About St. John's College: Santa Fe
The Curriculum: The Preceptorial
For about seven to eight weeks in the middle of the year the seminars of the junior and senior classes are replaced by preceptorials. These are small groups of students engaged in the study of one book, or in exploration of one subject through several books. Students are usually given a choice of sixteen to twenty preceptorials on books or subjects of particular interest to the tutors who offer them. Students may suggest a topic and invite a tutor to study it with them.
Although many preceptorials study one of the books of the seminar list, or a theme suggested by the program, some preceptorials may deal with books and themes the students would not otherwise encounter. There are generally not more than ten students in a preceptorial. Guided by a tutor, they proceed at a pace more leisurely than that permitted by the seminar. Usually, the students' work is completed by the writing of papers, which may be read in draft to the preceptorial and criticized by the other members.
Listed below are some of the preceptoral subjects offered on the two campuses in recent years.
Heidegger: Being and Time
Design and Expression in the Visual Arts
Saussure: Course in General Linguistics
Readings in Lao Tsu and Confucius
Darwin: Natural Selection
Sartre: Being and Nothingness
Galileo: Dialogues on the Two Chief World Systems
Shakespeare: Selected Plays
T.S. Eliot: Selected Poetry
Bosch and Bruegel
Kant: Critique of Judgment
Augustine: City of God
Austen: Selected Novels
Faraday: Experimental Researches in Electricity and Magnetism
Ethical Problems in Medicine
Nietzsche: Twilight of the Idols