Schemel Forum Courses Travel Around the World and Across Generations

Jan 23, 2012

This Schemel Forum courses at The University of Scranton this spring delve into the work of an influential 20th century Italian filmmaker, a masterpiece of 19th century English literature, and an outgrowth of the current American financial crisis.

Taught primarily by University of Scranton professors, the lineup includes “‘I’m a Big Liar’: The Films of Federico Fellini,” “Madness, Mystery and Murderous Desire: Charles Dickens’ ‘Bleak House,’” and “Occupy the Political Economy: The Financial Crisis and the American Future.”

Joseph Rettura, cameraman and film editor who holds a master’s certificate from New York University’s film school, said, “Just as Fellini was influenced by early filmmakers including Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, King Vidor and Buster Keaton, his body of work inspired others as diverse as Terry Gilliam, Bob Fosse, Woody Allen, Robert Altman and Ingmar Bergman.” Although Fellini’s film-directing career spans 23 films, this seminar will concentrate on six of them representing the early, middle and late periods of his career. “‘I’m a Big Liar’: The Films of Federico Fellini” will meet on Mondays, from Feb. 6 through March 12. Participants will view films from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and discuss them from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall.

During “Madness, Mystery and Murderous Desire: Charles Dickens’ ‘Bleak House,’” Denise Fulbrook, Ph.D., adjunct faculty member at The University of Scranton, will explore what is often described as the greatest novel of one of the most popular, influential and satiric 19th century authors. Participants will explore the issues that haunt and define the novel’s limits as it speaks to its own historical moment – and our own.

“Recent political, economic and legal events make Dickens incredibly relevant today,” said Dr. Fulbrook. “I’m struck by the way contemporary discourse has turned on so many of the metaphors, brutal economic circumstances and inhumane institutional responses that Dickens and other 19th century sages questioned forcefully. From equating ‘people’ with the dirty to representing corporate and governmental institutions as vampiric, Dickens reminds us that ways of speaking and positioning people in a society have a history.” The course will meet at the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 to 7:15 p.m. The schedule includes six Tuesdays in an eight-week span with reading time built in: March 20 and 27; April 3, reading week/no class; April 10 and 17; April 24, reading week/no class; and May 1 and 8.

Taught by David O. Friedrichs, professor of sociology and criminal justice and Distinguished University Fellow at The University of Scranton, “Occupy the Political Economy: The Financial Crisis and the American Future” will address the causes of America’s recent financial meltdown, as well as a way out. The objective of this course is to explore both the sources and the political implications of the core claim of the Occupy Wall Street movement: that the present architecture of the American political economy is neither defensible nor sustainable.

“We will attempt to identify the key sources of the crisis and move on to address the global financial crisis and the civil society responses to it,” said Friedrichs. “As a society, we disregard the claims of the ‘Occupy’ movement at our peril.” The course will meet from 6 to 7:15 p.m. at the Weinberg Memorial Library on the following Wednesdays: Feb. 8, 15, 22 and 29 and March 7 and 21.

Commenting on the significance of the Schemel Forum program, Friedrichs said, “I have a bottomless well of admiration for the Schemel Forum; it has elevated and enriched the local intellectual and cultural environment to a measurable degree.”

Participants can attend any course for $60 per person or $100 per couple. To register, contact Kym Fetsko, events coordinator, at (570) 941-7816 or For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers, senior fellow and 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 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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