FALL 2021 SEMINARS

Registration for our Fall Seminar Series is now open! In addition to virtual, online seminars, we are excited to begin holding LIVE in-person seminars again in our NEW space starting this Fall. Space will be limited, be sure to reserve your spot early.

LITERATURE & FILM

Encountering Paris in Literature & Film

In this seminar we will explore the inimitable city of Paris in French literature and cinema over the last two centuries. While most of these works represent Paris as a preeminently modern city both in its landscape and in the mentalities of its inhabitants, others incite a yearning nostalgia for a Paris of the Belle Époque, before the horrors and the two world wars and the brutal modernization of city in the 1960s and ‘70s. We will take a look at the transformation of Paris and its society from the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy (1815-30) forward and situate these works in both the physical spaces and social climates of their time.

MUSIC

Musical Dynasties: Lives & Music
of America’s Greatest Pop Families

Does talent run in families? Meet three multi-talented musical families who have become dynasties. Their members are some of the most iconic voices in the history of American music. We’ll explore the story behind each family, and focus on the lives & work of three of their most distinguished members. From country-western legends, the Carter-Cash family, to the royalty of soul & pop, the Jacksons, to the eclectic folk, rock & opera artistry of the McGarrigle-Wainwright-Roche-Cohen family, we’ll journey through the business, fortunes, craft, and creativity of three highly successful, multi-genre musical clans.

IN-PERSON

MUSIC

Musical Dynasties: Lives & Music
of America’s Greatest Pop Families

Does talent run in families? Meet three multi-talented musical families who have become dynasties. Their members are some of the most iconic voices in the history of American music. We’ll explore the story behind each family, and focus on the lives & work of three of their most distinguished members. From country-western legends, the Carter-Cash family, to the royalty of soul & pop, the Jacksons, to the eclectic folk, rock & opera artistry of the McGarrigle-Wainwright-Roche-Cohen family, we’ll journey through the business, fortunes, craft, and creativity of three highly successful, multi-genre musical clans.

IN-PERSON

VISUAL ART

The Medium is the Message:
The Languages of Contemporary Art

This seminar explores the fascinating world of contemporary art through the lens of artistic media & mediums. The history of modern art is marked by a tension between the pursuit of pure form and the radical expansion beyond recognizable aesthetic categories. We will trace the contours of this history in the 21st century. By learning the languages of contemporary art, we will discover the ways that a diverse range of contemporary artists from around the globe seek continuity with the traditions of the past and challenge these traditions in order to create bold new formal languages, expressive possibilities, and forms of experience.

IN-PERSON

CULTURE  /  PHILOSOPHY  /  RELIGION

Life Lessons from Ancient Myths

Our culture’s first narratives were myths, which is to say stories of divine action. They spread through ancient culture, fulfilling a variety of functions. Some of these stories played ritualistic roles; some tried to explain natural phenomena; some told moral lessons. Then the early literary forms of our culture (especially epic poetry and tragic drama) retold some of the stories for yet other purposes. From that early time, myths have proved themselves open to re-use and re-interpretation. And the re-use continues today, for myths as they come down to us in the present are accessible to ever-more interpretations and functions.

IN-PERSON

CULTURE  /  PHILOSOPHY  /  RELIGION

Life Lessons from Ancient Myths

Our culture’s first narratives were myths, which is to say stories of divine action. They spread through ancient culture, fulfilling a variety of functions. Some of these stories played ritualistic roles; some tried to explain natural phenomena; some told moral lessons. Then the early literary forms of our culture (especially epic poetry and tragic drama) retold some of the stories for yet other purposes. From that early time, myths have proved themselves open to re-use and re-interpretation. And the re-use continues today, for myths as they come down to us in the present are accessible to ever-more interpretations and functions.

IN-PERSON

HISTORY & POLITICS

You Can’t Take It With You: The Life & Afterlife of Six Great American Fortunes

Last summer, Jeff Bezos became the first American ever worth $200 billion, just one of the many enormous fortunes marking America’s second gilded age.  In these sessions we will explore the stories of six of the greatest fortunes of the first gilded age to examine why and how such great fortunes get created, as well as what happens to them after their creators are gone. 

HISTORY & POLITICS

First Ladies, Gender & American Politics

We live in an era with a female Vice President and Speaker of the House; where women chair four Senate committees. But for much of the last century, the Office of the First Lady housed the highest-profile women in American politics. Though the position doesn’t exist in the Constitution, the term has been widely used since the late 19th century. This seminar will explore the growth of the office by examining the lives of the most significant First Ladies, while also examining how the office has changed over time. While focusing on the Office of the First Lady, each session also will include commentary on the growing political power of women in the period under discussion.

IN-PERSON

HISTORY & POLITICS

First Ladies, Gender & American Politics

We live in an era with a female Vice President and Speaker of the House; where women chair four Senate committees. But for much of the last century, the Office of the First Lady housed the highest-profile women in American politics. Though the position doesn’t exist in the Constitution, the term has been widely used since the late 19th century. This seminar will explore the growth of the office by examining the lives of the most significant First Ladies, while also examining how the office has changed over time. While focusing on the Office of the First Lady, each session also will include commentary on the growing political power of women in the period under discussion.

FILM  /  HISTORY & POLITICS

Five Came Back: Classic American Cinema After World War II

The book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood & the Second World War  by Mark Harris, describes how the experiences in World War II of five directors would prove to be incredibly influential for the history of American film & Hollywood. This course will explore the major films of these “five” — the legends Frank Capra, George Stevens, John Ford, John Houston & William Wyler — and discuss how their masterpieces would help redefine the American film industry. We will also consider the Netflix documentary on these acclaimed directors, and see how they influenced such later cinematic geniuses as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, among others.

HISTORY & POLITICS  /  PHILOSOPHY

The History of Family Money

In 1982, 60 of the 100 richest Americans inherited most of their wealth, but by 2020 this was true for only 27 of the richest 100.  Why did the importance of inheritance in determining wealth drop so much over those 40 years, and will it continue or will it reverse?  This class will examine the “deep” history of family wealth by focusing on three basic questions for each era — how was wealth created?  Who created it? How did it get transmitted across time?

IN-PERSON

HISTORY & POLITICS  /  PHILOSOPHY

The History of Family Money

In 1982, 60 of the 100 richest Americans inherited most of their wealth, but by 2020 this was true for only 27 of the richest 100.  Why did the importance of inheritance in determining wealth drop so much over those 40 years, and will it continue or will it reverse?  This class will examine the “deep” history of family wealth by focusing on three basic questions for each era — how was wealth created?  Who created it? How did it get transmitted across time?

IN-PERSON

LITERATURE

Memoirs With A Mystery

What are some recent memoirs that tell a poignant life story, but also remind us of the “mystery” of some of the most complicated & consequential questions we face? How have writers from varying points of view described those common human elements — love, death, a sense of calling, devotion to a cause — that for so many of us represent a defining part of existence? In this course, Professor Joseph Luzzi, himself a memoirist, will explore a range of “life narratives” that remind us why first-person insights of the autobiographical genre have long been a staple of the literary tradition and have attracted devoted readers across centuries and throughout the globe.

HISTORY & POLITICS

The Roaring Twenties

Europe & the United States are recovering from the effects of a global pandemic. The United States is moving past a tumultuous presidency. Significant cultural and demographic changes are challenging the old order. New economic trends are creating a more inter-connected, international world. More egalitarian attitudes around race & ethnicity are coexisting with emerging poisonous political movements. This all could describe the 2020s — but so too does it describe the 1920s: the focus of this seminar. Centering on both domestic & international affairs, we will look back a century to gain a better understanding of the promise & challenges of our era.

ONLINE &
IN-PERSON

HISTORY & POLITICS

The Roaring Twenties

Europe & the United States are recovering from the effects of a global pandemic. The United States is moving past a tumultuous presidency. Significant cultural and demographic changes are challenging the old order. New economic trends are creating a more inter-connected, international world. More egalitarian attitudes around race & ethnicity are coexisting with emerging poisonous political movements. This all could describe the 2020s — but so too does it describe the 1920s: the focus of this seminar. Centering on both domestic & international affairs, we will look back a century to gain a better understanding of the promise & challenges of our era.

ONLINE &
IN-PERSON