April 28-30, 2023
One of the major events of the year for the Great Books Council of San Francisco is the spring weekend at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California, titled The Barbara McConnell Weekend at Asilomar in honor of a beloved Great Books leader. During the weekend there are discussions of poetry, a work of nonfiction, a work of theatre and a work of fiction. The beauty of the area is conducive to stimulating discussions and convivial parties.
We return to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula each spring to immerse ourselves in a weekend of provocative readings, engaging discussions and in-person camaraderie!
The Barbara McConnell Great Books Weekend will return to Asilomar on April 28-30, 2023.
This year we'll again discuss controversial yet timely works and poetry selections that span centuries of writing but explore enduring issues.
Once again this year, we'll offer special pricing and discounts for the event. Registration details will be available here soon.
We'll kick off the weekend on Friday evening with some intense and challenging poetry by Randall Jarrell, John Donne, Pablo Neruda, and Rebecca Foust.
On Saturday morning, the non-fiction discussion will feature two essays by Ayn Rand: How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society; and Racism.
The weekend's fiction discussion will be Arundhati Roy's 1997 Booker-prize-winning novel The God of Small Things, a brilliant examination of the after-effects of the caste system on India's modern society.
Finally, we'll reach back to 1779 for the play: Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. This fervent plea for religious tolerance was never performed during Lessing's lifetime, but since then it has been performed at the Vatican, and it is taught today in international conflict courses worldwide.
During Asilomar weekends in recent years we've discussed the plays Lysistrata, W;t, The Possessed, and The Iceman Cometh; works of fiction Letters From the Earth, Never Let Me Go, Miguel Street, and The Left Hand of Darkness; and nonfiction works by Azar Nafisi; Machiavelli, C.P. Snow, and W.E.B. Du Bois; as well as selected poetry. To see a full list of what's been discussed during our 50+ years at Asilomar, please click this past discussion list.