The great books are not only records of the human thinking and imagination stretched to the limits, but they are masterpieces of fine art. The books were carefully crafted for many lifetimes of reading and reflection. We as readers must approach these books in the same spirit – a broad, generous spirit – in order to truly appreciate what they have to offer. This is why we have adopted a more workmanlike approach to the great books here at Symposium.
One of the most surprising and delightful discoveries is that slow reading – because it involves greater concentration on shorter readings – relieves the burden of heavy reading assignments endemic to academic programs. This is a better use of time, and is smarter reading.
We offer three kinds of slow reading:
1. Single book slow reading pathways, from cover-to-cover. Minimum duration is 1 quarter. We offer a variety of pathways, from poetry and literature, to philosophy and mathematics. To subscribe see form below.
2. Thematic reading pathways, working slowly through curated selections from works of many authors. 2 or more quarters in duration. You can sign up on a form provided for each thematic reading course page.
3. Reading poetry in Greek or Latin, slow reading enriched by the original language. Offered September through May. You may sign up for these are on the Latin and Greek course page.
View our pathways here.
Subscribe to Slow Reading Pathways
Frequently Asks Questions:
What do I get with a subscription?
What is slow reading?
Slow reading means: shorter readings, but deeper diving into the greats. Every week for a little over an hour, you meet with fellow lovers of learning to face a challenging text, and work at it, slowly. Each group differs in the amount of material covered. But all are committed to slowing down and taking our time. These books are built for life, not for a few conversations, but for as much leisure and time that we can bring to them.
What is a “pathway”?
A “pathway” is a “course”: The word “course” in its root sense means “pathway.” In this way, a reading and learning “pathway” not only distinguishes the sort of learning undertaken at the table from a typical “course”, but the term also gets at what we take to be the core of reading and learning, a pursuit, moving along pathways of meaningful human discourse. While we proceed from quarter to quarter, most slow reading pathways offer a “big picture”, a longer range scope of reading that make their way through a series of books and fundamental questions.
One of the subscription benefits is a one-on-one “liberal learning consultation session” What is that and how can I make use of it?
What is the difference between slow reading subscriptions?
If you are interested in a single book slow reading, you will subscribe to the single book pathway of your choice. One subscription gives you access to all of single book pathways. You may choose between quarterly or annual subscriptions. If are coming to Symposium for the first time, you might want to select the “Try it out” option, which invites you to the first seminar for free.
If I want to “try it out” do I get the whole quarter (3 months) free or the first session in the pathway?
Our “try it out” option allows you to join a single hour or hour and half-long seminar or session in the whole quarter (a sequence of approximately 12 sessions.) This option helps you meet the people, to get a feel for the group and our approach, to see if it is the right fit for you. You don’t have to choose this if you are new to Symposium – but it’s an option for you, if you wish. After this first session, you may choose to continue or not, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have about your experience.
Are “thematic reading” and ancient language pathways (Latin and Greek) included in the slow reading subscription?
No. Thematic reading and ancient language pathways require a different level of preparation on the leader’s part, and is consequently priced separately. Each Thematic Reading or Language pathway is a single payment for the whole course (unless you opt to split it into 2 monthly payments or work out another arrangement with us). If you are interested in signing up for one a Thematic or Language pathway, simply sign up on the form provided at each pathway’s page.
Why is Symposium not free?
Slow reading with a group requires discipline and follow-through and organization. Tell us if this sounds familiar: you get together with a group of people because you want to read a challenging book: maybe its Homer’s Iliad, Eliot’s the Four Quartets or a great Russian novel like War and Peace. Everyone is excited, there is so much potential here! The first few meetings come and go, you are reading, you are having riveting discussions and learning and then…things start to fall apart. Or, maybe they don’t fall apart…maybe your group makes it to the very end of your project and then you are all left wondering…now what?
That question…now what?…and the related ability to keep a group running well throughout the entirety of a reading endeavor are two of the greatest strengths that Symposium brings to the world of classical adult education.
Specifically, our leaders bring the following qualities to every single reading adventure.
These are qualities that make sure your book group doesn’t fall apart. They are qualities that can help you directly answer: what comes next?
And we believe that they are qualities that should be fairly compensated.
As a 501c3 non-profit business, Symposium prides itself on charging a reasonable membership fee for all class participants. Participation is not only to a class, but to a community. Subscriptions come with all group access to any reading pathway. Unlike some organizations, we are not in partnership with any large university or a college that can “pay our way” and we do not expect our leaders to work for free – that feels exploitative to us…no, thank you! Instead, we rely on the very reasonable fees collected from our membership to cover the following costs:
-Payment of leaders
-Funding of web presence and marketing materials
-Administrative costs – including organizing course calendars, scheduling sessions, and corresponding with individual members whenever they have a question.
Over and above this, we believe that while the gifts of education are priceless, individuals committed to learning always get more out of the process when they have some investment in their learning experience. The truth is that while free experiences may sound great, their rates of attrition tell you everything you need to know. Symposium is committed to our long-term mission of providing best classical adult learning experiences that explore the greatest ideas that have been thought and said. We believe this mission is worthwhile and worthy of your support. And we would like to be offering these unique learning experiences for many years to come, in a way that is sustainable. Thank you!
I’m new! What is my subscription rate?
If you are new to Slow Reading seminars, you are entitled to enjoy the first class session for free. This is our “try before you subscribe” option. Just fill out the form above, and make sure to select “Try it out” and then submit your interest. (No payment is required at this time.) This offer applies to all Symposium pathways: single-book, thematic and language slow reading. If you wish to continue, you have an opportunity to sign up at for the remainder of the pathway. If – on the other hand – our learning style doesn’t fit your own, then there is no obligation to continue.
What are your regular single book slow reading subscription rates?
$250 per Quarter (every three months), $750 annual (1 Quarter free) (Subscriptions are nonrefundable.) Sign up for one pathway, and you get access to as many other pathways as you wish.
Who is Symposium right for?
Symposium is the right fit for all serious life-long learners, who are committed to the conversational reading of the best that is thought and said.
When can I Subscribe?
A short window of opportunity opens every three months – quarterly – to onboard new readers.
When do subscriptions re-open next time?
The next opportunity will be in late June early July. Sign up for our free newsletter to stay updated!
Can I join after a slow reading pathway has already started?
Yes. A benefit of slow reading is that it allows for new participants to join and catch up.
Do Reading Pathways ever end?
Yes. While we are committed to a much slower, workmanlike approach than others, we still want to complete are work in a reasonable time frame. have Each group has different estimated times to completion, so make sure you check the offerings individual page. On the whole, however, the estimated time for a single work is from 12 to 24 weeks or 1 to 2 quarters.
Can I subscribe to more than one pathway?
The price of one subscription includes an “All Pathway Access”, so you can enjoy participation in one or more learning ventures.
Are there opportunities to connect with members of the seminars?
Yes. Collegiality and friendship are central to our learning community. Subscription to each Pathway includes membership in an excellent private, Facebook-free forum to support fellowship and learning in particular reading pathway.
When do the single book slow reading pathways meet?
The Great Books of Iberia Series Tuesdays, 2p EST with Reynaldo Miranda and Miryam Bujanda
Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Wednesdays 1 pm Eastern/ 12 Central with Jeff Johnston and Eric Stull.
Shakespeare Plays, Wednesdays 2 pm Eastern/ 12 Central and 8pm EST (two separate groups) with Eric Stull.
Virgil in Translation, Monday evenings with Eric Stull
Aristotle “Ethics”: Thursdays 1 pm EST/12 pm Central, Reynaldo Miranda and David Saussy”
- History and Political Thought, Wednesday Evenings
Slow reading case study: Jim Rice
The slow reading program complements other learning ventures. David Saussy discusses slow reading with long time participant Jim Rice about his experiences at Symposium Great Books Institute.