Course Descriptions: Spring 2019

More information on most courses, including schedule and recommended books, can be found online as indicated at the end of each description.
All courses begin the week of March 25 unless otherwise indicated.

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Richard Maus: Searching for Reality – Faith or Science

8 Mondays, 9:30-11:30
Mill City Senior Living, Faribault
Enrollment limit: 18

Humanity has claimed two ways to gain knowledge of reality – Faith or Science.  On topics in which the two paths have disagreed in the last few centuries, science has gained credibility, but the battle/competition continues.  Evolution is the most dramatic example today of the competition between faith and science.

The course begins with a clarification of faith and of science, and then moves to an examination of topics in science, religion, the Bible, Christianity, Catholicism, and baseball.  There will be a short reading assignment each week, some from the instructor’s book Faith Enterprise, and some from duplicated material.  The class is designed to be simple, factual, objective, and accessible to all, one in which participants will have the opportunity to learn new facts and draw new conclusions. Those who are religious will end the journey better informed about their faiths. And those who are “spiritual but not religious” will learn more about the underpinnings of modern Christianity.

For further information, click here

Richard Maus’s 14 years of parochial Catholic education were followed by a university education with degrees in physics and mathematics, and then a 30-year career teaching math, physics, and computers at the secondary and collegiate levels.  His faith and science background came together in retirement in a book he recently released, Faith Enterprise: Making Mysteries and Miracles Vanish.  A survivor of childhood polio, he has also published Lucky One: Making It Past Polio and Despair.  He has co-owned a computer software company and has taught a previous Elder Collegium course on computers.

ramaus@gmail.com

 

Gary Gisselman: The American Musical Theatre

8 Mondays, 1:30-3:30
Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit: 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 the 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.  Check on bookfinder.com or amazon.com for cost and availability.

This is a repeat of a course offered in Winter 2018.

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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Barbara Evans: An American Architecture – Frank Lloyd Wright, Craftsman, and The Prairie School

7 Tuesdays (April 2–May 14), 9:30-11:30 or noon
Kildahl Park Pointe
Enrollment limit: 18

We will first trace the roots of the Arts and Crafts Movement from Europe to America.  The Roycroft Studios and Stickley Craftsman homes then inspire Frank Lloyd Wright, who moves from Arts and Crafts to Prairie School to Organic Architecture.  We will explore how this parallels Minnesota’s and Northfield’s development and architecture by identifying local buildings and architects of these styles.  We will study the 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 as our text.

Class will begin one week after other classes (on April 2) and will meet 7 times. Thirty minutes will be added to sessions 4-7, which will be expanded to 2 1⁄2 hours (9:30-noon), allowing for architectural in-class and walking tours, and site visits.  These sessions will begin at Kildahl Park Pointe.  A few of them will require participants to do moderate walking.  Participants will provide their own transportation to other various sites, as needed.  This class may duplicate information in several previous classes taught about these styles and architects, but condensed and combined here.

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 inter-ests include architecture, travel, photography, and renovation of her Craftsman home in Northfield. She is a member of the Northfield Heritage Pres-ervation Commission.

barbjevans@aol.com

Cheryl Freund: Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Betrayal and Self-discovery

8 Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30
Faribault Senior Living
Enrollment limit: 12

How would you feel if you discovered the very people you valued most (parents & significant others) violated your trust?  How would this knowledge impact your identity – your sense of self and what you are “to be”?  How would relationships be impacted?  These are just a few of the questions considered as we read Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Participants will read lines aloud, stopping at critical junctures to discuss emerging themes, literary devices, and the play’s relevance to our lives. To broaden understanding of the themes of betrayal and self-discovery, participants will read and react to selected chapters from Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree, in which Solomon explores how families come to grips with the knowledge that their offspring/relative is not ordinary.  Eric Kandel, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physiology, says reading Solomon’s book illuminates these issues, and was for him a “mind-opening experience.”  Prepare to engage, question, think.

For further information, click here

Cheryl J. Freund is a retired Faribault Public School educator, administrator, and adjunct professor at Concordia University, St. Paul.  Her academic interests include rhetoric, literature, history, and civics.

cjfreund@live.com

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Bill Woehrlin: Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

8 Tuesdays, 2 sections: 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-3:30
Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit: 20 in each section

We will read Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, in its entirety over the term. Background information, as well as suggestions and questions for critical reading, will be provided by the instructor, but active discussion of the book by the entire class will be encouraged.  The class will use the translation of this masterpiece by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volkhonsky, which will be available at Content Books in Northfield in paperback form for a price of about $16.

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.  He has offered many courses in the Elder Collegium.

wwoehrli@carleton.edu

Dana Strand: The Seventh Art – France Goes to the Movies

8 Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30; weekly screenings on Mondays at 1:30
FiftyNorth 106
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 Hollywood, 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? In this course we’ll take up Almendros’s tantalizing invitation to explore French filmmaking over time and across genres, seeking to appreciate each work at the intersection of historical moment and artistic vision.

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 at FiftyNorth 106 on Mondays beginning at 1:30.  Selected readings will provide us with suggestions for approaching each film.

This is a revised version of the course offered in Spring 2018.

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 book on the short stories of Colette, edited a volume of essays on French Cultural Studies, and written a number of articles on French and North African literature, art, and culture, as well as essays on films directed by (for example) Marcel Pagnol, Claire Denis, Laurent Cantet, and Abdellatif Kechiche.

dstrand@carleton.edu

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Jim McDonnell: The Literature of Northern Ireland, 1966-98

8 Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30
FiftyNorth 106
Enrollment limit: 25

Northern Ireland was constantly in the news between the 1960s and the 1990s because of the apparently endless violence that seemed to be a way of life there. What is perhaps less known is that the same period was one of remarkable literary activity. The most famous representative of this creative period is the Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, whose books of poetry often became international best-sellers. However, his outstanding achievement was by no means an isolated one. As Heaney constantly affirms, nobody is an island in Ireland, and it takes a creative community to nurture an individual talent. Many of his contemporaries are among the finest poets, dramatists, and writers of fiction in modern English language literature. This course obviously cannot do justice to such a diverse achievement, but it will attempt to convey a sense of how the fraught conditions of Northern Ireland inspired some of its noblest spirits to cherish and express the enduring values that human beings should live by.

This is a revised version of courses offered in 2010 and Fall 2018.

For further information, click here

Jim McDonnell retired from Carleton College in 2007 after teaching there for nearly 40 years in the English Department. He started as a specialist in Victorian literature, but in the last twenty years his interests changed to Irish Literature and Shakespeare. He returns to Ireland frequently.

jmcdonne@carleton.edu

Robert and Sharon Flaten: Great Decisions 2019

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

The Cannon Valley 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 U.S. interests.  This year’s issues are: Refugees and Global Migration; The Middle East: Regional Disorder; Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future?; The Rise of Populism in Europe; Decoding U.S.-China Trade; Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics; The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested; and State of the State Department and Diplomacy.  A brief text will be available covering each of the topics, in 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, 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     cassakr@gmail.com

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Rhonda Pownell: Local Municipal Government

8 Thursdays, 1:30-3:30
Village on the Cannon
Enrollment limit: 25

Members of this class who may have forgotten what they learned in high school civics class can relearn the bit about local government by exploring small town government the Northfield way in this course.  We will look at our history and how that is still shaping us today.  We will dive into our City Charter to see how it is guiding our community, hear about local government from those directly involved, discover what it means to be a lovable city, and find out who the League of Minnesota Cities and the League Insurance Trust are and how they are shaping cities across the state.  We will attend a real City Council meeting, go on a tour of City Hall, and conclude by conducting our own “official” City Council meeting.

For further information, click here

Rhonda Pownell is currently the mayor of Northfield and past president of the League of Minnesota Cities.  Over the past 10 years as an elected official, she has served on multiple local boards and commissions as well as being a trustee for the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.  She and her husband David have five children ranging in age from 23 to 13 and have lived in Northfield for 29 years.  She has a BA in Social Work from St. Olaf College.

rhondapownell@gmail.com

Jim Fisher: Sherpas – Now and Then, Here and There

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

In the twentieth century, Sherpas became famous for their mountaineering skills, particularly on Mount Everest; but life at high altitudes gives only a very partial and superficial impression of Sherpa life.  We will explore and examine the much deeper character of this culture as it has developed and continues to develop over time.  We will explore how Sherpas have adapted to the changing times, examining in particular the impact of tourism and transnationalism.  We will use the tools of anthropology to understand how Sherpas have lived in the Mount Everest region for several generations and are now making lives in new places, such as Queens, New York.

For further information, click here

Jim Fisher is a retired Carleton professor of anthropology.  He served in the Peace Corps in Nepal and subsequently worked with Sir Edmund Hillary’s school-building projects there.  He has lived among, studied, and written about Nepali and, more particularly, Sherpa people for fifty years.

jfisher@carleton.edu

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Logan Ledman & Samuel Temple: Athens and Eden – The Histories of Faribault and Northfield

8 Fridays, 3:00-5:00
Buckham West (formerly Faribault Senior Center)
Enrollment limit: 20

That title you claim for this city: the Athens of the West.”
     –On Faribault, Reverend Thomas O’Gorman, 1882

You will find yourself in one of the loveliest of countries, an embryo Eden.”
     –On Northfield, Anonymous, 1852

In the year 1855, the cities of Faribault and Northfield were both platted in the Minnesota Territory.  For enigmatic part-Dakota trader Alexander Faribault and radical abolitionist John North, the namesakes of their respective towns, the dreams they built in that year would be put to the test.  In a journey that spans the 19th century – the exile of the Dakota peoples, the heroism of the failed Northfield Bank Raid, and how the paths of two towns curved alongside Minnesota history – this course will examine how suffering, triumph, growth, and love shaped our communities.

For further information, click here

Logan Ledman is a board member and volunteer at the Northfield Historical Society, and a representative on Northfield’s Heritage Preservation Commission.  As part of the SCOPE program, he was one of thirty writers to contribute to the first comprehensive Northfield history book for the general audience, Eden on the CannonSamuel Temple is a lifelong Faribault resident and a sixth-generation Rice Countian.  Recipient of the “Unsung Hero of Faribault” award, he is also a two-time nominee for Best Actor in Southern MN.  Logan and Samuel collaborated on the docuseries 1855, exploring Faribault’s history. They wrote and directed the theatrical adaptation of local history, A Celebration of Faribault, which premiered in the fall of 2018.  Both are high school seniors.

1855faribault@gmail.com