Keynote Speaker Archive

Meet Our Keynote Speaker from Oct. 2, 2021
Jonathan Gregg
Jonathan Gregg
Visiting Assistant Professor of Education at Hillsdale College, B.A. in Mathematics and English from Hillsdale College, M.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and currently pursuing a PhD in Mathematics Education from Michigan State University

"I am the arrow shaft": Annie Dillard, Seeing, and Classical Pedagogy

One compelling representation of the quest to recover a traditional understanding of education that manages to remain relevant in the modern milieu can be seen through the life and work of Annie Dillard. Her Pulitzer Prize winning book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, details her Thoreau-ian pilgrimage into nature as she observes, delights in, and meditates upon the world around her. In particular, she calls the reader to a new way of seeing, in which the natural world becomes both reanimated as a source of knowledge, beauty, and love and re-inscribed by the human and the divine. Following in Dillard’s footsteps, both teachers and students might undertake a similar journey: encountering the surrounding world; seeing the entangled beauty and violence, grace and chaos, order and disorder; and being captivated and pierced by that vision in such a way that those around us cannot help but undertake a pilgrimage of their own. It is in this vein that this lecture endeavors to proceed: tracing the different ways Dillard calls her reader to see in order to renew our vision for teaching and learning within classical education.

Meet Our Keynote Speakers from Feb. 27, 2021

In Fall of 2021, we had the great pleasure of hosting the dynamic duo, Dr. David Rothman and Dr. David Mason, both previously poet laureates. Read on to learn more about these eloquent and accomplished poets and the topics of their presentations.


Keynote Address Part I: Featuring Dr. David Rothman 

Michael Oakeshott and 'The Voice of Poetry
in the Conversation of Mankind'

David J. Rothman has published six volumes of poetry, including My Brother’s Keeper (Lithic Press, 2019) and The Elephant’s Chiropractor (Conundrum Press, 1998), both of which were Finalists for the Colorado Book Award. Over the last 30 years, hundreds of his poems and essays have appeared Appalachia, The Atlantic, The Formalist, The Gettysburg Review, The Hudson Review, The Journal, The Kenyon Review, Light, Measure, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and scores of other newspapers, magazines, and journals. Rothman has also served for many years as a teacher and an arts and academic administrator. Most recently, he served as President/CEO of the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts, in Jackson, Wyoming. Before that he served as Director of the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University, where he designed the Poetry Concentration, which he also directed and in which he taught.
Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990) was an English political and moral philosopher who is generally considered conservative because of his investigation of questions of rationality and individual agency, though his work resists easy categories. While he wrote about a very wide range of subjects, he is rarely if ever discussed as a theoretician of aesthetics, and yet his long essay "The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind" is one of the major statements on art by any critic, philosopher or aesthetic theorist of the twentieth century. In this great essay, Oakeshott argues that the conversation of mankind has essentially three components: the practical business of daily life; the disinterested pursuit of truth; and the poetic, which is the voice of delight. It is the third voice, he argues, the voice of poetry, that has been slighted and but poorly understood in the modern world. This talk will not only give a summary of Oakeshott's complex argument, but also suggest how it helps us to think more clearly about pedagogy, curriculum, and most importantly, the role of art in our lives.


Keynote Address Part II: Featuring Dr. David Mason

Incarnation and Metamorphosis: Can Literature Change Us?

Bio The former poet laureate of Colorado, David Mason’s many books include Ludlow: A Verse Novel, The Sound: New and Selected Poems, Davey McGravy: Tales to be Read Aloud to Children and Adult Children and Voices, Places: Essays. He lives in Colorado and Tasmania.


The primary goal of my writing, like that of my teaching over thirty years, has been to defend the “thisness” of literary works, their very particularity, the way they happen and the freedom they offer the honest heart. Insisting that literary works toe anyone’s political line is not freedom, nor is attacking the human beings who made them. The rush to judgment must be resisted. Literature asks us to slow down, take pleasure in the words that make us who we are, and hopefully be more aware of the planet on which we are privileged to live.

I begin with incarnation, embodiment, because literature means through the body, not just as it slumps in a reading chair, but also as it dances and acts. The process of metamorphosis—a very real phenomenon in nature, reminds us that we do change, we do shed our skins, we do die and find ourselves reborn in both literal and metaphorical ways. I have often stirred memoir into literary criticism in the belief that we are always telling stories, no matter what genre we adopt. This is how we face each other and try to say what we enjoy and why, and what we believe and why.

Meet our Keynote Speaker from 2020

Dr. Brian A. Williams of Eastern University

Dean of Templeton Honors College, Dean of Arts & Humanities, 

Co-Director of MAT in Classical Education, Professor of Ethics & Liberal Studies

The Workshop of Humanity: Reading Towards Virtue

We flew in Dr. Williams from Pennsylvania to deliver an edifying lecture on Classic Literature. Williams states: Aristotle asserts that the experience deficit of young people makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to develop the virtue of prudence. They lack an older person’s “eye sharpened by experience” which he thinks is essential for virtuous practical reason. However, one 16th  century classical educator, Philip Melanchthon, offers a solution: read Homer, whose epics educate through beauty and are the very "workshop of humanity." This talk brings these two thinkers together to explore how literature can help any reader nurture virtue, morally ordered affections, and prudence.

Meet our Keynote Speaker from 2019
Jared Dybzinski
Jared Dybzinski
Literature Instructor and Department Head, Liberty Common High School
The Enduring and Timely Wonder of C.S. Lewis’s Life and Work
C.S. Lewis has sparked delight and clarity for so many people of different ages, traditions, and convictions.  Why?  Mr. Dybzinski will walk through highlights from Lewis’s life and works as well as highlights from his own reading experiences of Lewis in order to reflect on this appeal and what it means for our own reading, thinking, and living.


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