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Events and Learning Cohorts

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Learning Cohort: Divine Encounters—Great Spiritual Autobiographies

Fri 01.22.21 @ 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM CST

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This monthly reading group will explore the fascinating spiritual autobiographies of four major figures in the history of Western Christianity spanning the ancient world to the twentieth century. We will read the life stories of the North African bishop and church father St. Augustine, the Spanish mystic St. Teresa of Ávila, the English slave-trader-turned-abolitionist John Newton, and the American social activist Dorothy Day.

Brief recorded talks by the cohort leader will set each text in historical context and highlight key themes. Then we’ll gather once per month to discuss the autobiographies, considering them as works of literature and testimonies to how these authors experienced God in their lives, while also asking what they have to say to us today.

Who is the Cohort for?

This cohort is for students, faculty, ministry leaders, and community members who love to read and who want to explore how the lives of Christians in the past can speak to us in the present. The only prerequisites are a curious mind, a commitment to read, and a desire to discuss.

Frequency and Duration 

This cohort will meet four times on Friday mornings from 7:30-9:00 AM. Participants are expected to attend at least three out of the four discussions.

January 22 | Confessions by Saint Augustine

February 19 | The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself

March 19 | An Authentic Narrative of Some Remarkable Particulars in the Life of John Newton

April 16 | The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day

Meetings will begin on Zoom and move to in-person at Upper House if and when conditions allow.

Cohort Capacity

10 participants. Registration will close when full.

Cohort Leader

Eric Carlsson ( is Fellows Program Director at Upper House and Lecturer in History and Religious Studies at UW-Madison, where he teaches a range of courses in European intellectual history and the history of Christianity.

Resources Required

Participants will be asked to purchase their own copies of the following editions:

Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford University Press, 1992)

The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself, trans. J. M. Cohen (Penguin Books, 1957)

The Life and Spirituality of John Newton, ed. Bruce Hindmarsh (Regent College Publishing, 1998)

Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness (HarperCollins, 1997)





Fri 01.22.21
7:30 AM - 9:00 AM CST
Event Categories:


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