University of Chicago Hyde Park Campus

Basic Program of Liberal Education

Basic Program Symposium

Important Dates

Registration closes for Summer 2021 eight and ten-week courses (Basic Program, Open Enrollment, Writer's Studio, Visual Arts)

Basic Program Symposium

The Basic Program Symposium is a deep dive into a text or topic that expands on our curriculum and that has a particular resonance in today’s world.

Basic Program Symposium Winter 2021 
Saturday, March 20 
9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT


White Marble Bust of Plato

Plato in his own voice? The Seventh Letter vs. the Dialogues
The impact of the Seventh Letter on interpreting Plato’s dialogues

Plato never writes in his own voice—except in his letters. The Seventh Letter is longer than the others put together. Although very little attention has been paid to it, and its authenticity questioned, there is general agreement that it is a fourth century BCE document, or at latest early third. I take the view that people generally pay little attention to this text because it might induce them to change their views of Plato, and his Dialogues. I take the position that this text requires us to change our views. It will not give us a radically new view of Plato and his work, but on some particular but critical points it makes a great difference.

Instructor Bio:

James M. RedfieldEdward Olson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Classical Languages and Literatures, of Social Thought, Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World, and in the College, the University of Chicago 

James M. Redfield has written Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector; The Locrian Maidens: Love and Death in Greek Italy and articles on Homer, Herodotus, Plato, and Greek society. His teaching is focused on Greek language, literature, and social history as they can be understood in the light of theory drawn from modern linguistics and anthropology.