Roosevelt MontásRoosevelt Montás

Dominican-born American academic Roosevelt Montás will share his life journey to highlight the continued relevance of the “Great Books” by writers such as Plato, Augustine, Freud and Gandhi and a traditional liberal arts education through an address at Hope College on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 11 a.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The event is being sponsored by the college’s Markets & Morality student organization in conjunction with this year’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The presentation will be based on Montás’ book “Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation,” published in 2021. In considering the question “What is the value of a liberal education?” the book’s overview observes, “Traditionally characterized by a rigorous engagement with the classics of Western thought and literature, this approach to education is all but extinct in American universities, replaced by flexible distribution requirements and ever-narrower academic specialization. Many academics attack the very idea of a Western canon as chauvinistic, while the general public increasingly doubts the value of the humanities.”  Through his narrative, it continues, Montás “tells the story of how a liberal education transformed his life, and offers an intimate account of the relevance of the Great Books today, especially to members of historically marginalized communities.”

Montás emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Queens, New York, when he was 12 and encountered the Western classics as an undergraduate in Columbia University’s Core Curriculum. The experience changed his life and determined his career — he went on to earn a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature, serve as director of Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum, and start a Great Books program for low-income high school students who aspire to be the first in their families to attend college.

Markets & Morality aims to support and celebrate freedom of expression in the context of the liberal arts by hosting speakers and films on topics spanning the economic, political and cultural aspects of human civilization, with a special concern for human flourishing as understood in Christian perspective.

The lecture is among more than 100 events being presented throughout the West Michigan Lakeshore in conjunction with the NEA Big Read and Little Read Lakeshore during the latter half of October and the month of November.  This year, the community-wide programs are exploring Greek mythology, the Hero’s Journey, and untold stories through the lives of characters ranging from an ancient mythological enchantress-goddess to a modern child and well-known superheroes.

The NEA Big Read Lakeshore is featuring “Circe,” by Madeline Miller.  In addition to “Last Stop on Market Street” for children, the Little Read Lakeshore is featuring four books for middle readers: Homer’s “The Odyssey”; the children’s picture book “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson; and the young-adult novels “Miles Morales: Spider-Man,” by Jason Reynolds; “Superman Dawnbreaker,” also by Matt de la Peña; and “Zita the Spacegirl,” by Ben Hatke.

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, and the Little Read Lakeshore is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities.  Both are organized by Hope College with community partners throughout West Michigan.  More information about this year’s programs, including a complete schedule of events, is available at

Audience members who need assistance to fully enjoy any event at Hope are encouraged to contact the college’s Events and Conferences Office by emailing or calling 616-395-7222 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Updates related to events are posted when available in the individual listings at

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., between 10th and 13th streets.