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Great Books Seminar

Engaging with Greatest Minds

Recommended for: 8+ graders (advanced 7th graders welcome) 


Course Schedule:

Spring Qtr: Jan./Feb. - April | Summer Qtr: June/July - Aug.

Fall Qtr: Sept. - Nov. | Winter Qtr: Nov. - Jan.

In-Class Instruction Time: 10 hours 

Program Overview

This course aims to help students grow into highly capable readers and writers who excel in academic studies and future careers. It selects challenging classical and modern texts to guide students to enter sophisticated conversations, grapple with complex ideas, and build intimate connections with great minds. In small discussion-based seminars, students learn and practice the art of oral argument and dialogue. The instructor will ask probing questions that inspire students to develop unique perspectives and embark on a life-long intellectual expedition.

Based on the in-depth analysis of good writing, this course creates a range of opportunities for students to develop writing proficiency across genres, media, and contexts. Students will expect to write regularly and receive one-on-one guidance on all aspects of writing. There will be three writing-focused classes during the entire course. Through close reading, revised writing, and engaged discussion, students will learn to use writing as a powerful tool for reflection and expression as well as as a means of engaging with and moving the world. 

Students can anticipate 1-2 hours of weekly homework, including readings and writing projects. Throughout the course, the mentor offers essential oral feedback on writing and written feedback at the end of each multi-phase project. 

Mentor #1: Dr. Kemick

Ph.D. in Creative Writing
Award-winning poet, journalist, and fiction writer


Dr. Kemick is an award-winning poet, journalist, and fiction writer. His new nonfiction book, I Am Herod, takes readers backstage and undercover at one of the world’s largest religious events. He is also the author of Caribou Run, a collection of poetry.


Dr. Kemick has published widely in all three genres, and his work has been included in anthologies in North America and Europe. He is the recipient of multiple awards including two National Magazine Awards.


Personal Essay Writing Essentials | Cracking Shakespeare | Great Books Seminar | Short Stories Seminar | REvision Workshop

Mentor #2: Dr. Prusko

Dr. Prusko is a university educator with over two decades’ experience teaching literature, writing, and communications courses. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She is the recipient of a Faculty of Arts Teaching Award and the William Hardy Alexander Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. While teaching is her main focus, she also researches and publishes in the areas of Shakespeare, early modern drama, and children’s literature.


Analytical Writing Essentials | When Technology Meets the Humanities | Cracking Shakespeare | Great Books Seminar | Short Stories Seminar | REvision Workshop

Ph.D. in English

Award-winning university educator

Shakespearean/early modern drama/children's literature scholar

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Class Demo

Sample Readings

Barrie, J. M.: Peter and Wendy

Brecht, Bertolt: Life Of Galileo 

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Master and Margarita 

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness​

Davies, ​Robertson: The Rebel Angels

D'Ormesson, Jean: The Glory of the Empire 

Edugyan, ​Esi: Half-Blood Blues

Frazier, Charles: Cold Mountain

Galloway, Steven: The Cellist of Sarajevo 

Golding, William: Lord of the Flies

Guin, Ursula K. Le: Lavinia

Gutmann, ​Amy: The Lives of Animals 

Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go

Joyce, James: Ulysses

Kesey, Ken: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Mandel, Emily St. John: Station Eleven

Marlowe, Christopher: Dr. Faustus

McCarthy, Cormac: All the Pretty Horses

Munro, Alice: The View from Castle Rock

Shakespeare, William:

  • Antony and Cleopatra

  • As You Like It

  • Measure for Measure

  • Henry IV, Part 1

  • King Lear

  • Othello

  • Richard II

  • The Tempest 

Shapcott, Jo: Of Mutability

Shelly, Mary Wollstonecraft: Frankenstein

Tolkien, J. R. R.: The Hobbit

Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughterhouse-Five

Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Williams, John: Augustus 

Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway


*Dr. Kemick*

"I enjoyed the much more in-depth and challenging discussion about the subjects. It was unbelievably helpful and really opened my eyes to what I could write. As for the instructor, I have never had an instructor or English teacher as compassionate, patient, knowledgeable, and articulate as Dr. Kemick. He has definitely played a big role in my writing journey, and has brought forth so many new ideas and thought processes to the table."


“I enjoyed the discussions and the questions that he asked us to answer and because I was doing it with my friends it made it more fun to talk and collaborate. The assignments that were assigned were very different than what I'm used to, but I really enjoyed them because they were creative writing. Our instructor Mr. Kemick is really nice and honestly makes you feel welcome to talk and he was fun to listen to. He makes us answer questions so we can teach each other.”


"​I did enjoy the course; I really liked how flexible it was and how the instructor would adjust the syllabus based on our personal needs and always asked for our opinions on homework assignments and reading material. The instructor’s greatest strengths were the questions he asked us during class to lead us into further understanding and interpreting a certain story or article, since it really forced us to think deeper and process what we were reading, and it also taught us that in the future, we can ask those questions to ourselves to help digest a piece of writing. I also particularly liked how he would give us very straight-to-the-point feedback, both good and bad, to help us realize our shortcomings and help us improve for next time."​

"I really enjoyed the deep and thoughtful conversations that we had on the different books.  This class really was an eye opener into the world of classical literature and I liked the variety of books that we were able to read and discuss.  Dr. Kemick is phenomenal at encouraging conversation and deep thinking."

"I really enjoyed the course in general. The teacher made me look forward to the classes each week, and on top of that, I learned a ton of new information. I think the course was pretty much perfect, and I do not have any suggestions for how to improve it."


"I enjoyed this course. Dr. Kemick was very straightforward in letting me know what he wanted. His methods are clear, concise, and easy to understand. In my opinion, his lack of sugarcoating is one of his strengths. His lessons were beneficial for letting me write more descriptive essays"

"Mr. Kenwick is a very experienced instructor. He is good at engaging his students to participate in class discussion and delivering the lecture in a way which won’t make his audience feel bored. My daughter enjoyed attending his class."

*Dr. Prusko*

“Dr. Prusko embraces and celebrates innovative and novel ideas, which allows her students to truly thrive in their own explorations of literature. She has been a huge inspiration in both the academic and personal facets of my life.”

“The writing methods she introduced have proven to be invaluable across a variety of subjects and situations; when my friends are struggling with their writing, I recommend the techniques I learned from Dr. Prusko. Her enthusiasm and skill are truly remarkable.”

“I absolutely loved this course. Dr. Prusko is an amazing teacher who really cares about her students and takes time to make sure they understand the material. She is always willing to help and provide constructive feedback and is great at promoting class community and discussion.”

“Dr. Prusko is an incredible teacher and clearly knowledgeable and passionate about literature. Her class was challenging, but she provided constructive and helpful feedback and really encouraged us to do our best. She encouraged class discussions which were always interesting and helpful to the topic we were discussing.”

“I found myself working hard in this class because I felt compelled by the topic, and because I felt Dr. Prusko was very invested in our advancement in the class.”

“I think that the way Dr. Prusko is prepared, honest, humorous, and knowledgeable made learning more interesting and I enjoyed it. She was easily my best teacher.”

**Ms. Klippenstein**

“I really enjoyed Ms. Klippenstein’s class and would definitely recommend other students to take it. The readings were interesting and stimulating. They included a variety of styles like science fiction and graphic novel, which helped tremendously in getting me to understand and analyze different types of literature.” 

“Fantastic course. The readings were intriguing and I read some things that I otherwise would have no opportunity to read at all. Through peer review and one-on-one conferences with the teacher, I became confident writing essays. I also felt encouraged to express my ideas in the seminar. I would recommend Ms. Klippenstein’s course to all my friends.” 

“The course was very interesting and the materials thought-provoking. Ms. Klippenstein was actively engaged during class discussion. I feel my own writing definitely improved, as I was forced out of my comfort zone to write in styles I wasn’t always familiar with. We had to think specifically about the audience of our writing.”

"I really loved how the course had both lectures and workshops. It was so informative and helpful reading other people’s stories and seeing how their creative minds worked. Ms. Klippenstein also ran her lectures a lot like a discussion section and it was such an open and friendly atmosphere!” 

“Ms. Klippenstein is absolutely amazing, one of my favorite teachers. She makes class interesting and pushes us to become better writers.”

"Ms. Klippenstein is an amazing teacher. The course material was super fun. Her comments on my paper were very constructive and helped me do better on the next ones." 

“Ms. Klippenstein did an excellent job making the course assignments manageable and interesting—I truly felt my time doing the work was well spent.” 

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