Schemel Forum Courses Explore 20th-century Social, Cultural and Political Topics

Aug 2, 2017

During the fall semester at The University of Scranton, local residents can expand their world view of the 1900s through German cinema, upheavals in Italy and a contemporary American novelist. Sponsored by the Schemel Forum, University professors will teach evening courses, each in six weekly sessions on campus. Beverages and light snacks will be offered.

“Marilynne Robinson: (Re) Collecting an American Past” will be taught by Joseph E. Kraus, Ph.D., professor of the University’s Department of English and Theatre and director of its Honors Program. “Marilynne Robinson’s recent trilogy of novels – ‘Gilead,’ ‘Home’ and ‘Lila’ – has established her as one of the leading voices in American literature,” according to Dr. Kraus. “In this class, we’ll look at her work for the way she probes character in the small Midwestern town of Gilead as a way of exploring the often-forgotten Calvinist roots of American culture, for the way she reimagines the confessional tradition of the novel and for the way she calls on us to see an authentic alternative American history of the last 160 years.” The course will meet in room 305 of the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on the following Mondays: Aug. 28; Sept. 11, 18 and 25; and Oct. 2 and 9.

Scranton Reads, a community reading initiative, chose “Gilead” as this year’s book selection. Scranton Reads events occur during the month of October throughout Lackawanna County.

Roy Domenico, Ph.D., professor of history at the University, will conduct a class titled “The Remaking of Italy in the Twentieth Century.” Political, social and cultural upheaval distinguished 20th-century Italy, which served as both a literal and figurative battleground. The class will focus on six particularly illustrative and pivotal years in recent Italian history: 1919, 1936, 1943, 1948, 1960 and 1994.

“As we look at the events of these years, examine the changes they represent and put them in a broader context, we will gain an understanding of Italy through two world wars and a cold war, Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi,” said Dr. Domenico. “Although the 1900s in Italy were marked by continual political chaos, Italians generally have maintained a character of decency that has always attracted me.” The course will meet in room 305 of the Weinberg Memorial Library from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on the following Thursdays: Sept. 7, 14, 21 and 28; and Oct. 5 and 12.

During “Classics of German Cinema,” Jamie Trnka, Ph.D., associate professor of world languages & cultures at the University, will mark the 100th anniversary of Universum film (Ufa), the iconic studio that dominated the German film industry from 1917 to 1945. “Ufa played a key role in consolidating German film’s international reputation for technological innovation, artistic quality and commercial success,” said Dr. Trnka. “Ultimately Ufa and its rival studios made a lasting impact on classic Hollywood cinema via German exiles and émigrés to the U.S.”

Taking this anniversary as an occasion to revisit Weimar-era cinema, the course will explore the rich culture of interwar Germany through short lectures, film screenings and discussions. Participants will gain insight into the emergence of the studio system, the transition from silent to sound film and the special place of film in mass culture.

Films screened in full or in part include “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” “The Blue Angel” and “Metropolis.” The course will meet in the Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall (room 228) from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on the following Wednesdays: Oct. 11, 18 and 25; and Nov. 1, 8 and 15.

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, call 570-941-6206 or email For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers at 570-941-4089 or


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