People often say that there are no lectures at St. John’s, and that’s mostly true—you’ll never take a lecture class at any point during your time here. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll never hear a lecture on campus. In fact, every week there’s one time and two places where you’ll be sure to find one.
Each Friday evening, at Santa Fe’s Great Hall and at Francis Scott Key Auditorium in Annapolis, students, faculty, and members of the general public gather for Friday Night Lecture. These lectures are sometimes delivered by outside speakers and other times by St. John’s tutors (our name for our professors).
An exception is a few select weeks in which the time slot is used for a concert, student run play, or an all-college seminar. For instance, this coming Friday in Santa Fe there will be a performance by cellist Dmitry Kouzov and pianist Julia Fedoseeva, while Annapolis will feature a performance by the Parker String Quartet.
Last week in Annapolis, the lecture was delivered by tutor Steven Crockett, on the subject of the electoral college. His lecture was framed by current efforts, particularly by in the state of Maryland to change the role of electors in presidential elections. Nonetheless, he spent plenty of time focusing on the Constitution itself, along with the writings of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and a dash of Tocqueville.
After the lecture, students and tutors in attendance spilled out into the lobby to discuss what had been said, before heading to the nearby Conversation Room (a room made for large discussions, and amply supplied with comfortable chairs, a large table, and a chalkboard) for question period.
Question period, held after every lecture, provides a chance to discuss the night’s remarks with the lecturer him or herself. Such discussion can stretch late into the night, sometimes carrying on for far longer than the lecture itself—this is St. John’s, after all, and even at a lecture we love nothing more than a good discussion.