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Magdalen College: From the Summit

Education Podcasts

Engaging conversations with faculty and friends of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts about culture, books, teaching, and the Catholic life.

Engaging conversations with faculty and friends of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts about culture, books, teaching, and the Catholic life.


United States


Engaging conversations with faculty and friends of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts about culture, books, teaching, and the Catholic life.




Dr. Anthony Esolen on Sex and the Unreal City

In this episode Dr. Anthony Esolen discusses his book Sex and the Unreal City. When it comes to the way modern western culture approaches sex, what are the main idols that shape the moral conversation? Why is consent not enough? In what ways is it unjust to presume that men and women are equal in their physical embodiment? What should the Church do to help young people in the midst of this confusion? These are just some of the questions that Dr. Esolen addresses. Listen to find out why the...


12 Things That Stood Out About Holy Week

The liturgies of Holy Week are immensely beautiful, meaningful, and profound. Engaging in them, especially as a community, can help us gain fresh insights about the Christian faith. In this episode, Dr. Ryan Messmore reflects on 12 things that stood out to him during his own Holy Week journey. From joining the crowd shouting "Hosannah" on Palm Sunday, to hearing the rumbling thunder at Wednesday’s Tenebrae, to Thursday’s foot-washing and the guarding the tomb of repose, to the music, lights,...


How the Church Has Changed the World: An Interview with Anthony Esolen

So much that we take for granted in the modern world is actually due to the Christian Church. From hospitals, to scientific discoveries, to universities, the Christian faith has made a significant contribution to the way of life we enjoy today. In this episode, Dr. Ryan Messmore interviews Dr. Anthony Esolen about a series of articles he wrote for Magnificat cataloguing How the Church Has Changed the World, especially concerning teaching and learning. They also discuss Dr. Esolen’s new...


Jolting Ourselves Out of Auto-pilot Discipleship: An Interview with Dr. Eric Buck

In this episode, Dr. Eric Buck talks about how he asks hard questions of himself and his students to encourage them out of “mindless automaticity” in their thinking and their faith. How can we bring the commands of Christ into our ordinary routines without losing a sense of wonder and intensity in our discipleship? Dr. Buck explains how, if you are open at all to God’s wonderous creation, everything can be an object of fascination. Tune in to learn how this approach to life led him to become...


Never Seen Anything Like This: Anthony Esolen on Medieval Poetry and Modernist Art

In this episode, President Messmore interviews Dr. Anthony Esolen about the literary treasures he is currently teaching at Magdalen. What makes this conversation special is Dr. Esolen's uncontainable enthusiasm for the beauty he sees in works such as the Gawain Poet's masterpiece, "Pearl". The inspiration Dr. Esolen gains and conveys from this poem–which he claims "sent him to school"–is contagious. The conversation turns to modernist art, focusing on the Coventry Cathedral and a sculpture...


JPII and Education—How the Pope Would’ve ‘Made Himself at Home’ at Magdalen

In this interview, Dr. Ryan Messmore discusses his recent webinar on why John Paul II would love to be a student at Magdalen College. Learn how the would-be pope pursued seminary education underground when it became outlawed in Poland by the Nazis. Find out how JPII’s love of the theater and the outdoors shaped his views of culture and community. And hear how JPII would have made himself at home with the sense of “hygge”—a Danish term for coziness and comradery—that Magdalen’s size and...


Reading Big Books: A Conversation with Magdalen’s Dr. Mary Mumbach

In this episode, Magdalen professor of literature, Dr. Mary Mumbach, stops by the studio. A stellar literary critic, Dr. Mumbach brings a wealth of experience and love to her subject and her students. Click play to learn why she encourages students to read books quickly, her opinions on literary theory, why big books are worth reading, and why over-analyzation can hinder understanding.


In the Beginning was the Word: Anthony Esolen and his new Book on the Prologue of John

Dr. Anthony Esolen calls it "the most influential paragraph in the history of man". This explains, in part, why he wrote his most recent book on the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel. In this episode, Dr. Messmore interviews Dr. Esolen about In the Beginning was the Word. Click "play" to find out why Esolen believes that this section of Scripture is and should be read at the end of Mass, what role Hebrew poetry played in its creation, how John weaves together different motifs like a braid, and...


When the Earth was Flat: A Conversation with Dr. Jordan Almanzar

In this episode, President Messmore interviews Magdalen professor Dr. Almanzar about his new book "When the Earth was Flat"–a work Anthony Esolen calls "The best book about boyhood I have ever read." The pair discuss motivations for writing, why the provocative title, personhood and originality, homeschooling in small-town USA, growing up before the internet, technology as a distraction, and so much more. Click play to enter a world of nostalgia as we reflect on a time gone by. To order a...


Arresting Glimpses of Beauty: Josef Pieper on Contemplation, Technology, and Joy

In this episode, Dr. Ryan Messmore interviews Magdalen's Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Erik van Versendaal. The two discuss the need to recover the art of contemplation, which leads to a disposition of praise and joy. They highlight how important it is to attend carefully to the beauty that surrounds us, and how to overcome challenges to this in the modern world. How is good dialogue a fundamental experience of contemplation? How does festivity and celebration help tune us to the reality of...


The Power and Truth of Myth: Tolkien, Chesterton, and Lewis

Two Magdalen students join Dr. Messmore in the studio to discuss the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis. Andrew Kays and Luke Sherman explore the role of Christian fiction in advancing Christ’s mission in the world. To what extent did Tolkien, Chesterton, and Lewis make use of allegory? Why did they think that fantasy helps us to rediscover the world’s beauty? How does reading myth fit a college’s mission of seeking truth? This historic episode will deepen your...


Higher Education Today: Anthony Esolen Assesses the Modern University

The origin of words can provide important insights about their meaning. Where do the words “college” and “university” come from, and how has their meaning changed over the years? What has the modern university become, and why does it so often fail to offer a truly liberating education? Magdalen Professor Anthony Esolen discusses these questions and suggests what families should look for when choosing a college. He also takes listeners inside his own process of preparing for and teaching a...


Why The Trinity?: Dr. Messmore Discusses Consecrating Magdalen College to the Triune God

If the doctrine of the Trinity were dropped as false, how would your daily faith and life be different? In this episode, Dr. Almanzar interviews President Messmore on the College's recent consecration to the Blessed Trinity. What is a consecration, why consecrate a college to the Trinity, why is this doctrine important for understanding the nature of God as love, and what are the implications for us? These are just some of the questions addressed in this episode, which also includes a brief...


Poetry and the Music of Language

Magdalen Professor Anthony Esolen argues that we need to tune our ears to what he calls “the music of language.” Such music enables poetry to do things that other forms of written communication cannot do. Listen to Dr. Esolen explain what has gone wrong with poetry in the modern age, and hear him discuss some of his own poems about creation, Pentecost, the horror of sin, and the joyful innocence of heaven. Also, learn why he—and Dante—use no other word to rhyme with “Christ”!


Freedom on a Mountain: Anthony Esolen with Ryan Messmore

In this episode, Anthony Esolen, Professor and Writer-in-residence at Magdalen College is interviewed by President Ryan Messmore. They discuss Dr. Esolen's recent article in The Catholic Thing about how students find freedom on our mountain home of Mt. Kearsarge, NH. What is true freedom? How is freedom related to the notion of telos or purpose? And why is it liberating for students to study works by authors who followed Christ as well as those who didn’t?


The Logos Who Is Love: An Interview with Magdalen President Ryan Messmore

In this episode, Dr. Messmore discusses the academic mission of Magdalen College, explaining why it’s so important to see the world as being created by the Logos who is Love.


Solidarity: An Interview with Academic Dean Brian FitzGerald

In this episode, Dr. Messmore interviews Dr. FitzGerald about his background and journey to becoming Magdalen's Academic Dean. The two discuss the recent First Things Intellectual Retreat, which is held each summer in New York City with Magdalen College faculty members leading the seminars. This year's theme was "Solidarity", and Messmore and FitzGerald revisit some of the questions and insights that stemmed from the retreat.


Podcast Relaunch: An Interview with the New President of Magdalen

In this inaugural episode, Dr. Ryan Messmore sits down for an interview about relaunching the podcast and beginning a new year at Magdalen. President Messmore delivers a message of hope along with updates about many of the exciting things that are happening at the College. Stay tuned for the next episode with our academic dean, Dr. FitzGerald, and regular interviews with Dr. Anthony Esolen.


“On Teaching and Translating Dante” (Anthony Esolen Episode 9)

“Dante and Shakespeare divide the world. There is no third.”—T.S. Eliot In this conversation, Anthony Esolen discusses his experiences reading Dante as an undergraduate, translating the great poet, and teaching the Commedia to undergraduates in turn. What prompted him to begin translating Dante? What was the hierarchy of values that guided him in the work of translation? He also offers commentary on the great Princeton professor—a scholar of Dante and Boccaccio—Robert Hollander—and...


"The Power of the Powerless" (Anthony Esolen Episode 8)

"The human things come first." Anthony Esolen discusses his reading and teaching of Václav Havel's "Power of the Powerless" (with asides on Hannah Arendt and C.S. Lewis) and the dangers of "political knitting clubs." He also considers the parallels between excellent brewing and excellent teaching while also noting how the Catholic faith and liberal education be taken up for ideological reasons. Finally, he introduces and reads his dramatic-epistolary monologue "Saint Paul to Gamaliel" from...