Schemel Forum Courses Examine Topics in War, Religion and Art

Feb 5, 2013

During the spring semester, local residents can study the Vietnam War, Christian-Muslim relations and artist Georgia O’Keeffe through the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton. These fascinating evening courses for local residents will all be taught by University of Scranton professors.

On the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, “The Vietnam War: As Seen in Film and Literature” offers commentary on the war from various perspectives. In weeks one, two, five and six, David Wenzel, former mayor of Scranton, will screen and discuss four documentary films: “In the Year of the Pig,” directed by Emile de Antonio; “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara,” directed by Errol Morris with an original score by Philip Glass; “Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam,” directed by Bill Couturie; and “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision,” a film about the artist who designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., directed by Freida Lee Mock.

In weeks three and four, Daniel Fraustino, Ph.D., professor of English at The University of Scranton, will examine two novels: “The Things We Carried” by Tim O’Brien and “Dispatches “by Michael Herr. They describe the alternating cynicism and helplessness of American soldiers swept up by a war ferociously pitched on political abstraction. Both novels – one fictional, the other non-fictional – reveal the searing effects of the Vietnam War on the hearts and souls of young men and women plucked from peaceful lives and thrust into a matrix of absurdity and violence. The course will meet on Wednesdays, from March 20 through April 24, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. \The April 3 and April 10 literature classes will meet in the Weinberg Memorial Library, room 305, and the film classes will meet at the Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall.

Christian S. Krokus, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology and religious studies at The University of Scranton, will discuss “Religious Pluralism: Problem or Promise? The Case of Christianity and Islam.” Members of various religious traditions live in increasingly close proximity to one another, making it nearly impossible to avoid the religious “other.” Using relations between Christians and Muslims as a focal point, this course considers some of the ways that thinkers and believers of one religious tradition have understood other religious traditions, both historically and currently. “We will examine the exclusivist, inclusivist and pluralist positions and also examine the practical implications of those positions by considering current events and contemporary situations in places as diverse as the United States, Europe, Turkey and Syria,” said Dr. Krokus. “We will also study a few creative attempts at Christian-Muslim dialogue today.” The course will meet on Tuesdays, March 5 and 12, and April 9 through April 30, in the Weinberg Memorial Library, room 305, from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

Josephine Dunn, Ph.D., professor of art history at The University of Scranton, will explore “Georgia O’Keeffe,” an American master steeped in the modernist tradition and, at the same time, seeing and painting the world in a unique way. The radical O’Keeffe mused in 1916 that “School and things that painters have taught me ... keep me from painting as I want to.” According to Dr. Dunn, O’Keeffe’s uncompromising struggle to find her own voice kept her on course from her early years in the Midwest, through her period of nurturing relationships with artists in New York City, and finally in New Mexico – where she “flowered” to legendary status in the art world. “O’Keeffe’s mystique,” said Dr. Dunn, “is a combination of her instantly recognizable lyrical abstractions, her fierce independence and her demand for privacy.” Rather than following the artist’s career chronologically, the course will consider six topics, including feminism. “O’Keeffe bristled when some critics and peers characterized her as a ‘woman artist,’” said Dr. Dunn. “She is great because of not only her art, but also what she achieved as an artist.” The course will meet on Thursdays from March 14 through April 25 (excluding March 28) in the Weinberg Memorial Library, room 305, 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 941-7816 or The Schemel Forum is a program of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Memorial Library. For more information about programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum, at 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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