Schemel Forum Courses Illustrate How Past Influences the Present

Aug 11, 2016

During the fall semester at The University of Scranton, local residents can discover how three prominent historical topics continue to influence our lives today: “The Canturbury Tales,” Islamic Art and Culture, and the Holocaust. Sponsored by the Schemel Form, University of Scranton professors will teach six-session evening courses on these topics on campus.

“Top Down? Chaucer and Medieval Governance in ‘The Canterbury Tales’” will be taught by Rebecca Beal, Ph.D., professor and chair of the University’s Department of English and Theatre. Dr. Beal said, “As we live through a presidential election campaign, we are more attentive to government than usual, with questions such as: Why do we need government? Who has the right to govern? What are the rights and responsibilities both of those who lead and those who follow?” Chaucer’s tales are also concerned with issues of governance — for individuals, families, organizations and countries. Although Chaucer’s historical context is quite different from ours, ‘The Canterbury Tales’ explores issues that still resonate today.

The course will meet in the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on the following Wednesdays: Aug. 31; Sept. 7, 14, 21 and 28; and Oct. 5.

Josephine Dunn, Ph.D., professor of art history at the University, will conduct a class titled “An Introduction to Islamic Art and Culture.” This introductory art history course presents art produced by Muslims from the 7th through the 21st centuries. “In cultural terms, dialogue between east and west in ‘the middle world’ (e,g., Central Asia and Middle East) has entailed encounter, discourse and response even earlier than the 7th century, when Islam introduced a new faith to the mix of world cultures,” said Dr. Dunn.

Illustrated lectures will cover the following topics: the birth of Islamic art; cultural dialogue between East and West; fruits (art) of political division and invasion; the effects of colonialism on the Islamic-built environment and cultural psyche; and the challenge of defining identity in Islamic art of the 21st century. The course will meet in the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on the following Thursdays: Oct. 13, 20 and 27; and Nov. 3, 10 and 17.

“The Holocaust: An Interdisciplinary Perspective” will be taught by a team of University faculty working in their respective disciplines to give a comprehensive understanding of this still-mysterious horrific twentieth-century genocide. The professors are Frank Homer, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history; William Rowe, Ph.D., professor of philosophy; David Friedrichs, professor of sociology and criminal justice; Darlene Miller-Lanning, Ph.D. director of the University’s Hope Horn Gallery; and Carl Schaffer, professor of English and theatre. The course will meet in the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on the following Mondays: Oct. 17, 24 and 31; and Nov. 7, 14 and 21.

Local residents can attend any course for $60 per person or $100 per couple (Schemel Forum members attend free). Space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

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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