Great Books Symposium 2022 – Thinking about love

Sep 6, 2022 | Announcements, News & Media

05 September 2022: Which classic texts think most deeply about love? Is love the material of comedy or tragedy: of drama? Or is it a higher state of being only accessible via intense philosophical examination?

Last week the Ramsay Centre hosted our 2022 Great Books Symposium ‘Thinking about love’ and selected Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Plato’s The Symposium as texts for lively and critical roundtable discussion.

The event was hosted by Ramsay Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines and attended by a roundtable of guests, predominately drawn from academia and education. Participants included teachers of our undergraduate Western civilisation courses from our three partner universities.

The full-day symposium was split into three sessions, enabling discussion of each title individually, followed by a combined discussion of the texts.

Three senior lecturers from our western civilisation degree programs provided discussion starters for each session:

  • Dr Jennifer Clement, a senior English literature lecturer from the University of Queensland, offered introductory remarks on Romeo and Juliet
  • Dr Kishore Saval, a senior lecturer at Australian Catholic University, kicked off discussion of The Symposium
  • Dr Julian Lamb, a senior lecturer from the University of Wollongong, suggested how we might begin to approach comparisons of the two works.

Professor Haines said that individually the two works were compelling studies of what it means to love and be human. However, he said it was challenging to examine the two works alongside one another to see what insights they offered as a combined study.

‘These are two of the most celebrated pieces of ‘thinking about love’ in the western tradition, by arguably its greatest poet and philosopher/s. So, whatever we make of them separately or together, and whatever else they say in other works (Phaedrus in one case, several more plays in the other), what they differentially say on this subject in these works has to be taken very seriously: as something that cannot possibly be ignored and probably informs much of what we still think about it and much else. Including the nature of the self in general.’

Our 2022 Great Books Symposium is the first symposium the Centre has hosted since 2019 due to COVID. Our 2019 symposium looked at ‘Morality in Public Affairs’ through examination of four Great Works: Machiavelli’s The Prince, Hobbes’s Leviathan, Shakespeare’s Richard II, and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Our next symposium will be held in 2023. If you would like to receive invitations to our Ramsay Socratic Symposia please send an email to and include your name, company, telephone number and email address. Numbers are strictly limited.

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/

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