Schemel Forum’s “University for a Day” Examines Cultural and Political Topics

Aug 31, 2016

On Saturday, Sept. 17, The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum will present its annual University for a Day. Two Scranton faculty members and two prominent scholars from other institutions will engage area residents in a full day of thought-provoking topics.

Offered every fall, University for a Day features four lectures, with ample time for discussion, as well as mingling over morning coffee, lunch and a closing reception. The event will run from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall on campus.

The first lecture begins at 9:30 a.m. with “Damon Runyon’s Broadway Carnival.” Joseph Kraus, Ph.D., professor of English and theatre at The University of Scranton, will introduce the nearly forgotten author of the stories that became the musical “Guys and Dolls.” Dr. Kraus said, “Damon Runyon used his newspaper columns to characterize gangsters, nightclub performers and rogue politicians as a new kind of New York elite. Then, through his short stories, he helped establish a new vocabulary for imagining the post-immigrant experience.”

Next, at 11 a.m., poet, activist and scholar Sonia Sanchez will take us back to “The Harlem Renaissance: A Cultural, Social and Artistic Explosion.” The Harlem Renaissance was the name given to the cultural, social and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem between the end of World War I and the middle of the 1930s. During this period, Harlem was a cultural center that attracted black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets and scholars. “James Weldon Johnson, an author, lawyer and civil rights activist, referred to Harlem Renaissance as a ‘flowering of Negro literature,’ but it included other art forms as well and it resonated way beyond the borders of Harlem – to other American cities, to the Caribbean and to Paris,” said Sanchez, who was the Laura Carnell professor of English and women’s studies at Temple University. She will explore the depth and breadth of this remarkable period, which continues to impact us today.

After lunch, at 1:45 p.m., University for a Day continues with “Do Leaders Make History? Reflections on the American Presidency.” Frederic Logevall, Ph.D., who won the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed 2012 book, “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam,” brings up a famous relevant quote by Karl Marx: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please.” Dr. Logevall, Laurence D. Belfer professor of international affairs at Harvard University, asks, “Was he right and how should we think about the role of the individual in human affairs versus that of deeper impersonal forces?” His talk will explore this profound question anew in the context of contemporary American and world history. “To the decision-makers of the past, the future was just a set of possibilities,” he said. “In numerous instances in modern history, leaders have been able to influence the course of events, sometimes decisively.

The final presentation, “Contradiction and Pragmatism: President Jefferson’s Foreign Policy and Politics in the Early American Republic,” will be delivered at 3:15 p.m. by David Dzurec, Ph.D., associate professor of history at The University of Scranton. “President Jefferson’s policies and philosophy are often portrayed as riven with contradictions,” said Dr. Dzurec. “He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and a slave-holder; a proponent of limited government who doubled the size of the country.” For all of the seeming contradictions, this talk, through an examination of Jefferson’s foreign policy, will argue that he might best be viewed as a pragmatist in dealing with the realities of American politics and foreign relations in the earliest years of our nation.

Seating is limited and reservations are required to attend the Schemel Forum’s University for a Day program, which is sponsored by the Scranton Area Foundation and the Neighborhood Development Trust Fund. The participation fee is $25 for non-Schemel Forum members, which includes morning coffee, lunch and a reception.

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, Schemel Forum director, 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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