Schemel Forum Courses Examine Significant Periods in English, Irish and American Society

Sep 4, 2012

From the age of chivalry to the silent film era to two centuries of conflict between Britain and Ireland, the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton has lined up a series of fascinating evening courses for local residents during the fall semester – all taught by University of Scranton professors.

Rebecca Beal, Ph.D., professor of English at Scranton, focuses on “Chivalry: Knights and the Ladies Who Love Them.” “In his portraits of the Knight and the Squire, Chaucer’s ‘General Prologue’ offers two very different perspectives of the knightly class,” said Dr. Beal. “The rest of the ‘Canterbury Tales’ is even more varied, from tales that praise chivalry for establishing societal order, to those that critique its unchecked power over others.” This class will study the “General Prologue” and five other tales in light of chivalry’s ideals for itself and Chaucer’s fictional critiques of it. Students may read the tales in Modern English, but the course will pay attention to Middle English and the nature of Chaucer’s poetry. The course will meet on Wednesdays, from Oct. 3 through Nov. 7, in the Weinberg Memorial Library, Room 305, from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

The course “We Didn’t Need Dialog. We Had Faces! A Look at the American Silent Film,” Kevin R. Norris, reference librarian and assistant professor at Scranton, will explore the first 30 years of American film making. With the success this past year of the movies “Hugo” and “The Artist,” both set in the world of the silent film, there has been a renewed interest in the age of movie making before the advent of sound in 1927. “Silent films are fascinating to me because of their intensity and intimacy,” said Norris. “Because close-ups are the hallmark of this highly visual medium, viewers get a keen insight into the actors’ personalities. I want to help class participants look at something old with new eyes.” Topics covered will include the invention of the motion picture by Thomas Edison, early nickelodeons, the invention of the blockbuster film by D.W. Griffith, the comedy clowns, (e.g. Chaplin and Keaton), the cult of the film star, (e.g. Garbo and Valentino), and finally the death of the silent film and its rediscovery with video and digital technology. The course will meet on Mondays from Sept. 10 through Oct. 29, excluding Sept. 17 and Oct. 15, in Brennan Hall, Pearn Auditorium, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Lawrence W. Kennedy, Ph.D., professor of history at Scranton, will teach “Bullets, Ballots and Bombs: Making War and Peace in Ireland, 1798 to 1998.” The course will help participants understand the tragedy of two centuries of conflict in Ireland – from the United Irishmen to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement ­– by examining the Union with Britain, the politicians and plotters who opposed it, the Easter Rising of 1916, the creation of a partitioned Ireland, the “Troubles” and the peace process that established a new basis of hope. Dr. Kennedy, who is writing a book about the creation of an Irish identity in the 19th century, said, “Many scholars have described Irish history over the past two centuries as being characterized by two approaches or traditions: physical force (‘bullets’ and ‘bombs’) and parliamentary (‘ballots’).” Perhaps the evolution of these traditions is best personified by Martin McGuiness, once an IRA commander, who became a parliamentary leader and government minister.” The course will meet on Tuesdays from Sept. 11 through Oct. 23, excluding Sept. 25, in the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

Participants can attend any course for $60 per person or $100 per couple. Space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, contact Kym Fetsko, events coordinator, at (570) 941-7816 or For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum, 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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