Fall 2023 Courses and Descriptions

CVEC is offering fifteen wonderful courses this fall. This page contains (1) a summary listing of the title, instructor, time and place of each course, and (2) a full description of each course with a brief biography of each instructor.

Start by scrolling down the list of courses. When you want to view the full information about a course and instructor, click on the “down” arrow near the right-hand margin of the page opposite the course name. The full course description will appear immediately below, and the arrow you clicked will become an “up” arrow. To hide the course description again, click on that “up” arrow and the course description will again be hidden.

History and Current State of U.S. Policing
Joe Moravchik
Mondays 9:30-11:30, Sept. 11-Oct. 30
FiftyNorth, Enrollment limit 20
Joe Moravchik head shot
Moravchik, Joe

Joe Moravchik has a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a J. D. from the William Mitchell College of Law.  Holder of a State of Wisconsin DOJ Board of Standards Police Officer’s License, he did his training at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s & Police Academy. Rising through the ranks of the Racine, WI Police Department he was a multi-time winner of the Wisconsin Attorney General’s prestigious Exemplary Officer Award for high quality performance and professional dedication.   jmoravchik@mchsi.com

Overview:  In this course we will examine the history and current state of policing in America: the laws, amendments and court cases that guide policing; the authority and role of the police; police operations and philosophies; police discretion; police terminology such as reasonable articulable suspicion, totality of circumstances, and probable cause; searches; surveillance and technology; police and the media; crimes and contemporary cases; and the importance of the role of policing, and community trust in policing. The goal is to broaden understanding and provide needed context for the serious and important public policy discussions regarding policing that are underway at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Each class will involve lectures, PowerPoint/Google Slides, short videos, music, and occasional partner work to set up class discussions.  Preparation for class will include reading court cases and contemporary news articles and listening to podcasts.  Joe will provide the readings for all classes at the first meeting of the class.

Class #1: To prepare for our first class, listen to the KYMN podcast Public Policy This Week, originally broadcast Sept. 30th, 2022. Joe and St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell (Ret.) discuss their police careers and the current state of U.S. policing: https://kymnradio.net/2022/09/30/public-policy-this-week-chief-todd-axtell-ret-of-the-st-p aul-police-dept/ . In class, we will discuss the role of police in our society, and the major changes and challenges to police service, focusing on the past 25 years, including The North Hollywood Shootout, Columbine, September 11, 2001, and the George Floyd in-custody death.  

Class #2: To prepare for our second class, listen to the KYMN podcast Public Policy This Week, December 2, 2022 edition. Joe interviews Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott, and Rice County Behavioral Health Supervisor Dante Hummel-Langerfeld on the topic of 1st responder mental health care: https://kymnradio.net/2022/12/02/public-policy-this-week-mental-health-and-law-enforcement/  We’re going to be joined in class by a member of the Northfield P.D. to discuss and examine directly a modern patrol car and the equipment of a police officer.  Additionally, we will discuss police operations, and policing theory, from the broken windows theory all the way to predictive policing and everything in-between. 

Class #3: To prepare for our third class, listen to the KYMN podcast Public Policy This Week, July 15 2022 edition.  Joe interviews Dr. James Densley on the topic of mass shootings:  https://kymnradio.net/2022/07/15/public-policy-this-week-gun-violence-and-mass-shootings-with-dr-james-densley/  Additionally, read the court cases Terry v. Ohio, Minnesota v. Dickerson, and Chimel v. California. In class, we’re going to discuss the history of U.S. policing, police legitimacy, the origins of our system of laws, and the 4th Amendment, including what to expect when the police show up at your door.  

Class #4: To prepare for our fourth class, listen to the KYMN podcast Public Policy This Week, June 23, 2023 edition. Joe interviews Dr. James Densley on the topic of gangs:  https://kymnradio.net/2023/06/23/public-policy-this-week-gangs-and-gang-violence-withdr-james-densley-6-23-23/.  Additionally, read the case Miranda v. Arizona. In class, we will discuss the court cases that shape police procedure, police investigative stops and arrest procedure, including the concepts of reasonable articulable suspicion and probable cause, searches, detaining a citizen, the 5th Amendment, and due process.

Class #5: To prepare for our fifth class, read the court cases New York v. Belton and Arizona v. Gant. In class, we will continue our discussion of police procedure:  traffic stops, vehicle and foot pursuits, K9’s, DUI/implied consent, the use of force continuum, qualified immunity, and liability.

Class #6: To prepare for our sixth class, listen to the KYMN podcast Public Policy This Week August 18th, 2023 edition. Joe interviews Dr. Andrew Baker of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office on the topic of the role of the medical examiner: Podcast Link Forthcoming in August. In class, we will discuss crime scene investigation and case studies, including the topics of jurisdiction, chain of custody, grid searches, biological evidence, digital evidence and latent prints, the role of the medical examiner, notification, and the media.

Class #7: To prepare for our seventh class, there will be readings on former police officers Jeronimo Yanez, Derek Chauvin, Kim Potter, and Thomas Lane. We will discuss a profession in crisis, focusing on those Minnesota cases—especially the case of Thomas Lane: wrongful political prosecution?  In addition, we will examine cracks in police/public trust and the media’s role in that, referencing the cases of Louis Gates Jr., Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown.

Class #8: To prepare for our eighth class there will be readings on police reform and the modern role of police in our society.  Class discussion will focus on the topics of recruiting/hiring, training, trust; the relationship between the District Attorney’s Office and the police; the homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill; repeat offenders, incarceration and recidivism, interventions, and the undercurrent of violence.

Time and Free Will – Cancelled, 9/5/23
Carol Rutz
Mondays 9:30-11:30, Sept. 11-Oct. 30
Community Action Center, Enrollment limit 20
Carol Rutz headshot

Carol Rutz worked at Carleton College for 30 years, the last 20 of which as director of the writing program. She has taken at least a dozen CVEC courses; this is her fourth as an instructor. From 2019 to 2023, she served as executive director of the CVEC.  crutz@carleton.edu

Overview:  In this course two authors known for writing science fiction treat the phenomenon of time. Jack Finney wrote the time-travel classic, Time and Again, in 1970; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., wrote one of his final works, Timequake, in 1997. Finney presents a U.S. government-funded project to achieve travel into the past—and return—initially to solve a minor mystery. Vonnegut offers a doomsday story about a sudden contraction of the universe with ghastly consequences. Finney plays on human curiosity as well as hidden motives in a leisurely, detailed narrative that skillfully brings a past period to life.  Vonnegut wraps the “timequake” that affected all humanity around his own biography, often with the help of characters from his novels. In both books, the tension between determinism (is history complete as recorded?) and free will (can humans affect the future?) reverberates.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Both Time and Again and Timequake are available new, used, in libraries, and in electronic versions.  Finney’s book on bookfinder.com ranges from $4-$18, depending on the edition. Vonnegut’s ranges from $3-$15. Additional materials will be provided electronically via links and .pdf files. A recent documentary on Vonnegut’s life, “Unstuck in Time,” will be required at a streaming cost of $4-$6. Expect weekly reading assignments of approximately 100 pages.

Week 1  Finney, Introduction – Chapter 6 (please read before the first day)

Week 2  Finney, Chapter 7 – Chapter 12

Week 3  Finney, Chapter 13 – Chapter 17

Week 4  Finney, Chapter 18 – Chapter 20 (over 100 pp. – pace yourselves)

Week 5  Finney, Chapter 21 – end of book, including epilogue

Week 6  Vonnegut, stream documentary, “Unstuck in Time;” read prologue – Chapter 17. (Chapters are very short.)

Week 7  Vonnegut, Chapter 18 – Chapter 41

Week 8 Vonnegut, Chapter 42 – end of book, including epilogue

“Are you talking to me?” – Films of Martin Scorsese
Peter Bailey
Mondays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 11-Oct. 30
Online via Zoom, Enrollment limit 15

Peter Bailey is Piskor Professor of English Emeritus at St. Lawrence University.  His teaching and writing focuses on literary and film criticism.  He is the author of Reading Stanley Elkin (1985), The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen (2003, 2nd ed. 2016)and Rabbit (Un)Redeemed: The Drama of Belief in John Updike’s Fiction (2006), along with edited volumes on Allen, Kubrick, J.D. Salinger, and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. For CVEC he taught Shining On—Films of Stanley Kubrick in Spring 2023.  pbailey@stlawu.edu

Overview:  Although best known as the cinematic godfather of gangster films (Mean Streets, GoodfellasCasinoThe Departed, and The Irishman), Martin Scorsese has also directed a remarkable variety of movies in other genres: melodrama (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore), late film noir (Taxi Driver), biopics (Raging Bull, The Aviator), historical epic (Gangs of New York), dark comedy (The King of Comedy), novel adaptation (The Age of Innocence), musical (New York, New York), and psychological thriller (Shutter Island), as well as less readily categorizable features like After Hours,The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Wolf of Wall Street.  Because he is also one of American cinema’s most articulate and insightful commentators on the history and techniques of film production, this course will take advantage of his substantial interviews on his work and on those filmmakers he most admires, viewing a portion of Scorsese’s oeuvre through his eyes as well as through the eyes of those in the class through the discussion of nine of his major films. 

Course materials and Class Schedule: Before each class session, I will provide students with an extensive handout on the film for that week, the document incorporating production details, cast and crew interviews, insights from Scorsese, and excerpts from substantial movie reviews and film criticism.  These materials, in addition to the book of Scorsese interviews students will acquire (Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese, Scorsese by Ebert, $16 new at Amazon, used $6.72 up) offer a synoptic vision of the Scorsese film of the week, while introducing a few of the critical debates the movie provoked, thereby enriching the starting points of our conversations.  After discussing the first two major Scorsese movies at our first class, we will cover one film per class (all course films are available on Amazon Prime at an average rental cost of $4 each):

Week 1:  Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Week 2: Taxi Driver

Week 3:  Raging Bull

Week 4: Goodfellas

Week 5: Gangs of New York

Week 6: The Age of Innocence

Week 7:  Shutter Island

Week 8: Hugo

Poetry – “An Echo Asking a Shadow to Dance” (Carl Sandberg)
Marie Gery
Mondays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 11-Oct. 30
Cannon Valley Friends Meetinghouse, Enrollment limit 20

Marie Gery writes poems and stories, teaches now and then, and gardens seasonally.  Poems published in Northfield Women Poets, now Penchant, anthologies, and other publications. Some poems are placed at migrant graves in the Sonoran Desert.  She received a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant for writing, a place at Ragdale, participated in the Mentor Program at The Loft, and was one of eight teachers selected for an NEA summer fellowship in storytelling and writing at the Kennedy Center.  voglgery1@msn.com                       

Overview:  Poetry need not rhyme nor be limited to 17 syllables.  Instead, poetry offers new ways to look at the familiar.  Poetry isn’t meant to Speed Read.  We’ll read, ponder, maybe wonder what exactly this is about, and move into discussion.  Poetry is part of early language, and we’ll take a look at a bit of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and continue.  You may recognize some of these poets and wonder about others: e. e. cummings, T. S Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Bly, Raymond Roseliep, Phillis Wheatley, William Stafford, Meridel Le Sueur, Marilyn Nelson, and other poets as well.  Nikki Giovanni offers this, “We are all either wheels or connectors.  Whichever we are, we must find truth and balance which is a bicycle.” The goal of this class is to find, read, enjoy poetry, and to pedal well.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Students are asked to purchase Marilyn Nelson, A Wreath for Emmett Till (new $10 or less, used $4 or less on bookfinder.com) for our Week 6 class.  All other readings will be provided a week ahead of class either as pdf email attachments or in hard copy distributed in class.

Weeks 1 and 2:  Poems as Stories – T.S. Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay, e.e. cummings, et al.

Week 3:  Poets: Meridel Le Seuer, Marge Piercy, Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, Natsha Trethewey

Week 4:  Poets: William Stafford, W. H. Auden, W. B. Yeats, Howard Nemerov, et al.

Week 5:  Poetry in Translation: Robert Bly, Wislawa Szymborska, Brodsky, Yevtushenko

Week 6:  Marilyn Nelson – A Wreath for Emmett Till

Weeks 7 and 8:  Minnesota Poets, past and present, including Northfield poets.                  

Modern Scientific Cosmology
Joel Weisberg
Mondays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 11-Oct. 9 and Oct. 23-Nov. 6 (Note: no class on October 16; an extra class has been added on November 6)
Village on the Cannon, Enrollment limit 20

Joel Weisberg is Stark Professor of Physics and Astronomy and the Natural Sciences, Emeritus, at Carleton College.  He taught astronomy, cosmology, physics, and science and society courses at Carleton for 35 years, after a similar three-year stint at Princeton.  He and his students used radio telescopes across the world to study pulsars, the interstellar medium, and general relativity.  jweisber@carleton.edu

Overview:  Cosmology is the investigation of the past, present, and future history of the universe and of its general nature.  Virtually all cultures throughout history have attempted to wrestle with cosmological questions, such as the origin of the universe.  In the last hundred years, however, we have managed to perform key observations of the nature of the universe.  Now, a cosmology must not conflict with these observations if it is to be considered scientifically viable.  This development marks a watershed moment, which can be called the era of Modern Scientific Cosmology.

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Students are asked to purchase Cosmology: The Science of the Universe2ndedition, by Edward Harrison.  (Cambridge University Press, 2000). Available as paperback (reprinted 2022, $44.99 new); or as hardcover, used, online at bookfinder.com for $20 to $50. (The instructor also has several hardcover copies available from former students for $20. First come, first served.)  Do not purchase the first edition! Although many cosmology books for intelligent laypeople have been published since Harrison’s 2nd edition, and although the field is fast-moving, I have not been able to find a newer one that is as accessible and thought-provoking. Students will also read some Scientific American-level articles to cover cosmological advances made since the Harrison 2nd edition’s original (2000) publication.  These will be sent online to class members as pdf’s, so as to not accrue printing costs.  I estimate ~6 articles × ~ 6 pages/article ≈ 36 pages.

Please read the following selections before class so that we can meaningfully discuss them in class. You might find it useful to take notes as you read, in order to inform your in-class discussion. Also, as you read, please jot down at least one question to send to the instructor by noon of the class day. This gives him (barely) enough time to organize your questions logically and to choose those most useful to address in class.

Note: Each chapter concludes with a “Reflections” section, which is optional. These Reflections frequently consist of very thought-provoking and fascinating questions; though their level varies widely.  We will discuss some of them in class, and of course you are free to look at them beforehand if you wish!

Note for the listing below: The meaning of fractional pages is as follows. Harrison divides each page into two columns, so 117.3 implies 0.3 (or 30%) of page 117, which means a little over halfway down the first column (and 117.6 means a little past the start of the second column).

Class 1 — Sep. 11 — 23 total pages

Chapter 1: “What is Cosmology?”; Chapter 4: “Cosmology after Newton and before Einstein”

Class 2 — Sep. 18 — 22 total pages

Chapter 5: “Stars”; Chapter 6 through page 117.3 (more on stars)

Class 3 — Sep. 25 — 23 total pages

Finish Chapter 6: Normal and Active Galaxies; Chapter 7: “Location and the Cosmic Center”; Chapter 8 through page 149.6: Containment

Class 4 — Oct. 2 — 24 total pages

Finish Chapter 8: “Containment and the Cosmic Edge”; Chapter 9: “Space & Time”

Class 5 — Oct. 9 — 33 total pages

Chapter 10: “Curved Space” through page 194.3; Chapter 11: “Special Relativity” through page 209.8; Chapter 12: General relativity and curved space, pages 224.5-225.2; Chapter 14: “Expansion of the Universe” through page 282.55; Scientific American: “Misconceptions about the Big Bang” (pdf)

Oct. 16 — NO CLASS

Class 6 — Oct. 23 — 14 total pages

More portions of Chapter 14; Chapter 18: “The Many Universes” through page 355.8; American Scientist: “Tearing Apart the Universe [with Dark Energy]”

Class 7 — Oct. 30 — 21 total pages

Chapter 19: “Observational Cosmology” through page 391.5; American Scientist: “The Dark Side of the Universe” (pdf); Chapter 20: “The Early Universe” through page 415.8

Class 8 — Nov. 6 — 20 total pages

Chapter 13: Various readings on Black Holes; Chapter 26: “Life in the Universe” pages 535.0-540.7, and other readings on life beyond Earth

Fossil Fuels Usage and the Plastic Pollutants They Produce
Art Higinbotham
Tuesdays 9:30-11:00, Sept. 12-Oct. 31
Village on the Cannon, Enrollment limit 20
Art Higinbotham

Art Higinbotham is a graduate of Amherst College and earned his master’s degree in chemical engineering from M.I.T.  He started his industrial career with Esso Standard Eastern at a refinery in Bombay, India.  He then worked for 3M as a manufacturing, research and engineering director, including a stint in Brazil, culminating in a senior management position in the pressure sensitive tape business. He has taught three previous courses for CVEC on climate change. arthur@higinbotham.com

Overview:  Fossil fuels (petroleum, gas and coal) are the principal contributors to the increase in greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and its impact on earth’s climate.  In this course we will review the tipping points in the climate change cycle and identify the fossil fuel producers and nations. But the primary focus, insufficiently attended to in energy policy discussions, will be the effect five fossil fuel derivatives—synthetic polymers—are having on our environment.  These polymers include polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene terephthalate, which make up ¾ of the plastics we produce.  We will examine which of these plastics are used for structural purposes and which are disposed of after use.  And we will look at our recycling efforts for disposable plastics, and the photo-degradability and biodegradability of each disposable plastic, concluding with how we can minimize the use of disposable plastics.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  There will be no purchased text; handouts of readings will be made at each class and will also be available on-line. 

Week 1:   Climate Change Cycles 

Week 2:   Climate Change Tipping Points

Week 3:   Role of Fossil Fuels in Climate Change

Week 4:   Fossil Fuel Producers:  Petroleum, Natural Gas, Coal

Week 5:   Fossil Fuel Users:  Transportation, Commercial, Residential, Industrial

Week 6:   Industrial Synthetic Polymers: Disposable; Structural

Week 7:   Uses of Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polystyrene, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Polyvinyl chloride; Biodegradability and Photodegradability of Each

Week 8:   Plastics Disposability and Recyclability; Responsibility of Governments, Corporations, Individuals

History and Mathematics of Secret Codes
Kay Smith
Tuesdays 9:30-11:30, Sept. 12-Oct. 31
Community Action Center, Enrollment limit 20
Kay Smith head shot/cropped

Kay Smith taught mathematics for thirty-seven years at St. Olaf College, where she developed a course in cryptology for mathematics majors.  She holds a B.S. from Bucknell University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University.  Currently Kay volunteers as a tutor for the Northfield Community College Collaborative.  smithk@stolaf.edu

Overview:  For more than 2500 years, military and government leaders, as well as private citizens, have used codes to make their communications readable only by the intended recipients. Cracking a code was often critical in defeating an enemy. Today codes are essential for information security. The history of codes involves a constant battle between codemakers and codebreakers; when methods were developed to crack an existing code, more sophisticated codes were devised. Frequently ideas and techniques from mathematics were employed to design and analyze codes. In this course, we will survey significant events in the history of cryptology (the study of codes) and consider contemporary issues related to secrecy.  Using historical examples, we will study several important codes and practice writing messages and breaking these codes.  Relevant mathematical concepts will be explained; only basic arithmetic will be assumed.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Required text is The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh (ISBN 0-385-49532-3), available through bookfinder.com for as little as $16 new or $5 used.  From the back of the book: “Combining a storyteller’s sense of drama with a scientist’s appreciation for technical perfection, Singh traces the evolution of its methods and reveals its dramatic effects on wars, nations, and individual lives.”  Note:  there is also another book by Singh called The Code BookThe Secrets Behind Codebreaking, which is a version for young adults.  Be sure to check the ISBN to purchase the correct book. Excerpts from other sources will be provided at no additional cost to students in pdf form or through links to websites.

In class we will practice enciphering and deciphering messages using the methods we are studying and learn techniques for cracking codes.  We will also watch short videos, discuss the assigned reading, and present some history not covered in the text. Optional homework exercises will give further practice in code making and breaking. 

Class 1:  Introduction and Transposition Ciphers.  Reading: Introduction and pages 1 – 14 of The Code Book.  Topics: basic vocabulary of cryptology, steganography (hidden writing), transposition ciphers including rail fence and route ciphers, transposition devices – scytale, Cardano grille.

Class 2:  Cryptology before 1550.  Reading: Finish chapter 1 of The Code Book.  Topics: Viking cryptography, monoalphabetic substitution ciphers including Polybius and Caesar ciphers, deciphering using frequency analysis, book codes, nomenclators.

Class 3:   1550 – 1900.  Reading: Chapter 2 of The Code Book.  Topics: polyalphabetic substitution ciphers, Vigenère cipher, Babbage cryptanalysis of Vigenère cipher, Revolutionary and Civil War cryptography, Alberti Disk and wheel ciphers.

Class 4:  World War I and the interwar period.  Reading: Chapter 3 of The Code Book.  Topics: impact of the telegraph, Playfair and ADGVX ciphers, Zimmerman telegram, onetime pad, development of Enigma machine.

Class 5:  World War II and Establishment of NSA.  Reading: Chapter 4 and pages 195-201 from Chapter 5 of The Code Book.  Topics:  cracking Enigma, Red and Purple (Japanese codes), SIGABA (US cipher machine), Navajo code talkers.

Class 6:  1970’s.  Reading: Chapter 6 in The Code Book.  Topics: DES (data encryption standard), public key cryptography, RSA, primality testing.

Class 7:  Cryptology today.  Reading: Chapter 7 in The Code Book.  Topics: role of cryptography in information security – confidentiality, integrity of data, authenticity, non-repudiation; government regulation, cyberwarfare.

Class 8:  Future directions and influence on the arts.  Reading: Chapter 8 in The Code Book. Topics: quantum and post-quantum cryptography, DNA cryptography; cryptography and literature, music, and art.

The Function of Poetry at the Present Time
Doug Green
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30, Sept 12-Oct. 31
Online via Zoom, Enrollment limit 15
Doug Green head shot

D. E. (Doug) Green taught English at Augsburg University for 33 years. He has published articles on Shakespeare, general-interest essays, and poetry. His poems have been recognized in local, regional, and national venues and several appear on the sidewalks of Northfield, MN. His first collection, Jumping the Median, was published in 2019 by Encircle Publications.  His chapbook Catastrophizing in Catastrophe appeared in March 2023.  Doug likes to say that he has been an occasional poet for 40 years.  greendepoet@gmail.com

Overview:  This course takes its name from the Victorian essayist and poet Matthew Arnold’s famous essay “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time.” In this class we will undertake a communal and exploratory introduction to the current renaissance in contemporary poetry and renewed interest in the medium generally. Relying on the many internet collections and resources (The Academy of American PoetsPoetry FoundationPoetry 180The Slowdown, and others), we will focus primarily on recent American works but also consider poets such as Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and other writers of perennial interest.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Depending on their difficulty, we’ll read 10-15 poems each week, discuss about half closely in class, and consider what we’ve learned about poetry from the week’s readings, as well as what questions they have raised—morally, politically, aesthetically. Our overarching question is this: What access to meaning does poetry offer us now that other media cannot, do not, or have in shorter supply?

Each week I will prepare and email a PDF of 5-10 poems we’ll be focusing on the following week. Before each meeting, please read these poems two or more times, including at least once out loud, and think about them. Learning who is in the class, what interests you, and what I think might interest you or even challenge you will help me tailor these weekly readings to our group. In addition you’ll get a list of websites that include many more poems as well as online resources, like glossaries of poetic terms. I will occasionally ask you to select from one of these resources a poem to present to the class. So everything you need for this class will be available digitally. At our final class you’ll present a short statement on why and/or how poetry matters to you and a selected illustrative poem.

Preliminary Schedule, subject to change:

Week 1: Priming the Poetic Pump: Edward Hirsch’s “How to Read a Poem” (online). Shakespeare, Whitman, Dickinson, Hughes, Brooks (first of our weekly PDFs)

Week 2: The Function(s) of Poetry I: What does poetry offer us that other media generally do not?

Week 3: Poetry & Truth(s).

Week 4: Poetry, Society & Politics.

Week 5: The Function(s) of Poetry II: Poetry as Necessity?  Audre Lorde and more.

Week 6: Poetry &/as Performance – Spoken Word and more.

Week 7: Who are your poets? – Minnesota poets and more.

Week 8: The Function(s) of Poetry III: [How/Why] does poetry matter to you?  Your short response statements and your selected poems.

How Shall We Live? American Utopian Experiments
L. DeAne Lagerquist
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 12-Oct. 31
Village on the Cannon, Enrollment limit 20

L. DeAne Lagerquist is Professor Emerita of Religion at St. Olaf College; she also taught in the American Conversations program and abroad. Her courses took up American religion and culture, global Lutheranism, sacred space in Greece & Turkey, and Bible and visual art. l.deanelagerquist@gmail.com

Overview: Since the early 1600s and into the present many Americans have withdrawn from society to establish more perfect, intentional communities. If Puritans strove for holiness, others pursued freedom. If Latter Day Saints were inspired by a new revelation, others rejected religion entirely. Not many of these utopian experiments endured longer than a few decades, but all can inform contemporary efforts to address perennial concerns about belonging and the organization of community life. We will explore the ideals, practices, and legacy of communities such as the Shakers, the Amana Colonies, and Father Divine’s Peace Mission with an eye to the insights they offer to the larger American society today.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  This course assumes that participants are curious about and invested in community life as an ongoing experiment in the living out of ideals that are simultaneously shared, contested, and evolving. While the sources and content of ideals vary, all communities strive to put theirs into practice as they determine such things as requirements for membership, standards of behavior, division of labor, qualifications for leadership, and procedures for decision making. Although often small and seldom long lasting, informed by their particular vision for life together, intentional communities have experimented with alternative gender roles, racial identity, family configuration, built environments, diet, and more. 

Each week we’ll explore one or more communities (usually historic, but perhaps also some fictional) examining their stated ideals, actual practices, and legacy. Preparatory readings will provide historical background and interpretation; usually there will be some primary source material either written or visual as well. Most readings will be distributed as electronic documents in a weekly email. In addition, students should gain access to two books: Erik Reece, Utopia Drive (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016, available through bookfinder.com for less than $20 new or less than $5 used and free through Project Gutenberg) and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (Dover Thrift or any other edition, available through bookfinder.com for less than $7 new or $4 used and free through Project Gutenberg). My comments and our discussion will first endeavor to consider each community on its own terms and in its specific historical, social context and then to put the communities into conversation with each other. Lastly, we will ask what each separately and all together offer to our current efforts to live in American communities.

Tentative weekly focus and schedule:   The organization of this class is a hybrid of thematic and chronological. Each week we will focus on a type of community and consider one or more instances as well as common, distinctive characteristics. Additional communities may be introduced in the class session.

Advance materials will include websites (as available), brief introductions from reference works, and excerpts from primary documents (see week two, for example).

Week 1:  Utopia is no place: the concept, its origins, and types. We will set up the topics and issues that will guide our consideration of specific communities. We may begin with consideration of Puritans and Quakers in the early decades of European colonization of North America.

  • Introduction from a general work such as Jyotsna Sreenivasan, Utopias in American History (ABC-Clio, 2008).
  • ‘Utopia Drive’ Chronicles ‘Quiet Revolutionaries’ Who Tried To Live Outside Society. NPR Interview with Erik Reece, author of Utopia Drive (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016)Also at least part of his first chapter.
  • Representative definitions of intentional community from Timothy Miller, The Encyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communities (Richard W. Cooper Press, 2015)
  • Optional: McLoughlin, William G. “Pietism and the American Character.” American Quarterly 17, no. 2 (1965): 163–86.

Week 2:  Religious and communal.

  • Websites: Ephrata CloisterAmana Colonies, Amish
  • Short introductions from reference work such as Jyotsna Sreenivasan, Utopias in American History (ABC-Clio, 2008).
  • Excerpts from primary documents.
  • Optional: longer treatments of the communities.

Week 3:  Associated with “New” Religions: Shakers, LDS

Week 4:  Other 19th century experiments: Oneida, New Harmony, Brooks Farm (Fruitlands) 

Week 5:  Turn of the century Chicago: Pullman, Columbian Exposition

Week 6:  Two fictional views: 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland.

Excerpts from Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward. Available free via Project Gutenberg.

Week 7:  Addressing race: 

Father Divine’s Peace Mission 

Freedmen’s Towns such as Eastonville, FL

Week 8:  Cults and communes in the 20th century

Legacies of Tyranny
Pat Johnson
Wednesdays 9:30-11:30, Sept. 13-Nov. 1
Cannon Valley Friends Meetinghouse, Enrollment limit 20

Pat Johnson taught philosophy at the University of Dayton for thirty-five years. While there she served as Director of Women’s Studies, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Alumni Chair in Humanities.  She has taught several courses for CVEC and taken a number of others.  pjohnson2@udayton.edu

Overview:  When asked what form of government those at the Constitutional convention had written, Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said, “It’s a Republic, if you can keep it.”  He also said that the executive would always be increasing until we had a monarchy.  He could have added that an additional possibility was a tyranny. In a tyranny, one person or group usurps power and circumvents law to achieve their own benefit.  Many contemporary democracies are threatened by the possibilities, and historical legacies, of tyranny and totalitarianism. We will read Timothy Snyder’s, On Tyranny:  Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Together we will reflect on the legacies of tyranny and how to nurture our fragile democracy. 

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  There is one required text—Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (Tim Duggan books, 2017).  I will ask Content to order copies.  It is readily available from other sources (see bookfinder.com) for as little as $7 new and $4 used.  There is an illustrated version of the book if anyone is interested in that format.  Other short readings and resources related to Snyder’s remarks will be provided either via online links or in electronic form.  Discussion questions will be provided for each class.

Week 1: Introduction to the course. Read the “Prologue” (9-13) and “Do not obey in advance” (17-21).

Week 2: Read “Defend institutions” (22-25), “Beware the one-party state” (26-31), and “Take responsibility for the face of the world” (32-37).

Week 3: Read “Remember professional ethics” (38-41), “Be wary of paramilitaries” (42-46), and “Be reflective if you must be armed” (47-50).

Week 4: Read “Stand out” (51-58), “Be kind to our language” (59-64), and “Believe in truth” (65-72).

Week 5:  Read “Investigate” (72-80), “Make eye contact and small talk” (81-82), and “Practice corporeal politics” (83-86).

Week 6:  Read “Establish a private life” (87-91), “Contribute to good causes” (92-94), and “Learn from peers in other countries” (95-98).

Week 7:  Read “Listen for dangerous words” (99-102), “Be calm when the unthinkable arrives” (103-110), and “Be a patriot” (111-114).

Week 8:  Read “Be as courageous as you can” (115) and “Epilogue” (117-126).

Buddhism Through Poetry
Roger Jackson
Wednesdays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 13-Nov. 1
Village on the Cannon, Enrollment limit 20
Roger Jackson head shot (older)

Roger Jackson is John W. Nason Professor of Asian Studies and Religion, Emeritus at Carleton College. He has a special interest in South Asian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, meditation systems, and poetry, as well as modern Buddhist thought. He is the author of, inter aliaIs Enlightenment Possible?, Tantric Treasures, Rebirth, and is co-editor of Tibetan Literature and Buddhist Theology. Since retiring from Carleton in 2016, he has continued to research, write, and teach regularly at colleges and Buddhist centers throughout the U.S.  rjackson@carleton.edu

Overview:  Buddhist traditions have been expressed in many forms over the past 2500 years, through enduring social institutions, sublime works of art and architecture, entrancing rituals, the personal example of countless charismatic masters, and a vast literature that includes doctrinal formulae, moral fables, nuanced psychology, vertiginous metaphysical speculations, sacred biographies, and ritual recipe books. The lens through which we will approach Buddhism in this course is poetic: we will survey a range of Buddhist verse, with a special focus on works that convey something of the flavor of Buddhist “enlightenment” experience. These will include an epic life of the Buddha, poems of early monks and nuns from India, celebrations of such central Buddhist virtues as wisdom and compassion, expressions of the gnostic and countercultural tantric path, and selected poetry from the Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese cultural spheres, as well as instances of Buddhist verse by modern authors.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Although each class session will include some presentation by the instructor (mostly to provide historical and cultural context), the primary emphasis will be on discussion of the assigned readings, both as a whole class and in smaller groups.

Some readings for seven of the classes (9/13, 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1) have been pulled together and made available in print form through a course-book (CB) prepared by the instructor.  The $20 cost of the course book will be added to the cost of the course upon registration.  Other books for purchase are (in order of appearance):

Andrew Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism. Birmingham, U.K. Windhorse Publications, 1994. (Available through bookfinder.com for as little as $15 new and $5 used) [Sections to be read for each of the first seven classes]

Andrew Schelling and Anne Waldman, trans. Songs of the Sons and Daughters of the Buddha. Boulder: Shambhala, 2020 (available through bookfinder.com new or used for as little as $16). [Class of 9/20]

Bashō. On Love and Barley: Haiku of Bashō. Trans. Lucien Stryk. New York: Penguin, 1986. (Available through bookfinder.com for as little as $12 new and $7 used). [Class of 10/25]

On average, students should expect to read 85 pages per week (with a high of 97 and a low of 68). Remember: a page of poetry is not as “crowded” as a page of prose; on the other hand, poetry – especially from an unfamiliar culture – often requires more attention than prose. In that sense, it probably evens out, so that 85 pages is 85 pages.

Week 1 (9/13): The Life and Qualities of the Buddha

The life of Śākyamuni Buddha (d. circa 400 BCE) is very much the paradigmatic Buddhist life, in that all his followers strive to attain – if not in this life, then in some future life – the same degree of spiritual freedom as he did on the night of his enlightenment. In this session, we will read an account of the Buddha’s awakening from one of India’s great epic poems, the Buddhacārita; the Buddha’s own “song of enlightenment” from the Dhammapada; and a famous second-century CE poem in praise of the Buddha’s attainments and qualities.

Read: All from CB: 

  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 5–49
  • Selections from Aśvaghoṣa, Life of the Buddha (CB)
  • Chapters 1 & 11 of the Dhammapada (CB)
  • Matṛceta, In Praise of the Buddha (CB)

Week 2 (9/20): The Early Buddhist Experience

The early monastics, both male and female, who followed the Buddha’s way expressed their devotion and realization in many ways; among the most striking are the Pāli-language “songs of experience” attributed to various disciples who lived during and just after the Buddha’s time and were handed down through the canonical tradition, especially of the Theravāda, the “Doctrine of the Elders” that predominates today in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. In this session, we will read a modern translation of these verses.


  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 51–93
  • Schelling and Waldman, Songs of the Sons and Daughters of the Buddha, 43–96

Week 3 (9/27): Celebrating Wisdom and Compassion

Although wisdom and compassion are regarded by all Buddhists as cardinal virtues, it is especially in the Great Vehicle, the Mahāyāna, that they are celebrated most expansively. In this session, we will read a famous second-century song of praise to Perfect Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā), imagined as a goddess; poetic excerpts from two important early Mahāyāna sutras; and selections from a poem dedicated to the way of the bodhisattva, the exemplary Mahāyāna practitioner who strives for enlightenment in order to liberate all sentient beings.


  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 93–134
  • Rahulabhadra, In Praise of Perfect Wisdom (CB)
  • Selections from chapter 3 of the Lotus Sūtra (CB)
  • Selections from chapter 8 of the Vimalakīrti Sūtra (CB)
  • Selections from chapters 1, 3, and 10 of Śāntideva, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (CB)

Week 4 (10/4): The Tantric Buddhist Experience

The Diamond Vehicle of Buddhism, the Vajrayāna, developed in India late in the first millennium. Based on esoteric texts called tantras, it was expounded by wonder-working adepts, the mahāsiddhas, who celebrated its esoteric metaphysics, its apparently antinomian way of life, and its profoundly liberating gnostic realizations in spontaneously sung songs that later were written down and collected. In this session, we will read songs by three great Indian adepts of the 10th–11thcenturies: Saraha, Kāṅha, and Tilopa.


  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 135–42
  • Jackson, Tantric Treasures, 3–42 (CB)
  • Songs of the Crazy Wanderers (CB)
  • Saraha’s Treasury of Songs (CB)
  • Pith Instructions on Mahāmudrā by Tilopa (CB) 

Week 5 (10/11): The Chinese Buddhist Experience

Buddhism arrived in China via the Silk Road in the early centuries CE, and although it faced headwinds from well-established Chinese ideas and mores, it eventually took root in the Middle Kingdom, especially in its Mahāyāna forms, developing such distinctive traditions as the meditation school, Chan, and the devotional movement known as Pure Land. In this session, we will read poems by the third “patriarch” of Chan, by a great mountain-hermit who called himself Han Shan (Cold Mountain), and by Chinese Buddhist nuns.


  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 165–73
  • On Trust in the Heart (CB)
  • Selection from The Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch (CB)
  • Selections from Red Pine, Cold Mountain (CB)
  • Selections from Beata Grant, Daughters of Emptiness (CB)

Week 6 (10/18): The Tibetan Buddhist Experience

Starting in the seventh century CE, Tibetans absorbed the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhism dominant in North India at the time, and over the centuries developed their own distinctive brand of the Dharma, melding beliefs and practices from India with those already in play beyond the Himalayas. In this session, we will read from three great second-millennium Tibetan poets, Milarepa, who favored the way of the ascetic yogi; Tsongkhapa, who was among Tibet’s greatest scholars, the “Great Perfection” master Ngödrup Gyeltsen, and the sixteenth-century scholar-contemplative Pema Karpo.


  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 183–192
  • Selections from Drinking the Mountain Stream  (CB)
  • Mi-la ras-pa and Padma-dkar-po, In Praise of Solitude (CB)
  • Tsongkhapa, Praise of the Buddha for Teaching Dependent Arising (CB)
  • Ngödrup Gyaltsen, The Prayer of the Original Buddha (CB)

Week 7 (10/25): The Japanese Buddhist Experience

Buddhism arrived in Japan in the mid-first millennium CE from Korea and China. Many of the Chinese schools took root in Japan but sprouted and bore fruit there in distinctively Japanese ways and employing idiosyncratically Japanese cultural forms, from swordplay and archery to tea-making, to garden construction, to the uniquely Japanese poetic form known as the haiku. In this session we will read selections from a great thirteenth–fourteenth-century polymath, Musō Soseki, and a selection of haikus the form’s greatest master, Matsuo Bashō.


  • Background: Skilton, A Concise History of Buddhism, pp. 177–82
  • Selections from Musō Soseki, Sun at Midnight (CB)
  • Bashō, On Love and Barley, 26–81

Week 8 (11/1): The Modern Buddhist Experience

Although known in the West for centuries and appreciated by European and American intellectuals from 1800 on, Buddhism only began to make real inroads in the West in the mid-twentieth century, especially though not solely through the efforts of the American Beats – who in turn sometimes influenced Asian Buddhist poets. In this session, we will read excerpts from one influential Victorian English poem but focus mostly on the works of the Beats on the one hand and those of several modern Asian Buddhist poets on the other.

Read: All from CB: 

  • Background: Robinson, Johnson, and Thanissaro, Buddhism Comes West (CB)
  • Selection from Edwin Arnold, The Light of Asia (CB)
  • Beats and Their Ilk: Selections from Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Diane di Prima(CB)
  • “Modernized” Asians: Selections from Gendun Chopel, Chögyam Trungpa, Shinkichi Takahashi, Miyazawa Kenji, Nanao Sasaki, Thich Nhat Hanh (CB)
The Paradoxes of Thomas Jefferson
Michael Zuckert
Wednesdays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 13-Nov. 1
Online via Zoom, Enrollment limit 15
Michael Zuckert head shot
Zuckert, Michael

Michael Zuckert is Nancy Dreux Professor emeritus, University of Notre Dame.  He also taught for 30 years at Carleton College before moving to Notre Dame. He is the author of many books on the American Political Tradition, including The Natural Rights Republic, a book mostly about Jefferson. His most recent book is A Nation So Conceived: Abraham Lincoln and the Paradox of Democratic Sovereignty.  zuckert.1@nd.edu

Overview:  Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, architect of Monticello, author of the theory of union that laid the groundwork for the theory of secession, author of one of the earliest American statements of “scientific racism,” one of the largest slaver-holders in Virginia.  Jefferson was the most democratic of the American Founders and also lived in aristocratic splendor in the finest home in America in its day. Our course will explore these many accomplishments of and blemishes on this most paradoxical of the founders.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Our readings will consist of primary sources produced by Jefferson. All assigned readings appear in Jefferson: Political Writings, Joyce Appleby and Terence Ball, eds., Cambridge University Press, 1999 (available via bookfinder.com in softcover new as low as $35, used as low as $11.)  

Week 1: The Paradoxical Mr. Jefferson.  Introduction, xii-xxxi; Chronology (skim) xxxii-xxxiv; To Randolph, 277-280; To Monroe, 5-8; To Church, 21-22; To Rush, 22-23; Services to my country, 26-28; To Du Pont, 31-32; To Peale, 33-34; To Rush, 34-36; Classification of Jefferson’s Library, 45; To Adams, 52-53; To Smith, 55-56.

Author of the Declaration of Independence

Week 2: Jefferson and the American Revolution.  A Summary View of the Rights, 64-80; Declaration of the Causes of Taking up arms, 80-87; To Randolph, 87-89; From the Autobiography, 90-96. .

Week 3: The Declaration of Independence and the Theory of Rights.  Drafts of the Declaration, 96-105; To Gilmer, 142-144; To DuPont, 290-294; To Lee, 147-148; To Weightman, 148-149; To Short, 133-136; Notes on Virginia, Query 6, 500-507.

Week 4: Race and Slavery.  Ch. 9, 467-498; Notes on Virginia, Query 6, 500-507.

Author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Week 5: Toleration and Religious Liberty.  Ch. 7, 390-407; To Fischback, 280-282.

Week 6: Religion and Morality.  To Law, 282-289; To Carr, 252-256; To Rush, 266-270; To Short, 313-316; To Skipwith, 233-235.

Father of the University of Virginia

Week 7: On Education in a Republic.  Bill for General Diffusion of Knowledge, 235-248; To Carr, 252-256; Notes on Virginia, Query 14, 256-260; Report for the University, 297-310; 316-317.

Week 8:  Jefferson’s Mature Theory of Republicanism.  Notes on Virginia, Query 13, 324-335; To Taylor, 206-210; To Kercheval, 210-217; To Tiffany 217-218; To Kercheval 218-219.

German Cinema Before and After Hitler
Karen Achberger
Wednesdays (screening) and Thursdays (discussions) each at 9:30-11:30, Sept. 13-Nov. 2
Village on the Cannon, Enrollment limit 20

Karen R. Achberger is Professor Emerita of German at St. Olaf College, where she taught courses in German Studies, as well as Women Studies and Media Studies, for 41 years.  krach@stolaf.edu

Overview:  In this class we will view and examine eight renowned German films as we trace one nation’s path from its first democracy to a fascist dictatorship and then to a second democracy. The films offer a timely tale of German life before and after Hitler, an intimate experience of the Weimar democracy—how it failed and how it then managed to recover from its guilt-laden past.  Understanding Germany’s path to and from the twelve fateful years of Hitler’s fascist dictatorship (1933-1945) is more relevant today than ever before. At a time when we are experiencing in our country threats to a democracy long taken for granted, it is critical to revisit the tale of a fragile German republic during the interwar years as its citizens prepared to embrace a charismatic autocrat who claimed that “I alone can fix it.”  This course is a revision of a German cinema course taught in Winter 2022. 

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  What these eight German films all have in common is that they are classic films of the highest quality, made by Germans for Germans and set in the contemporaneous German world. The characters allow us to access not only German history, but as Siegfried Kracauer suggests in his book From Caligari to Hitler, the “German psyche” of the time. They tell a tale of the German nation: The silent horror films of the early 1920s (CaligariNosferatu) show us a nation horrified and broken in the wake of the Great War, a vampire moving across Europe as it sucked the blood out of the German people. The first “talkies” of the early 1930s (The Blue AngelM) offer a glimpse of the “New Woman” and the modern metropolis as frightening monsters. The short-lived nationalist euphoria (Triumph of the Will, 1936) left the German nation and psyche in rubble (The Murderers are Among Us, 1946), faced with the task of accounting for its actions in the Second World War. What tales, beyond that of the rubble, could German films tell after 1945 to explain what had happened? With this in mind, we examine two final stories that interrogate the Nazi past, the allegorical tale of a German woman (The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979), and that of European Jews (The Counterfeitors, 2008) set in Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen. 

As we experience German history, we will also examine the distinctive way that German filmmakers use filmic devices such as camera, lighting, editing, mise-en-scène, sound, and music to influence our perception of their stories and messages as they transport us visually and acoustically into the German psyche through their film art.

To facilitate students’ access to the films, some of which are difficult to obtain for private screenings, and to maximize the screening experience itself, the class will meet in person twice a week on successive days in the Village on the Cannon Community Room—the first day for screening the film having first watched at home a short YouTube introduction by the instructor—and the second day, with the film fresh in mind, for a guided discussion of the film led by the instructor.

One week before the first class, students will receive as an email attachment the final Syllabus for the course—including links to the YouTube introductions of the films by the instructor—and a set of questions for students to think about for each of the eight films. Students are also encouraged to bring their own questions to class discussion. There are no materials that students will need to purchase, but an additional one-time fee of $10 per student will be charged to pay for the rental of the Community Room one additional day each week for our film screenings.

Week 1: Silent Horror I—The Insanity of War: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 

(Wiene, 1920, 75 min.): 

            13 Sept. Screening — 14 Sept. Discussion

Week 2: Silent Horror II—The Wounds of War: Nosferatu. A Symphony of Horrors 

(Murnau, 1922, 84 min.)  

            20 Sept. Screening — 21 Sept. Discussion

Week 3: Early “Talkies” I—The “New Woman” as Monster: The Blue Angel

(Sternberg, 1930, 99 min.) 

            27 Sept. Screening — 28 Sept. Discussion

Week 4: Early “Talkies” II—The City as Battlefield:  M 

(Lang, 1931, 117 min.)

            4 Oct. Screening — 5 Oct. Discussion

Week 5: Filming the “Third Reich”—A Paean to the Führer:  Triumph of the Will

(Riefenstahl, 1935, 114 min.)

            11 Oct. Screening — 12 Oct. Discussion

Week 6: Filming Its Rubble—The Insanity of War Revisited: The Murderers are Among Us (Staudte, 1946, 91 min.)

            18 Oct. Screening — 19 Oct. Discussion

Week 7: Interrogating the Nazi Past—Germany in Peril: The Marriage of Maria Braun (Fassbinder, 1978, 115 min.)

            25 Oct. Screening — 26 Oct. Discussion

Week 8: Jews as Perpetrators? —Surviving the Holocaust: The Counterfeiters 

(Ruzowitzky, Oscar 2008, 98 min.)

            1 Nov. Screening — 2 Nov. Discussion

Mathematics and Literature – Books of Lewis Carroll
Tom Drucker
Fridays 9:30-11:30, Sept. 15-Nov. 3
Kildahl Park Pointe, Enrollment limit 20

Tom Drucker retired in 2021 after decades of teaching mathematics, computer science, philosophy and the history of science, most recently at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater.  He has lectured and written on Lewis Carroll’s work for many years and reviewed two volumes of Dodgson’s collected papers.  He has also played the role of the Mad Hatter in a dramatization of Carroll’s life at a national mathematical meeting.  druckert@uww.edu

Overview:  Charles L. Dodgson was a Victorian mathematician who made contributions to mathematics in a variety of areas and was also a pioneer of photography.  He is, however, best known as the author of the Alice books under the nom de plume of ‘Lewis Carroll’.  This course is intended to tie together the mathematician and the writer of children’s books.  We will look carefully at the texts, but also examine aspects of his work that involve mathematics, selecting examples that do not involve much prior mathematical learning.  For example, his work on logic, while not the basis for much subsequent research, includes plenty of entertainment for those interested in whether guinea pigs truly appreciate Beethoven.  His work on elections has played a role in subsequent discussions of democracy.  

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Students will need to acquire the two Alice books—Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There—preferably with the annotations by Martin Gardner.  They come packaged together in Lewis Carroll, The Annotated Alice (available on bookfinder.com at $7 new or $3 used).  Gardner also annotated The Hunting of the Snark, which students should also acquire, but any edition of that will be fine (available on bookfinder.com at $10 new and $6 used).  

As a reference about Dodgson’s life, we’ll use Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s The Story of Alice, which came out in 2015 (bookfinder.com $15 new and $6 used).  All other readings will be provided by the instructor as links or pdf email attachments.

Class 1: We’ll look at the educational background Dodgson had and try to understand the English university scene of the mid-nineteenth century.   We’ll also consider his strengths as a lecturer compared to his writings.

Class 2: There’s no point in denying ourselves the pleasure of reacquainting ourselves with some of the well-known chapters of the Alice books.   We’ll look at ‘A Mad Tea-Party’ from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and ‘It’s My Own Invention’ from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.  

Class 3: Those who are not already familiar with The Hunting of the Snark will be able to appreciate everything Dodgson brings to this collection of Victorian characters.

Class 4: Dodgson was not a systematic philosopher, but his reflections on philosophical topics continue to offer interest.    We’ll look at the chapter ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There with the help of Peter Heath’s The Philosopher’s Alice and read the perennially important ‘What the Tortoise Said to Achilles’.

Class 5: Dodgson was a puzzle-maker extraordinaire, and puzzles of various sorts are scattered throughout his works.   We’ll pit ourselves against some of the more interesting and shall not try to solve why a raven is like a writing-desk.

Class 6: Dodgson was serious about his photography, and many of his photographs capture distinguished members of the literary world.   We’ll discuss his role in the development of photography as an art and science.

Class 7: Much of Dodgson’s work had a pedagogical bent.   We’ll consider his views of ‘modern’ mathematics as represented in Euclid and His Modern Rivals and of logic beyond the famous description in ‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee’ (‘Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t.  That’s logic.’

Class 8: We’ll wrap up our consideration of Dodgson with a brief look at his writings on elections and then try to figure out what it is that causes his work from over 150 years ago still to be living on for adults and children.   

The Art of the Theater (and how we respond)
Philip Spensley
Fridays 1:30-3:30, Sept. 15-Nov. 3
Kildahl Park Pointe, Enrollment limit 20
Philip Spensley head shot (2017?)

Philip Spensley, Professor Emeritus of theatre from Concordia University in Montreal, was a member of Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare and Shaw Festival companies, has acted, written, directed and designed professionally for stage, acted for film and television (US, Canada and Europe), taught for university and professional theatre programs in Canada and the US, and has lectured, and given workshops around the world on theatre practice and pedagogy.  He served as the first Chair of the Northfield Arts and Culture Commission from its inception in 2007 to 2016 and has taught previously for the CVEC.  pspensley@earthlink.net

Overview:  The theatre is a group experience.  The audience reacts to cues that have been carefully planned.  To help deepen an audience member’s experience and appreciation, this course will explore the means that theatre artists use to bring a play to life, to create its world, to communicate meaning, and to spark the collective emotional reactions we have when we experience a play.  In evaluating conceptual choices made by the playwright, director, designers, and actors (both aesthetic and practical), we will take into account the influence of historical period and style, theatre architecture, actor-audience relationship, social expectations and psychological triggers. 

Course Materials and Class Schedule:  Class time will include lecture, discussion, demonstration (with class member participation), identifying “clues” in scripts, and evaluating visual examples provided by the instructor.  All course materials will be provided by the instructor, either by email (beforehand or after as review) or as handouts in class.

Week 1: What is the nature of the theatre—its impetus, its obligations? What is a play? Dramatic genres and their respective intellectual and emotional demands and effects.  Presentational styles and how they color our response.

Week 2: Physical and psychological elements of theatrical communication. Theatre “language” –what “speaks” to us and how.  Theatrical conventions and how they steer our expectations. 

Week 3: The nature of perception—if theatre is illusion, what makes it real? Techniques that trigger emotion, intellect, and psyche.  Composition, picturization, mood. 

Week 4: Tools and techniques put “into use” through artistic choices. The playwright and what’s in a script.

Week 5: Tools and techniques put “into use” through artistic choices: the director and what’s behind the directorial concept; the ground plan and what it provides.

Week 6: Tools and techniques put “into use” through artistic choices: the designers—what messages the set sends; what the lighting does; what the costumes tell us; how sound affects us.

Week 7:  Tools and techniques put “into use” through artistic choices: the actor as the primary tool; the individual and integrated interplay “in action” of all the above 

Week 8: Tools of critical evaluation. Course review and wrap-up.