Fall 2023

Course offerings for the Fall Term 2023 include selections in Classics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Writing.

Courses may take place in person, on Zoom, or in a hybrid format where participants can choose whether to participate in person or on Zoom for the same course. The location listings on this page will remain up-to-date.


Through the Kaleidoscope of Colours

12 weeks, Mondays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Scientists and artists have been fascinated by colour and its properties for centuries. Is colour an objective property of things, or of the light that bounces off them? We know that  without light there is no colour.

This course will explore the following beguiling questions about colour: What is synesthesia? That is, why do some people see colours when they hear music, as the artist Wassily Kandinsky did? How does a painting that consists of swaths of  colour on a large canvas bring us to reflect on the sacred as Mark Rothko's paintings do? How have colours inspired poets, writers, painters, and filmmakers? Would a Wes Anderson film look the same without its daring use of colour? Why is the colorization of black and white classic movies controversial? Why do some cultures only have a handful of names for colours, and does this affect their perception of colours? What impact might this have on their experience of poetry that references colours?


Please call 514-935-9585 or e-mail info@thomasmore.qc.ca if you are interested in being added to the waitlist for this course. You will be contacted if space opens up.


Julius Caesar and Augustus Transform Rome: The Fall of the Republic

12 weeks, Tuesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

The first part of this consideration of the dynasty of the Caesars in ancient Rome looks at Julius Caesar's role in the fall of the Roman Republic. 

Who was Julius Caesar? How did he bring down the Roman Republic, which had survived many centuries of turmoil? Was the Republic really corrupted beyond redemption, as he and his allies claimed? Who were the republican leaders at the time of Caesar’s rise? Were the Roman citizens better off with Caesar than with the republicans? What were the exact circumstances of Caesar’s revolution? 

By looking at Caesar’s Commentary on the Gallic War, Suetonius’s and Plutarch’s Lives, and the political speeches of Cicero and other contemporary poets and writers like Lucan and Catullus, we will examine what led to the end of 600 years of a political regime that created institutions still with us today.


Love in the Italian Renaissance: From Dante to Tasso

12 weeks, Thursdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.
**Atwater or Online**

Love can be seen as a defining feature of what it means to be human. As relational beings we seek to love and be loved by those in our lives. Th is is no more evident than in the works of the poets, authors, and philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. Th is course will explore the ideals of Italian humanism.Why was there such a division in perceptions of love, with some seeing it as an illness to be overcome and others as a means of transcendence and apotheosis? Did these authors classify love as an experience thrust upon us without our control, or see it as an emotion that could be tempered? Does the nature of the love depicted, whether mutual or unrequited, change the impact of the work? What are the implications of writing works of love dedicated to someone who does not requite it? Finally, how did the sharing of ideas, and the patronage by the wealthy, help foster a culture that critically engaged with, and expressed, such personal aspects of life?


Mayhem and Murder: The File on Philip Marlowe

12 weeks, Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” The man in question is the tough yet chivalrous private eye Philip Marlowe who lives on the pages of the hardboiled novels of his creator Raymond Chandler. The novels evoke the mayhem and murder in the Los Angeles of the nineteen thirties and early forties. In creating Marlowe and his milieu, Chandler shifted the emphasis in the detective novel from  solving a mystery to confronting the ambiguities and uncertainties of the chase. What prompted Chandler to consciously transform this lesser genre? How did his innovative treatment of ambience, character, and everyday lingo—still imitated in fiction and film—elevate its tone? Is it his literary achievement or is it his  bleak but powerful—even prophetic—vision of American society that sustains our interest in his work today?

Modernism in Literature: 1910-1960

12 weeks, Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The writers of the Modernist movement of the early and mid 20th century changed the face of literature forever. Stylistically, Modernist writing featured an emphasis on experimentation, objectivity, and a multi-layered, symbolic reading of texts. Philosophically, the writers focused on the individual by exploring the psychology of the self and by foregrounding the existential concerns relating to one’s place in a fragmented and absurd universe. This course will explore the following questions: What are some of the similar concerns in the works of the early Modernists and later writers? What characterizes the psychological dimensions of a work of Modernist literature? How does Modernist writing reflect the Weltanschauung of the time, brought about particularly by World War I and World War II? Does a dichotomy exist between the objectivity of the early Modernists (Pound, Eliot, Williams) and the subjectivity of the other writers of that period (Woolf and, later, confessional poets like Plath and Sexton)?


Please call 514-935-9585 or e-mail info@thomasmore.qc.ca if you are interested in being added to the waitlist for this course. You will be contacted if space opens up.

Out of Africa: East African Politics and Displaced Communities in the Novels of Abdulrazak Gurnah

12 weeks, Tuesdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

In his novels, Tanzanian-born British novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah is concerned with themes of exile, displacement, and belonging as related to colonialism, war, and emigration. Winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Gurnah was singled out for his compassionate representation of the refugee “in the gulf between cultures and continents.” In this course, we will read three of his novels, all exploring these themes under diff erent guises: Paradise (1994), By the Sea (2001) and Afterlives (2020). We will ask a variety of questions as we read: How are origin stories complicated by leaving one place and going to another? How is identity fractured by the empire-building of colonialism—and then by emigration? What situations are responsible for states of displacement? Is fi ghting for your conqueror an act of desertion? How do you retrieve your past without denying or negating your present—and your future?


Please call 514-935-9585 or e-mail info@thomasmore.qc.ca if you are interested in being added to the waitlist for this course. You will be contacted if space opens up.


Music in Montreal: An Ongoing Tour, Part I

12 weeks, Mondays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Join us, this year, as we will be closely following the concerts of the main orchestras of the city, as well as chamber music groups, baroque ensembles, choirs, and a smattering of jazz and music from various traditions. Th e post-pandemic era is an exciting time to be following these concert programs for many reasons: Ensembles are presenting concerts with a renewed energy, and the current social climate has prompted a renewal of the sometimes-staid repertoire of classical ensembles. Fresh and exciting concerts are taking place nearly every night in this great cultural city! Course leader François A. Ouimet will provide videos and quality audio to the class through Zoom, and discuss certain aspects of the music, so that participants will better appreciate what they hear in the concert hall.


“Between Seduction and Inspiration”: Elizabeth Strout Meets Jean Laplanche

12 weeks, Mondays, 6:15-8:15 p.m.

“This is a story about a mother who loves her daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly.”

—Elizabeth Strout

The phrase quoted in the title of this course is borrowed from the work of the psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche and alludes to his view of the priority of others relative to the early formative experiences of human beings and their possibilities for self-transformation. Laplanche proposed that infants originally orbit passively around their parents and are subject to their overwhelming gravitational attraction, from which they defensively recoil. He also claimed that individuals may be drawn out of their retreats into encounters with others which inspire fresh thinking about the forces shaping their lives.

This course will consider the innovative ideas of Jean Laplanche and will bring them into conversation with Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy Barton novels. Some of the questions we will explore are: In what ways might it be useful to extend the concept of psychic trauma to include the impact of the initial extreme helplessness, powerlessness, and exposure to infl uence of all human beings? What follows if we take seriously the idea that, in addition to the responsible attentiveness they set out to provide, the caregivers of infants have an unconscious that contaminates their communications?

In the News Forum

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:15-8:15 p.m.

Th is current affairs discussion group will be based on articles that have appeared in one of the following four publications: The Economist, The Atlantic, Maclean’s and The New York Times. Each week the selected article, together with supporting material, will be forwarded to participants seven days in advance of the class. Participants will also be given the opportunity to propose current articles of interest.

Articles will be selected for discussion based on originality, balance, and their potential for provoking divergent opinions.

Discussions will delve into the current and historical context of the subject, its impact on Canada and the world, whether it changes previous interpretations, and why it might be controversial.


Please call 514-935-9585 or e-mail info@thomasmore.qc.ca if you are interested in being added to the waitlist for this course. You will be contacted if space opens up.


Foucault: The Truths We Tell

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

In the year 1983–84, Michel Foucault delivered a series of lectures at the Collège de France entitled “The Government of Self and Others.” Forty years later, at a time when misinformation abounds and lies have seemingly become the norm, we return to the insights of Foucault on the importance of truth (and truth tellers) to democracy. Taking the topic of enlightenment as a starting point, Foucault proceeds to an investigation of the history of truth telling or “parrēsia” with a focus on ancient Greek and Roman sources. By reading and discussing key lectures in the series, alongside supplementary materials including Euripides’ tragedy Ion and Plato’s Apology, we will consider the following questions:

For what reason ought we tell the truth? For the sake of others? For the sake of society? For the sake of our own integrity? What kind of risks are involved in truth telling and why do these risks exist? How has the culture of truth telling changed throughout history?


The Art and Strategy of Writing for the Screen

12 weeks, Thursdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

This course provides an introduction to writing for film and television. Class by class, participants will develop tools for crafting scenes, creating memorable characters, composing dialogue, constructing scripts, and sharpening pitches. Participants will begin preparing an original screenplay while having the chance to critique and learn from the writing of others. We will address many of the most basic and important questions in the field. Why do almost all films break down into three acts? Why is the question “What do I want the audience to feel?” so crucial? How can you make your characters not only credible, but also relatable? What techniques can be deployed to generate and maintain dramatic conflict? How can the climax you envision shipwreck your whole project? Why do the majority of films have a happy ending? What do you need to know about the world of film and TV in order to succeed as a screenwriter?

Odes to Montreal

12 weeks, Mondays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

In this 12-week course, writers will collaborate to create a multi-genre (poetry, playwriting, non-fiction, fiction, and hybrid forms) anthology of observations on public spaces in Montreal. For example: a short fiction work based in Schwartz’s Deli, a poetry collection connected to the Montreal Metro stations, or an interview series with Montreal-based writers…the options are unlimited! The course will involve reading works by Montreal authors and literature about the city. Site visits in Montreal will be part of the course, which will centre the use of writing prompts as a core methodology for creation and exchange. The course will explore interdisciplinary and visual-arts-based approaches to writing that encourage discussion, experimentation, and formal innovation. The course will focus on writers’ and creators’ passions, interests, and individual visions as well as group collaboration and structured feedback sessions. The course will culminate in a reading of excerpts from these Montreal-based works.


Bernard Lonergan et certains enjeux contemporains : On the Human Being

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

12 semaines, mercredi, 13h30 - 15h30
**Online, en ligne**

Si le « genre comme construction sociale » peut remplacer le sexe biologique ( Judith Butler), l’être humain est-il le fruit d’une convention? Existe-t-il une nature humaine? Doit-on dire avec Jean-Paul Sartre que « l’homme n’est rien d’autre que ce qu’il se fait »? How do advances being made in artificial intelligence challenge older concepts of the nature of human being? Is there an essential difference between AI and human intelligence? Can we still speak of a first person, an “I”? Comment affirmer que l’être humain est « un », mais à la fois matériel et spirituel, comme le fait Lonergan, dans le contexte des sciences neurocognitives actuelles? La pensée de Bernard Lonergan offre-t-elle des repères utiles devant ces enjeux contemporains? This class will explore how Lonergan might have responded to contemporary critiques of human nature, such as those from the fields of gender studies and artificial intelligence. Ce cours de douze rencontres explorera notamment les notions de développement, de conscience existentielle et d’affirmation de soi pour cerner la définition de l’humain que propose Bernard Lonergan, en regard des enjeux mentionnés.”

The Lost Art of Scripture: Engaging with Sacred Texts

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 


In our secular culture, sacred texts are often dismissed as irrelevant, or worse, as incitements to violence, hatred, and discrimination. But for hundreds of years, they were viewed as means for persons and communities to connect to the divine, to transcend their physical existence, and to come to a higher level of consciousness. These texts were seen as fluid, rather than as a set of binding rules and truths closed to interpretation. What value can scripture hold for us today?

In this course, we will consider some of the sacred books that have shaped various world belief systems, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism, to name but a few. We will examine how these texts have been read and how they are being read today.


Information et vérité: état des lieux

8 semaines, Mardis 19:00-21:00

Quelle est la situation des médias traditionnels aujourd’hui au Québec/Canada et dans le monde? Quels enjeux représentent pour la rigueur journalistique les médias sociaux, et les controverses entourant les sensibilités nouvelles à diverses identités humaines? Le journalisme « objectif » est-il possible alors que la pensée actuelle concernant le féminisme notamment, affirme que le savoir est toujours «situé socialement »?

À l’heure de la « réalité virtuelle », pouvons-nous encore distinguer le vrai du faux?

Au-delà d’une radicalisation du paysage politique en certaines régions du monde, que dit la pensée philosophique récente concernant la définition d’un fait et les critères de vérité? 


Digital Dilemmas

12 weeks, Mondays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

This course aims to bridge the divide between those who live happily in the digital world and those who dread technological advances. We will explore the following questions: What are the advantages and disadvantages of engaging in our 21st-century digitally connected environment? What evidence is there that our youth, and our culture more generally, are suffering from addiction to the gratifications offered by smartphones and social media? How do these forms of communication impact the development and ongoing cultivation of our capacity for reflection and critical thinking? Are we yet in a position to judge the impact of the technological world on our mental health?


Saturday Afternoon at the Opera

6 weeks, Saturdays, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

This course on opera will be held in conjunction with HD simulcast from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Starting this fall, we will enjoy nine operas. Some of the operas explored will be new productions of Dead Man Walking, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Florencia en el Amazonas, as well as favourites Nabucco and Roméo et Juliette and others. This course will take place both at the Thomas More Institute, for listening and discussion in preparation for the operas shown, and at the Cineplex of your choice where Met Opera HD is simulcast.

TMI Visits the McCord Museum: Indigenous Voices of Today

2 weeks, Saturdays, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
**McCord Museum, Online**

In the Fall of 2021, the McCord Museum opened their new and reimagined permanent exhibition entitled Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience. As part of the museum’s 100th anniversary programming, it seeks to recount history in a critical, inclusive way while amplifying the voices of Indigenous and other marginalized communities. This exhibition, produced by Huron-Wendat curator Elisabeth Kaine, features approximately 100 objects and testimonies from people of the 11 Indigenous nations in Quebec. The exhibition bears witness to the still unrecognized knowledge of Indigenous peoples in Quebec and Canada as well as the deep wounds they carry and their incredible resilience.

Join TMI on October 21st in a guided in-person visit (60 minutes) of the exhibition whose primary purpose is to create an encounter with Indigenous peoples to give visitors the sense that they are truly engaged and to spark dialogue, contributing to a better mutual understanding. This will be followed by an in-person museum workshop (60 minutes) that will discuss questions such as: What concrete actions can we take in our daily lives to become allies in Indigenous struggles? Reconciliation requires an awareness of Indigenous realities through dialogue and tangible actions led by Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals.

In addition, we will meet online (for two hours) a week after our museum visit, October 28th, to discuss our experience of the exhibition and readings that outline issues involved in decolonizing museums.

Questions? Stuck? Give us a call at (514) 935-9585
or email us at info@thomasmore.qc.ca