Course Descriptions: Spring 2018

*FiftyNorth is the new name for the Northfield Senior Center
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Dana Strand: The Seventh Art – France Goes to the Movies

8 Mondays, 9:30-11:30 (screenings Fridays 1:30), Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit: 18

According to the acclaimed Spanish cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, “the history of French cinema is the history of cinema.” Despite the long shadow cast by the formidable Hollywood film industry, there is a fair amount of evidence to support Almendros’s claim. Where, after all, would world cinema be today without the early pioneering work of the Lumière Brothers and Georges Méliès, the distinctive contributions made by Jean Renoir and the French poetic realists of the 30’s, or the technical innovations of the New Wave filmmakers in the 1950’s? This course will take up Almendros’s tantalizing invitation to explore French film-making over time and across genres, seeking to appreciate each work at the intersection of historical moment and artistic vision. Discussions will focus on the power of French cinema to engage with the important issues of its day. In addition to class time, participants will need to set aside a few hours a week for screenings (either via Netflix or through scheduled sessions to be held Friday afternoons at 1:30 in VOC). Selected readings will provide suggestions for approaching each film.

For further information, click here.

Dana Strand taught French literature, culture, and film at Carleton College, where she was Andrew W. Mellon Professor of French and the Humanities. She has published a number of articles on French film in collections of essays on French Cultural Studies as well as in scholarly journals.

dstrand@carleton.edu

Mike Harper: Thinking about Vietnam, 2018

8 Mondays, 9:30-11:30, FiftyNorth*106
Enrollment limit: 20

Practically everybody agreed: If America didn’t draw the line in Vietnam, all of South East Asia and the Southwestern Pacific would fall prey to the global Communist conspiracy. And surely our vast firepower assured victory with a minimum of fuss. For our generation – for people, say, who were young in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s – the haunting questions are: What went wrong? And did we learn anything of value from our misadventure in Vietnam?

Ken Burns’ recent PBS documentary has rekindled interest in the Vietnam conflict. It presents an accessible account of the history and a commendable sampling of participants’ viewpoints. But Burns is limited by his medium. In the first place, the viewer of a documentary film isn’t offered the opportunity to read and consider contemporary documents that influenced American policy, or any of the great literature that came out of the conflict. Secondly, a film can’t afford opportunities to discuss matters the viewer finds particularly interesting or disturbing.

This course will present a chronological history of American involvement in Vietnam, with special attention to the ideologies, attitudes, and misconceptions that shaped Vietnam policy. I hope the students will enrich our discussions with their personal perspectives.

This course is a revision of one offered previously in CVEC.

For further information, click here.

Mike Harper is a retired lawyer. Between college and law school, he was a Marine fighter pilot, serving in Vietnam in 1966. He has taught business and environmental law at the U. of Minnesota Law School, as well as Elder Collegium courses about the Minnesota Dakota Indians, a history of powered flight, and – on two prior occasions – Vietnam.


mike@harp3r.com

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Cheryl Freund: Revisiting Shakespeare – Caesar is Not Dead

8 Tuesdays (April 3 – May 22), 9:30-11:30, Rice Co. Historical Society, Faribault
Enrollment limit: 20

Oscar Wilde (or was it George Bernard Shaw?) once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” To rephrase that sentiment a bit, one might say that good literature is often wasted on the young. Almost everyone has been introduced to a play by William Shakespeare in high school. Some may have found the experience delightful; others, not so much. Nevertheless, it is almost certain that the older one is, the more pleasure one can gain from revisiting a Shakespearean play. What is obtained from living a life – maturity, wisdom, insight – can all be applied to interpreting his plays. The goal of this course is to revisit the beautiful poetic language, literary elements, and description of the human experience presented in the play, Julius Caesar. Participants will have an opportunity to read parts aloud, stopping to analyze and critique what was read and to relate characters’ actions and motivations to current events and one’s own life experiences. At the conclusion of the course, participants should be able to explain why, Julius Caesar, continues to be relevant today.

For further information, click here.

Cheryl Freund is a retired public school administrator, high school English/Social Studies/Humanities teacher, and Adjunct Professor at Concordia University, St. Paul. She has a BS in English/Social Studies, an MA in English, and an EdD in Educational Leadership. Her doctoral dissertation at St. Thomas applied Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of language games to a Minnesota Supreme Court case involving the teaching of evolution and creationism in the science curriculum.

cjfreund@live.com

Gary Gisselman: The American Musical Theatre (2 sections)

8 Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-3:30, Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit each section: 20

This course is a survey course focusing on the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim. We will briefly examine the history and development of the American Musical Theatre through vaudeville, revue, and extravaganza, as well as operetta, minstrelsy, and early musicals leading to “Showboat”. We will also consider American Popular Song. Rodgers and Hammerstein and Sondheim are the 20th century innovators of the musical: R&H established the template for musicals that is still used today, and Sondheim – mentored by Hammerstein – built on that form and responded to new content, times, and multiple collaborators. As there is much material, we will focus on two or three productions of each – to be determined – but will definitely include “Oklahoma” and “Sweeny Todd”.

Instruction will be by lectures, discussion, listening to music, watching videos, and responding to handouts. Three books are recommended: two written by Sondheim, Look I Made a Hat and Finishing the Hat, and a readable history of the American Musical Theatre called Anything Goes by Ethan Mordden. All three are widely available in used form, and the Mordden book is out in paperback form.

For further information, click here.

Gary Gisselman‘s connection with the musical theatre is as a director, notably at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, regional and local Twin Cities theatres, the U. of M. Opera Theatre, and for 18 years at St. Olaf. He is primarily interested in what makes the musical ‘American’ and in why so many love it and why some hate it.

gisselma@stolaf.edu

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Richard Crouter: Listening to Reinhold Niebuhr (Again) in the Trump Era

8 Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30, FiftyNorth*106
Enrollment limit: 18

For the third time in the 21st century a fresh wave of interest is focusing on the Protestant theologian, political writer, and public intellectual, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). A PBS documentary, An American Conscience: The Story of Reinhold Niebuhr, was widely aired in 2017. His life and work as preacher and activist drew from Christian and political teachings about humanity, hammered out amid two world wars, a depression, a cold war, and the coming of age of America as a responsible partner on the world stage. Niebuhr’s perspective on the human condition provides an antidote to extremism, whether on the left or the right, religious or secular, local or national. His long view of history runs directly counter to the world of Twitter.

We will examine his ideas with the help of two books, a paperback I wrote in 2010, Reinhold Niebuhr: On Politics, Religion, and Christian Faith, and Niebuhr’s 1952 title, The Irony of American History (re-issued in 2008 after the George W. Bush presidency). My aim is to make Niebuhr accessible to all who wish to explore his ideas and to develop their own conclusions regarding his relevance in today’s world.

This course is a revision of one offered previously in CVEC.

For further information, click here.

Richard Crouter taught topics in the history of Christian theology, and related fields, at Carleton for thirty-six years. In addition to Niebuhr, his interest in modern religious thought often draws from the German Protestant, Friedrich Schleiermacher (d. 1834), and the Danish Christian, Søren Kierkegaard (d. 1855).

rcrouter@carleton.edu

Bill Woehrlin: Russian Literature in the 20th Century and After (2 sections)

8 Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-3:30, Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit each section: 20

For most Americans, Russian literature of the 19th century is better known and appreciated than Russian literature of the 20th century and after. But this fact needs a modest correction. Russia in the latter of these two periods has undergone more than its share of traumatic experiences (two revolutions, two foreign invasions, failed attempts to maintain both an authoritarian socialist state and a liberal democracy, and finally a dissolution of what had been the Tsarist empire). Against this historical political background, we will read and discuss Russian short stories and a few poems that reflect their times and speak to problems of the human condition.

For further information, click here.

Bill Woehrlin was for 31 years a member of the Carleton History Department, where he taught primarily Russian history, with some attention to modern Europe more generally.

wwoehrli@carleton.edu

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Gary Hoganson: What is Art?     Cancelled

4 Wednesdays (April 4 – 25), 1:00-3:00, Paradise Center for the Arts (Faribault)
Enrollment limit: 20

Can we determine what really is art? Can we separate good from bad art? What tools can we apply to understand, appreciate, and enjoy art more? Does art through the ages tell us anything? In this course we will explore the lives of many artists and styles of art past and present in answering these questions.

Session 1: Living with Art–what is it?

Session 2: Themes and purpose through time.

Session 3: Artists and styles.

Session 4: An interesting look at the lives of artists and a closer look at famous art.

Gary Hoganson is a retired educator in the LeCenter and Faribault School Districts and is currently a member of the Faribault CVEC planning committee.

hogieyda@hickorytech.net

Jim McDonnell: The Stories of Frank O’Connor

8 Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30, FiftyNorth*106
Enrollment limit: 18

Frank O’Connor (1903-1966) was born in Cork City and raised in extreme urban poverty. Some of his best stories, told with great humor, are about childhood, including his autobiographical account of his early years, An Only Child. He took part in the Irish War of Independence (1918-21), and then in the Civil War of 1922-3 on the losing side. His early short story collection, Guests of the Nation (1932), was admired by W.B. Yeats, who dubbed him the “Irish Chekhov”. During World War II, O’Connor came to be regarded as the “enfant terrible” of Irish letters, an angry dissenter in the neutral country dominated by Eamon DeValera, and many of his writings were banned as obscene. His outspoken disdain for the reigning orthodoxies, together with his agnosticism, reputed anti-clericalism, and marital irregularity, alienated him from the Catholic Church. In the 1950s he spent extended periods of time in the US, where his fiction was widely acclaimed. He taught at Harvard, Northwestern, and Stanford, but returned to Ireland with his American wife for the last five years of his life. In addition to 150 short stories– 50 of which were first published in The New Yorker — he authored six volumes of literary criticism, most notably his classic study of the short story, The Lonely Voice.

For further information, click here.

Jim McDonnell retired from the Carleton English Department in 2007 after teaching there for 38 years. He spent most of his early childhood in rural Ireland and returns there frequently.

jmcdonne@carleton.edu

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Robert and Sharon Flaten: Great Decisions 2018

8 Thursdays, 9:30-11:30, Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit: 36

The Elder Collegium is one of 65 groups in Minnesota sponsoring the study of “Great Decisions,” a program of the Foreign Policy Association coordinated by Global Minnesota. Every year over 9,000 Minnesotans study issues selected by the Foreign Policy Association as significant for US interests. This year’s issues are: The Waning of Pax Americana; Russia’s Foreign Policy; China and America, the new geopolitical equation; Media and Foreign Policy; Turkey: A partner in Crisis; U.S. Global Engagements and the Military; South Africa’s Fragile Democracy; Global Health: Progress and Challenges. A brief text will be available covering each of the topics, ten or twelve pages with bibliography, not required, but useful for about $20. Discussions will be led by Ambassador Robert Flaten, with key additions by other former diplomats and professors.

For further information, click here.

Robert Flaten served as the American Ambassador to Rwanda from 1990 to 1993. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1994 after assignments in France, Pakistan, and Israel, and the State Department in Washington. He is past Chair of the Executive Committee of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Ambassador in Residence at St. Olaf College, and Vice President of the United Nations Association of Minnesota. He was recently elected to the American Academy of Diplomacy.
Sharon Flaten was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has bachelor’s degrees from Concordia College Nebraska and Wayne State University, and an MA in educational psychology from Eastern Michigan University. She is retired from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and has coordinated Great Decisions discussions in Stillwater and in Northfield.

raflaten@gmail.com

Troy Dunn and Andy Bohlen: The Real CSI Story

4 Thursdays (April 5 – 26), 1:00-3:00, Faribault Police Dept. Station
Enrollment limit: 20

The aim of this course is to distinguish fact from fiction about criminal investigations. Television accounts of the matter notwithstanding, criminal investigation is in reality an applied science that involves the study of facts used to identify, locate, and prove the guilt of a criminal. Focus will be on what really happens in local criminal investigations. No text is required for the course, but some material will be made available in class at no cost.

Class 1: Criminal Investigations. Criminal Investigation is an applied science that involves the study of facts used to identify, locate, and prove the guilt of a criminal. Learn what really happens at the scene of a crime and all that is involved in a criminal investigation.

Class 2: Crime Lab. We will examine the role of the Police Department’s forensic lab in solving crime. What state-of-the-art equipment is being used today? In this session we will distinguish reality from television!

Class 3: Morgue. What is the job of the county coroner?   When is the coroner involved in a crime scene investigation?  Who is responsible for post mortem care?  How are requests for autopsies handled?

Class 4: Drug Task Force. We will take a closer look at the cooperative efforts of all agencies to combat the epidemic of drug abuse in this country. What are the old and new drugs that are impacting today’s society? How is good medicine leading to bad behavior? How prevalent is drug trafficking throughout our area?

Troy Dunn (left) is Sheriff of Rice County, and Andy Bohlen is Chief of the Faribault Police Department.

 

 

Contact person: Gary Hoganson (hogieyda@hickorytech.net)

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Jan Mitchell: Environmental Literacy

4 Thursdays ( April 19 – May 10), 1:30-3:30, River Bend Nature Center (Faribault)
Enrollment limit: 20

A children’s dictionary recently dropped words like “heron” and “acorn” to make room for “virtual reality” and “gigabyte”. If this bothers you, you’ll be glad to know that River Bend Nature Center is committed to engaging students and visitors with the natural world. Building and sustaining an interest in nature is RBNC’s mission. This class will provide an opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna in this spectacular location. Some time in each session will be spent out on the paved trails, weather permitting, and some time will be indoors, learning about environmental education, climate change, and policy issues. Some reading, some discussion, and some sources for optimism are assured.

For further information, click here.

Jan Mitchell retired from teaching social studies at Northfield High School. She is a volunteer naturalist at River Bend and has taught and co-taught several CVEC classes.

denmark60@gmail.com

Barbara Evans: Northfield Architecture Continued – Historic and Significant

7 Thursdays (April 5 – May 17), 1:30-3:30 or 4:00, Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit: 20

Considering Northfield’s historic buildings, architects, and builders of commercial, educational, and residential structures, we will focus on buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Students do not need to have taken the previous course (Spring 2017). Some background information may be repeated, but specific structures studied in this course will focus on different buildings (there are 65 in the Historic District). From these we will expand our search for significant buildings from more recent eras. Additional buildings are now eligible for National Register status or will be in the future. We will seek to understand the architectural terminology used to describe building features, construction techniques, and styles. We will use Northfield: The History and Architecture of a Community, published by and available at the Northfield Historical Society.

Sessions 3-6 will be expanded to 2 1⁄2 hours from 1:30-4:00 PM, allowing for architectural walking tours and site visits. These sessions will begin at Village on the Cannon, and most of them will require participants to do moderate walking. Participants will provide their own transportation or car pool to the various sites, as needed.

For further information, click here.

Barbara Evans taught American literature, drama, debate, and composition in Rochester, MN for 34 years. She is a graduate of and has been a visiting professor at St. Olaf College. Her interests include architecture, travel, photography, and renovation of her Arts and Crafts home in Northfield. She is a member of the Heritage Preservation Commission.

barbjevans@aol.com

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Walt Stromseth: The Ethical Critique of Our Capitalist Society

8 Fridays, 9:30-11:30, FiftyNorth*106
Enrollment limit: 18

This course will focus on the challenge to our democratic society posed by the increasing economic inequality resulting from our capitalist economy. We will start with two critiques of capitalism: Karl Marx’s claim that modern industrialized society deprives most of its members of a humanly good life; and Thomas Piketty’s recent work arguing that current capitalism results in increasing inequity and injustice in the distribution of wealth. We will then use current articles to examine the impact of increasing inequality on our democratic processes, our health care practices, our educational system, and our environmental policies. In examining the societal consequences of high levels of economic inequality, we will consider such questions as: To what extent is our capitalist economy compatible with our democratic ideals? Must capitalist enterprise result in ecological deterioration and destruction? What constructive changes in the practice of capitalist democracy are being proposed, and are these proposed remedies achievable in our present society?

This course is a revision of one offered previously in CVEC.

For further information, click here.

Walt Stromseth is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at St. Olaf College. His special interest in the history of philosophy led him to teach occasional courses on Marx, given American students’ ignorance of Marx’s influential writings. Professor Stromseth has a continued interest in current critiques of capitalism that echo many of Marx’s criticisms, especially the increasing economic inequality that compromises our commitments as a democratic society to equal opportunity and equal representation.

stroms@stolaf.edu

Emily Urness: Introduction to the Writer’s Workshop Model        Cancelled

8 Fridays, 1:30-3:30, FiftyNorth*106
Enrollment limit: 18

This class allows for the opportunity to experience the unique learning environment of a creative writing graduate student. The writing workshop is a venue where the class is guided and mentored by an instructor through the critique process. Every student will either receive or provide feedback on short pieces of writing during each class session. The aim is to build a writing community in the classroom that fosters growth for the individual writer. In addition to the workshop method, the instructor will provide thoughtful material on craft and examples of different writing styles. Both fiction and creative non-fiction writers are welcome to join this class. Students can expect to have two short pieces of their own writing reviewed during the course of eight weeks, more if time permits. Students will leave this course with a better understanding of the value of the critique during the writing process as well as ideas for completing stronger story drafts.

For further information, click here.

Emily Urness is a writing instructor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. Her writing has been seen in numerous magazines and newspapers and has won her a McKnight Established Artist Grant. She has worked as an editor for both literary and news publications. She enjoys teaching creative writing workshops and has taught them throughout the area as well as at the Loft Literary Center and for the University of Minnesota Extension Program in the Twin Cities. It is her aim to teach the creative writing process to under-served populations.

emilyurness@gmail.com

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