The Great Books Roundtable Discussions were originally sponsored by UWM’s Certificate Program in the Study of the Liberal Arts through Great Books, and are now hosted and sponsored by the Special Collections Department at the UWM Libraries.
The Roundtable meets approximately once a month in Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Golda Meir Library from 7 – 9 p.m. For the time being, all meetings will be held virtually via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact Max Yela (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on how to attend the Zoom meeting. A list of titles for the current year, as well as an index of previous readings, are posted on the Special Collections web site. The readings selected for the discussions are relatively brief: short stories, poetry, essays, short plays, philosophical arguments, pivotal historical documents, selections from longer works, etc. Any version of a text may be used to prepare for a discussion.
The discussions are open to all members of the UWM and Milwaukee communities—students, faculty, staff, friends, and neighbors. No expertise or prerequisites are required. We only ask that you read the selected text. Undergraduates from all Milwaukee institutions and members of the general community are especially welcomed to participate.
There is no lecture or presentation. A moderator begins the discussion with a broad question about the text; thereafter the discussion is allowed to grow spontaneously among the participants. The only rule is that comments must be aimed at gaining an understanding of the meaning of the text at hand. Discussions begin promptly at 7 p.m. and end promptly at 9 p.m.
Part of the purpose of the Great Books Roundtable Discussions is to illustrate the pedagogical method of shared inquiry. Another purpose is to disseminate an understanding and appreciation of the philosophy of great books education on the UWM campus. It was the assertion of the former Great Books Program that its methodology and philosophical approach toward the study of foreign languages, mathematics, history, and great books offers a challenging, meaningful, and useful Liberal Arts education.
Special Collections serves as host for the Roundtable Discussions in support of these educational goals. Special Collections’ programs, services, and policy of free, open, and equal access to all its collections have close affinities to the former Great Books Program’s vision of a vigorous Liberal Arts education and its method of shared inquiry.
For more information about the Roundtable Discussion series or its venue, contact:
Director, Certificate Program in the Study of the Liberal Arts through Great Books
Curtin Hall 805
Head, Special Collections
UWM Libraries, 4th Floor