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Reports: Our 2017 Summer School

By 7 May 2017July 17th, 2017All Posts

Experience the England of Tolkien, Chesterton, and Newman

© John Hesla 2016

“A student who loves J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, or Cardinal Newman or G.K. Chesterton, would naturally wish at some point to visit England, and come to Oxford, and see the places where these men lived and wrote their works of genius. And there would be no better way of starting such a journey, and of seeing all the important places guided by friends of those authors, than to attend the Second Spring Summer School in early August. The visitor will immediately feel at home, and the guides will ensure that the sights seen will take on deeper meaning. I recommend this summer school to all young Americans, and to others of every age and notion.”

—Robert Moynihan, Editor, Inside the Vatican

This summer we are teaming up with the marvellous Benedictus Liberal Arts Trust, and our friends at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, to bring you a unique summer course of study and sightseeing in London and Oxford.

“Art, Culture, & Faith” will run from 1–15th August (with an optional precursory week in New Hampshire for American undergraduates). The course will begin in London working with the Benedictus formula of classroom seminars and lecture visits to galleries and museums with a focus on philosophy and material culture. Themes explored include the faith in transition from medieval to early modern culture and the Northern Renaissance. We will then transfer to Oxford for the Second Spring module of the two-week programme where classes and excursions will concentrate on literature and history, tracing the cultural impact of the Reformation and the revival of Catholic faith and culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will study the interconnecting themes of Art, Culture, and Faith through philosophy, theology, history, literature and the arts; examining the milestones, both intellectual and cultural, that have marked the development of our culture; from the classical past to Catholic Europe; from Plato and More to Raphael and Tolkien.

We are excited to be collaborating with Benedictus, who hope to found the first Liberal Arts college for undergraduates in the UK. Their project started life in 2010, when Dr Clare Hornsby, whose academic background lies in art and cultural history, initiated the project with academic colleagues: the fruit of discussions between them resulted in the drafting of the Matters of Principle in early 2011. This document owes much to The Idea of a University by the great 19th century educator John Henry Newman and acknowledges the “Blue Book”, the foundation text of Thomas Aquinas College, California. They were inspired by the idea of creating a truly meaningful interdisciplinarity in education, where Christianity is given its rightful place as the unifying factor in the development of European civilisation. Benedictus is also a response to the challenge of Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a “New Evangelization” in Europe through education.

The faculty for this year’s joint summer school includes Dr Clare Hornsby, Léonie Caldecott, Dr Gerard Kilroy, Rev. Dr U. M. Lang, c.o., Prof. Guido Milanese, Dr Michael Ward, Matthew O’Keeffe, Miguel Ayres de Campos, Sebastian Morello, and Roy Peachey. Whether you have just left school, are studying at university, or are a “student of life” who is keen to discover some of the riches of western Europe in its philosophy, literature, art and music, then this course is for you. Don’t take it from us though, here are some of the things participants have said of previous years:

“It made the thought of Newman, Chesterton, Hopkins, Lewis etc., come alive for me: to walk the same streets and roam the same countryside haunts as those we studied opened up, to me, the ways in which the lived experiences of everyday life are where “Christ plays” in our hearts and minds.”

“It is one thing to merely read the words of Chesterton, Tolkien, and Shakespeare, and quite another thing to be awakened to the faith and uniquely English culture that shapes their works. I went anticipating a rich literary experience of which I only had a fuzzy concept, and left with a clearer understanding and a greater love for my language, having seen it through a fresh lens in a new setting.”

“The Oxford Programme gave me the chance to become further acquainted with men of letters who not only suffered for their faith, but fought against secular ideology in the way that was only made possible through their studies—their pursuit of truth. Most of these men, Thomas More, Edmund Campion, and Newman, for example, studied at Oxford. To consider their work and lives in Oxford, under the gracious guidance of the Caldecotts was an inspiring start to my last year at [college].”

“The lecturers were great, all of them.”

“The speakers were spectacular.”

“Never a dull moment…. Perfect balance of classroom lectures and adventuring.”

“The events, days, transportation were very well-organised…. The lectures were fascinating. I enjoyed all of them, and learned much.”

“I loved every minute of it!”


To learn more about the summer school and to apply, please visit

But move quickly! Bookings close at the end of May.

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