Current Minicourses

Minicourses: Summer 2019
Chase Room, Madison Public Library

Sponsored by the Friends of the Madison Public Library

Registration will begin on Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Please do not mail your registration early.
Only mail received after the registration date will be processed.

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Utopias in History and Literature
Dr. John Lenz
10 am–12 pm,
Wednesdays, June 26, July 3, 10, 17 and 24

Utopia means an ideal alternative society.  Utopias hold up satiric mirrors to the present and visions of the possible: can people change the world?  We consider a variety from literature and history, theory and practice, from both Europe and the U.S.  Topics range from the ancient world (Plato’s Republic), Thomas More’s Utopia, the French Revolution, 19th-century utopian communities and theories (some bizarre ones), novels (e.g. William Morris), to 20th-century dystopias (We [the basis for 1984], Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale).

“The idea of a perfect society is a very old dream, whether because of the ills of the present, which lead (people) to … imagine some ideal state … because these Utopias are fictions deliberately constructed as satires, intended to criticize the actual world and to shame those who control existing regimes, or those who suffer them too tamely; or perhaps they are social fantasies — simple exercises of the poetical imagination.”  Isaiah Berlin

John Lenz (Ph.D. Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Classics at Drew. He teaches ancient Greek history, literature, language, philosophy, archaeology, myth, and religion. His interest in the history of ideas led him to utopianism, or the study of how ideas may or may not change history, and the legacy of Classical thought in succeeding centuries, the “Classical tradition.” He served as a Fulbright Scholar in Greece and is currently Chairman of the Bertrand Russell Society. His published articles include “Bertrand Russell and the Greeks,” “Deification of the Philosopher in Ancient Greece,” and contributions to The Dictionary of Art (now Grove Art Online).

Musicals on Film: Part II
Dr. Robert Butts
1:30 – 3:30 pm,
Wednesdays, June 26; July 3, 10, 17 and 24

Continuing the study from last summer, Dr. Butts will look at musicals on film as a genre onto itself.  How do film versions differ from the original stage versions?  How is the story told from a cinematic perspective?  Who were the artists that brought these memorable films to the screen?

Films discussed will include:
Class 1 – Guys and DollsSinging in the Rain
Class 2 – Damn YankeesThe Music Man
Class 3 – My Fair LadySound of Music
Class 4 – A Chorus LineLittle Shop of Horrors
Class 5 – Phantom of the OperaLes Miserables

Dr. Robert Butts has won acclaim as conductor, composer and educator. He is the director of the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey. He teaches/lectures at Montclair State University, the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University, New Jersey Council for the Humanities and the College of Saint Elizabeth.

Short, but not Small: Notable American Short Fiction from Jack London to Lucia Berlin
Laura Driver
10 am–12 pm, Tuesdays, July 30, Aug 6, 13, 20 and 27
*Note: Reading List is posted under Course Materials

Contemporary American writer Lorrie Moore expressed, “A short story is a love affair; a novel, a marriage.” Fellow writer David Sedaris explained that “A good short story would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” The short story is a form beloved by many and minimized by more. In this minicourse, we will engage with the short fiction of the most eminent masters of American short fiction from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. We will use the perspectives of the authors themselves, as well as those of other writers, to consider the worth and legacy of the short story and its place within the American literary canon. Our readings will include works from Jack London, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, John Cheever, Garrison Keillor, Jamaica Kincaid, John Updike and Lucia Berlin, among others.

Laura Driver is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at County College of Morris. She received her MA from Columbia University and her BA from Duke University. She is contributing editor to the Journal of New Jersey Poets.

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