Schemel Forum Courses Examine Literature, Film and 20th Century Milestones

Sep 4, 2015

Local residents can study influential plays by George Bernard Shaw, recent documentary filmmaking, and six critical years in German (and European) history through courses offered by the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton during the fall semester. University of Scranton professors will teach these evening courses in six session intervals on campus.

“Bernard Shaw and the Making of the Modern World” will be taught by John McInerney, Ph.D., professor emeritus in English Literature at the University, and member and former officer in The International Shaw Society. George Bernard Shaw, the only person to win both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, was a widely quoted, often controversial public figure from the “horse and buggy” days of the 19th century right up to the atomic age. This course will examine Shaw’s impact on the cultural and political development of the 20th century and the way in which his plays – such as “Arms and the Man,” “Man and Superman,” “Pygmalion” and “Saint Joan” – both reacted to the mores of their times and anticipated the course of events.

“One example of Shaw being ahead of his time was his advocacy of women’s rights,” said Dr. McInerney, who was named the University’s CASE Professor of the Year in 2001 in recognition of his outstanding performance as a member of the faculty. “He created female characters who broke the shackles of limited roles as wife and mother; his women participated in public life, held jobs in various fields and voted. Shaw wasn’t right about everything, but he hit the nail on the head when he said, ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’”

The course will meet in room 305 of the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on the following Wednesdays: Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28; and Nov. 4 and 11; each class will focus on a different Shaw play.

Jamie Trnka, Ph.D., associate professor of world languages at Scranton, and independent scholar Andrew Oppenheimer, Ph.D., will convene “Keep it Reel: New Directions in Non-Fiction Film.” The course will include weekly screenings of recent documentary films. An introductory lecture will feature clips from classic and contemporary documentaries in order to orient the participants to the practice of “reading” a documentary film and will introduce key developments in technical, thematic and ethical issues in filmmaking over time. The course will meet in the Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the following Thursdays:

Oct. 8: Introductory lecture and short clips

Oct. 15: “Searching for Sugar Man” (2012)

Oct. 22: “Poverty, Inc.” (2014) with guest speaker Michael Matheson Miller, Ph.D. (director)

Oct. 29: “Joachim Prinz: I Shall not be Silent” (2014) with guest speaker Rabbi Clifford Kulwin, Ph.D.

Nov. 5: “Detropia” (2012)

Nov. 12: “Kids for Cash” (2014)

During “The Six Years That Defined the German Century” Sean Brennan, Ph.D., associate professor of history at the University, will focus on six years that forged both Germany’s and Europe’s destiny in the 20th century: 1918, 1933, 1943, 1949, 1961 and 1989. “Few countries had a greater impact on the history of the 20th century than Germany, which was at the heart of Europe and the center of the maelstroms of the First World War, fascism and communism, the Second World War, and the Cold War,” said Dr. Brennan.

During each of these years, a conflux of events occurred which put Germany towards a different future. These events need to be considered in the context of the times; the development of German history was a gradual process whose outcome was not necessarily inevitable. According to Dr. Brennan, all six contribute to making Germany what it is today: a huge player in the European Union. The course will meet in room 305 of the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on the following Wednesdays: Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26; and Nov. 2 and 9.

Registration is required for the courses; space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Local residents can attend any course for $60 per person or $100 per couple Schemel Forum members attend free. To register, contact Emily Brees, Schemel Forum assistant, at 570-941-6206 or

For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers 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, created by friends of the late Father Schemel in his loving memory, and spearheaded by Harmar Brereton, M.D, the forum has grown from a handful of informal lectures to a comprehensive enrichment program of study, dialogue, performances and special events. Through the forum the University offers to the community its most valuable assets – its faculty members and the wealth of knowledge that they possess.

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