Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Monterey Peninsula College campuses have been closed until further notice. MPC classes and student support services will be offered fully online.

 Great Books Speaker Event - Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts!

 elliot event

 Come and listen to our guest speaker!

MPC Great Books Scholar 2018 Featured on Short Film 

Nolan Beck, recent MPC Great Books Scholar, was featured on a short film about photography. The short film, titled "Sharing the Light," includes interviews with Bob Kolbrener, a student of Ansel Adams. and now mentor of Nolan.  Beautifully done, the film is in many ways more about life and living than about photography.  It makes one realize the similarities of the photography described to the slow and meaningful cadence of reading a Great Book. Take a look here:


Sharing The Light from Aether Films on Vimeo.


MPC Great Books Program Presents John Berteaux

The MPC Great Books Program featured Professor of Philosophy and writer Dr. John Berteaux for its annual Great Books Conversations speaker event. Dr. John Berteaux's speech was entitled "The Great Books as Food for Thought." If you missed it, you can view it here.  Also, take a look at a relevant op-ed he wrote called "Economism."



John Berteaux received a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of California at San Diego in 1999.  He is a retired Professor of Philosophy at California State University Monterey Bay.  He has taught in the Dimensions of Culture Program at the University of California at San Diego, the Department of Philosophy at San Diego State University, and The School of Humanities and Communication at California State University Monterey Bay.  His research specializations are ethics and political philosophy, with a focus on race and the liberal tradition.  John's most recent publication is "Black France, Black America: Engaging Historical Narratives," an article for the interdisciplinary journal Cosmopolitan Civil Societies.

MPC Great Books Program Featured 

Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English at Emory University and writer, recently interviewed students and faculty at MPC's Great Books Program. Read what he has to say here: "Dissenters From Disenchantment."

A few quotes from the piece: 

Monterey Peninsula College is a two-year school in California. Students in the Great Books Program there don’t want to live in a disenchanted world. They told me so last month, when I spent a day interviewing them and their teachers. Some followed up on email. No­body mentioned disenchantment—that’s my term—but they expressed meager yearning for the material success that so many students have made an end in itself. Some are young, not long out of high school. Some are middle-aged, with a career in the military or health care behind them, others elderly and looking for diversion. At Monterey Peninsula, students may pursue a certificate in massage therapy or enroll in “Business 30: Global Management” or “Career Planning Throughout the Lifespan,” but these students preferred “Introduction to Great Books” and “Great Books and Civil Liberties.”


Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur seem a long way from misery. The college campus sits on a hill above the glorious bay. History doesn’t extend much further than Steinbeck, Monterey Pop, and Monterey Jack cheese. Remnants of the counterculture blend with sky-high property values. But the students, one teacher said, “feel a companionship with Antigone.” They don’t need authors to “represent” them; they don’t have any problem with “difference” at all. They admire talent and insight and fortitude. A student, a white man in his fifties, likes the “greatness” of the works, but highlighted the un-great circumstances of many writers (Epictetus born a slave, Boethius dying in prison, Cervantes enslaved and tortured by Muslim pirates). A young Hispanic woman aiming for a career in social welfare admits that she loves Ayn Rand’s early novella Anthem, though she rejects Rand’s libertar­ianism entirely. In fact, she thinks a great books course should be required of all students: “They’re craving it,” though they may not realize it until they get a taste of the quality and depth of the discussion.

These [students] are not elite people. Perhaps that’s why they seem to recognize the old justification for great books programs, a socio-political one. Ever since the 1980s, great books have been associated with Eurocentric superiority, the per­petuation of an inequitable society. But before that, great books courses were justified on opposite grounds. Not to teach working-class kids the heritage of Western thought and serious literature was to deprive them of crucial tools of uplift. Culture illiteracy was, progressives argued, a way to keep the people down.


What I see at Monterey Peninsula reflects an abiding truth. Young and old adults spend their energy on great books because they want depth, they want magnificence; things that have lingered for three hundred years, words quoted again and again, characters imitated by thousands of real people. Young men all across Germany started dressing like Werther because Goethe made his sad story an exalted one. They wanted to be exalted, too. As a bearded guy in his late twenties said before photographing me with his 1940s Graflex press camera, “Great books are where the ideas are; that’s where history is made.” The rushing surface of social media is one thing, the unchanging seven-hundred-year-old verses of Inferno another.

Those who read great books at Monterey know they’ll never be like the youths portrayed in The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids (2008), high schoolers who pile up AP courses and absolutely must get into Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. The Monterey students prefer great conversationalists, Ovid and Jane Austen, not Facebook friends. They are dissenters from disenchantment, looking for another kind of success. …. 

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