Great Books Seminar 

“The mind is not an empty vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

Level 1: Grade 8 - Grade 10

Level 2: Graduating Seniors 


Class Schedule

  • 60 or 90-min weekly seminar (2-4 students per group)

2021 Spring Sessions (Pacific Time)

  • All sessions are full. 

2021 Summer Sessions: TBD

Contact us to arrange a class or to be notified of open slots.

Program Overview

The inquiry-based weekly Great Books Seminar uses both classical and modern texts, such as William Shakespeare’s plays and Virginia Woolf’s novels, to help students build intimate connections with the great minds in human history. In line with the student-centered philosophy, the selection of texts varies based on students’ individual interests. 

In lively seminar-style conversations, the instructor will ask probing questions that inspire students to develop new perspectives and insights into themselves and the world they live in. In a community of learning, students will form a humanistic mindset and embark on a life-long intellectual expedition. 

The skills and habits honed by the program — careful observation, close analysis, effective argument, imaginative comparison, openness to ideas, and global vision — provide a solid foundation for students to succeed in the complex and changing world. 

Instructor #1: Dr. Kemick

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.

PhD. in English/Creative Writing

Instructor #2: Dr. Prusko

PhD. in English

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.

Sample Readings

Barrie, J. M.: Peter and Wendy

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Master and Margarita 

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness​

D'Ormesson, Jean: The Glory of the Empire 

Munro, Alice: The View from Castle Rock

Frazier, Charles: Cold Mountain

Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go

Marlowe, Christopher: Dr. Faustus

McCarthy, Cormac: All the Pretty Horses

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

Tolkien, J. R. R.: The Hobbit

Williams, John: Augustus 

Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Homework & Feedback

The class will be structured around a close-reading of selected texts and a discussion of the complex questions they raise. The student will compose different writings that present a thoughtful, reflective exploration of each text for the instructor to critique. The student will also be encouraged to memorize and recite great literature pieces to learn and improve English writing. Regular feedback on the student's class performance will be provided throughout the course.


*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. Richard 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 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."

"I enjoyed the part where the instructor would go over our homework in class and give feedback. The instructor was very clear which made it easy to understand."

*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.”