Schemel Forum Courses Decipher Two European Artists and American Philosophy

Aug 30, 2010

        Local residents can gain a deeper understanding of the lives and works of two important European artists and the roots of American philosophy during courses sponsored by the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton during the fall semester.

        The Schemel Forum’s fall courses, which are taught by University of Scranton professors, are The Absolutely Fabulous, Suspiciously Witty Work and Legacy of Jane Austen; Michelangelo: The Artist, the Poet and His Times; and American Philosophy: Transcendentalism, Pragmatism and Native American Thought.

        “The Schemel Forum allows the University to share our most valuable resources with the community – our faculty and ideas,” says Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum.

        Adjunct professor of English and theatre Denise Fulbrook, Ph.D., will lead an exploration of Austen’s works during Witty Work and Legacy of Jane Austen, which will meet on Tuesdays from Sept. 14 through Oct. 26.

        Fulbrook says Austen is more than a writer; she’s an icon.

        “At once adored and dismissed, she is a saint of literary worship and a writer of little pretty worlds, an icon of romance and a witty witch,” Dr. Fulbrook said. “She is a figure of our fantasies as much as a figure of history.”

        Dr. Fulbrook explained that, whether or not one has actually read an Austen novel, most people have some idea of who she is and what she writes about. The course will begin with a discussion of participants’ ideas about Austen and their origins, and will explore two of her novels against a variety of different contexts – literary, historical, cinematic, biographical and critical – as a means to gain a nuanced, multidimensional understanding of the work and legacy of this fascinating, paradoxical and highly influential author.

        “I hope that all of us – me included – take away not only a more layered and learned idea of this author’s work and place in literary history but a sense of being part of a wonderful and vital intellectual community,” said Dr. Fulbrook. “One of the best things about the Schemel Forum is that the students have such a rich set of educational, professional and life experiences – all of which help to make this space an ideal and exceptional learning environment.”

        During Transcendentalism, Pragmatism and Native American Thought, Daniel Haggerty, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, will lead a study of the currents of philosophy rooted in America, with an emphasis on transcendentalism, pragmatism and Native American thought. Class participants will examine the works of several authors, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Peirce, William James and Black Elk.

        “Most of the courses on western philosophy at colleges and universities in the United States focus on the philosophical tradition growing out of ancient Greece and continuing throughout European history and culture,” said Dr. Haggerty. “While American philosophy is certainly in conversation with that tradition, there are uniquely American perspectives on epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of education and more. We’ll explore these perspectives.”

        Dr. Haggerty hopes participants gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical efforts and not just the political and economic efforts to articulate the meaning of America.

        “We’ll see that the ongoing American philosophy is one that is not a settled system, but rather one in which we are still finding our way,” Dr. Haggerty added.

        This forum’s six sessions will be held on Oct. 18 and 25, and Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22. 

        Taught by Josephine Dunn, Ph.D., associate professor of history at The University of Scranton, Michelangelo: The Artist, the Poet and His Times will be an examination of the life and times of Michelangelo through his poetry, paintings, sculpture and architecture. The course will meet on Thursdays from Sept. 16 through Oct. 28.

        Session fees vary and reservations are required to attend. Space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Additionally, Schemel Forum annual and “angel” memberships are available.  

        To register for the programs, contact Kym Fetsko, events coordinator, at (570) 941-7816 or For more information on programs and memberships, contact Myers, director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton, at (570) 941-4089 or


The Schemel Forum is a program of participatory learning experiences aimed at cultivating the intellect and the imagination through study and discussion of classical texts and current policies, from the arts, history and philosophy to technology and theology. Founded in 2006 through generous gifts to the Rev. George Schemel, S.J., Fund, the forum has grown quickly from a handful of informal lectures to a comprehensive enrichment program of study, dialogue, performances and special events. Session fees vary by program.

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