Schemel Forum Courses Discuss the Impact of Politics, Film and the Bible on Culture

Jan 7, 2011

         What do the Bible and the Golden Age of Italian cinema have in common with current American media and literature? All of these subjects are affected by politics and, in turn, have political implications. And all will be explored by courses sponsored by the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton during the spring semester.

         The Schemel Forum’s spring courses, which are taught primarily by University of Scranton professors in the evening and are open to area residents, are “Italian Filmmaking: How it Influenced World Cinema;” “The Bible as Book: The Physical Development of the Bible from Hebrew Scroll through Victorian Family Bible;” and a two part course “Politics and Prose” (“The End of Politics?” and “The Ends of Political Novels”), which explores political and literary works.

        “Through the Schemel Forum, the University shares its most valuable resources with the community — our faculty and ideas,” said Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum.

        Joseph Rettura, a cameraman and film editor who holds a Master’s Certificate from New York University’s film school, opens the sessions with “Italian Filmmaking: How it Influenced World Cinema.” Rettura claims that for Italian cinema, the years 1943 to 1975 were a “golden age.” Poetically literate, cleverly scripted, beautifully photographed and masterfully directed, many of these films influenced cinema worldwide. He asserts that because of their techniques and focus on a wide range of ideas, life views and politics, these films have stood the test of time and continue to inspire filmmakers today. The course will meet on Mondays, 5 – 9 p.m., from Feb. 7 through March 14.

        “The Physical Development of the Bible from Hebrew Scroll through Victorian Family Bible,” taught by Michael Knies, associate professor and Special Collections librarian at The University of Scranton, will use images and original items from the Weinberg Memorial Library collection. The course will explore the cultural impact of changes in the production and format of the Bible and related books — covering Judaism and early Christianity, changes in the medieval Bible, the ensuing Reformation, and the mass-produced Victorian family Bibles. The course will meet on Thursdays, 6 – 7:15 p.m., from March 17 through April 14.

         The Schemel Forum also offers two three-session courses that reflect America in our time. Organized under the title “Politics and Prose,” one course will examine our culture from a philosophical perspective and one from a literary perspective — concluding with a joint Politics and Prose session. Area residents can sign up for either or both three-session courses, as well as for the joint session.

        Taught by William V. Rowe, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at the University, “The End of Politics?” delves into today’s “new age” of politics.

        “Many consider politics dangerous,” said Dr. Rowe. “But, is politics itself endangered? Is private interest, including monetary gain, pushing aside the common good? Is media infotainment threatening public discourse? Do these patterns mean the end of politics? What is the ‘end’ (the meaning) of politics, of citizenship of public happiness?” Participants will seek answers to those questions 5 – 6:15 p.m. on Wednesdays: Feb. 9, 16 and 23.

        DuringThe Ends of Political Novels,” Joseph D. Kraus, Ph.D., associate professor of English and theater, examines recent fiction by Don DeLillo (“Mao II”), Nicole Krauss (“From the Desk of Daniel Varsky”) and Aleksander Hemon (“The Lazarus Project”). “I believe that stories have the capacity to change the way we see the world,” said Dr. Kraus, who coauthored “An Accidental Anarchist” — which focuses on the same subject as “The Lazarus Project,” but predates Hemon’s work.

        “When writers engage in political events, they often find themselves limited in their ability to shape the public imagination around those events. Readers of these three works in particular will ask themselves, ‘How much are we motivated to help others?’” The course will meet 5 – 6:15 p.m. on Wednesdays: March 2, 9 and 16.

        In their joint session, Drs. Rowe and Kraus will moderate an informal discussion on current American public and civic life in the global context. That session will take place on Wednesday, March 30, from 5 to 6:15 p.m.

        Session fees vary and reservations are required to attend. Space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served 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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