25 September, 2019


Prof Simon Haines is executive head of the Ramsay Centre, an endowment set up to partner Australian mainstream universities in establishing ‘Great Books’ programmes as a means of broadening the undergraduate experience in Arts. Few could have foreseen the bitterness of the opposition to this:  the Centre drew all the usual epithets of abuse (racist, sexist, chauvinist, fascist etc) from a narrow but influential range of academics.  The attack was so forceful that several institutions declined to take advantage of a valuable benefit that would have been theirs to administer without interference.  Prof Haines spoke to the Centre last Friday 20 September.  He explained and dissected the character of the opposition.  He was reluctant to have his talk recorded, because of the sensitivities involved, but has promised us a written redaction for distribution.  I look forward to distributing it soon.

Former Melbourne headmaster Neville Clark was in the audience.  I thought his comments worth quoting:

‘What a marvellous exposition Simon Haines gave us! I hadn’t realised the extent to which the Arts degree with which I had been familiar had been replaced by a viewing of all formerly canonical texts through particular and largely myopic lenses, such as the Marxist interpretation of Shakespeare’s History Plays, or the Links to Feminism in the Comedies – anything but Shakespeare Pure. What a sad development that academics today have become so jealously protective of their own pet value-judgments that they actually stand in the way of their students’ appreciation of the Text itself! No wonder that the Ramsay project is viewed with fear.’

The Ramsay Centre continues to fight for recognition by providing excellent online material and other educational resources.  In this podcast Stephen McInerney interviews acclaimed medievalist Associate Professor Rachel Fulton Brown from the University of Chicago on the Great Books of the Middle Ages.


The following silly remarks appeared in the distinguished online journal La Croix International on 13 September. 

‘The episcopal voices are supported by ideological, right-wing activist groups such as Sydney-based Notre Dame University’s Institute for Ethics and Society, the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne and the Christopher Dawson Centre in Hobart.  These institutes are part of a worldwide collection of similar organizations pushing a right-wing, ideological agenda.  Italy has the Dignitatis Humanae Institute promoted by Steve Bannon. The United States has the Napa Institute promoted by Timothy Busch and supported by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and an array of others, including George Weigel.  These movements are highly organized and well-funded.’

I suppose we should take it as a compliment that we are included in such exalted if sometimes questionable company, though two observations are called for:

1.       I am delighted to know that we are considered to be ‘highly organized’, but was unaware that we are also ‘well-funded’!  This happy circumstance had escaped my notice.  Are we to expect a cheque in the mail?

2.       We are not ‘right-wing’.  The Dawson Centre is undeniably and unashamedly conservative, but I insist that that term properly understood has no necessary connection with the political right. We are empahtically unaligned politically. 


Two members of our International Advisory Board have recently published important new books:  Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization, by Dr Sam Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, and American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburghby Fr Wilson Miscamble CSC, of Notre Dame University in the US.  Another friend of the Dawson Centre, Fr Paul Stenhouse MSC, Editor of Annals, has released a new study Islam: Context and Complexity.


Part of my July address at Chavagnes College – All is not quiet on the Western Front: can the Centre hold? – is available here.  A recent short piece on our debt to Christianity was published online by Quadrant here.



1.       MEDIEVAL LATIN 13-17 JANUARY 2020

This course will offer a general introduction to post-classical Latin, poetry and prose, sacred and secular.  Some prior knowledge of Latin is recommended.  There will be an introduction to palaeography, including an opportunity to handle original manuscripts.


An intensive course in the koine Greek of the New Testament.  We shall read passages from the Epistles and Gospels, as well as the Septuagint and Christian literature of the apostolic age.  The course is aimed at beginners, but it is strongly recommended that all learn the Greek alphabet before commencing; exercises will be posted out beforehand to assist in that.

Both January Summer Schools will be held at Jane Franklin Hall (a college of the University of Tasmania), 6 Elboden Street, South Hobart.  Write to me directly for further information.


The tentative date for this is Saturday 27 June.  It will be our fifth annual colloquium.  The theme is yet to be finalized but will centre on education, the proper métier of the Dawson Centre. 


Following the success of the Rome Latin Summer School in July 2019 we have been asked to stage a repeat in 2020 for those who missed out, and of course for any others interested. The intensive two-week course is a study of Roman and Medieval Culture and the growth of Western and Christian civilisation through the medium of the Latin language. It is not intended for beginners, but those who are new to Latin and/or have studied other languages, and who are willing to do some hard work on their own in the meantime, will certainly benefit. Classes are taught in the mornings, leaving the afternoons free for walking and talking. It is planned to include a tour to Naples and Pompeii.

With best wishes to all,

David Daintree