as with your fellow participants. Best of all, after finishing a Symposium seminar, I always come away with a deeper, much better understanding of the text and its ideas – together with a refreshing sense that there is far more to discover.