Intro of Seminar
Seminar is a practice of conversation based on close study and reading of a book. The aim of the practice is to help participants arrive at intelligent understandings and insights of their own, and to give participants the opportunity to improve habits of mind – concentration, reading, listening, reflecting, imagining and reasoning.
The central focus of a seminar discussion is always a book. Why? For the simple reason that the book – especially the best books – makes us work harder. It sets the bar we lift our minds up to. For this reason, not any book will do, but a book with the highest stakes attached to them, and one that binds us together in common interest. We want masterpieces of human thought and imagination – real food for the mind and heart, objects of great beauty and, possibly, truth, and therefore objects of our highest desire.
How Seminar Works
A Symposium seminar is made up of five to eighteen participants, with one or two leaders present, sitting around a large table, or in a circle (in a gallery, for example), or collectively in video conference. Preparation for a standard discursive seminar meeting amounts to, on average, twenty pages of reading. For close-reading seminars, however, the most concentrated form of our practice, only two to five pages of reading are assigned.
Seminar is a practice, and differs essentially from both ordinary conversation and a formal lecture. A number of people from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and ages, face a challenging text which may present ideas alien to their own experience, and they attempt to talk about it reasonably, thinking through the book and the questions raised by it. Participants are co-investigators in the questions of importance rising from the encounter between the text and the particular group.