Drew Minicourses Winter/Spring 2018 Class Descriptions

Click here for full Winter-Spring 2018 Brochure

The Great War and Modern Memory
Dr. William Rogers
Five Mondays: Jan 29, February 5, 12, 19, 26   1:30-3:30 pm

The Great War is now considered to be the first phase of a 30-year conflict. Some scholars even argue that World War I ended with the fall of the Soviet Empire or is still being felt today in the Middle East. This may be an extreme interpretation, but it takes no hyperbole to say that the Great War changed Western culture and its subsequent history forevermore.  In this conflict where at least 15 million died, nothing escaped unscathed; not beliefs, values, literature, politics, or families. As the last few World War I veterans have passed from the stage, the impact of their actions remains strong with us today.  It is hard to imagine Eliot, Hemingway, or Fitzgerald; the “Roaring Twenties” or the Great Depression; and Fascism and Communism without the war. According to Paul Fussell, the dominant characteristic of the Great War was satire and irony–the absurdity of almost every aspect of daily life in the trenches.  In this course we will attempt to explore these issues through readings about the war itself and in the memoirs and poetry of some of its most literary participants.

William Rogers, recently retired Associate Dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, has taught American history and Irish/Irish-American history and literature at Caspersen and helps lead study trips to Ireland. His field of study includes the impact of war on American culture and society.

Natural Beauty and the Appreciation of Natural Environments
Dr. Erik Anderson
Five Tues: Jan 30, February 6, 13, 20, 27 10-12 Noon

Immanuel Kant famously claimed that anyone who takes an immediate interest in natural beauty can do so only in virtue of possessing at least the germ of a morally good disposition; that someone who is in essence a morally good person cannot reflect on natural beauty without this reflection generating an immediate interest in natural beauty; and that it is right to demand that each person takes such an interest.      In this course we inquire into the character and importance of natural beauty and our appreciation of natural environments.  The primary points of focus will include the importance of a distinction between the aesthetic appreciation of nature and the aesthetic appreciation of art; the roles played by scientific knowledge, emotional engagement, cultural norms, and creative imagination in the aesthetic appreciation of nature; the thesis that all of wild nature has positive value; and the theoretical role aesthetic considerations play in the rationale behind environmental conservation. As an illustrative case-study we will go on to investigate the aesthetics of silence.

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Erik Anderson is Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Drew University.

Exploring Beethoven
Dr. Robert Butts

Five Tues: January 30, February 6, 13, 20, 27 1:30-3:30 pm

Ludwig van Beethoven paved the way for modern music as we know it.  Building on the classical traditions of Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven added an emotional passion that also defined the new style called Romanticism.   Beethoven’s symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and string quartets are at the center of every concert artist’s repertoire.   His opera Fidelio remains a standard work in every opera house.  Even beyond his music, however, Beethoven represents the deepest commitment to creativity and art, to rising above personal anguish and illness, to expressing the deepest of human feelings within the world of music.  At the same time, Beethoven represents the culmination of the ideals of the Enlightenment and the changes in society that occurred during the Napoleonic era.   His greatest and most deep-felt works were created in the first decade of the 19th century, a time when his home in Vienna was under siege and battle.   The world will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020.  Between now and then, conductors, orchestras, pianist, soloists, and singers will explore Beethoven’s music and its incredible relevance to the world today.

SUGGESTED LISTENING FOR CLASS: Beethoven Symphonies 3, 5, 6, 9, Piano Concertos 1-3-5

Robert W. Butts is a widely noted conductor, composer and teacher and a frequent presenter in the Drew Minicourse program.

Great Leaders and Political Ideas from Ancient Greece and Rome
Dr. John Lenz
Five Wed: January 31, February 7, 14, 21, 28 10 AM-12 Noon

This course presents the best examples of politicians and political ideas from Classical Greece and Rome.  This history provided a model of types of government for the founders of the U.S., and still does today.  What makes a good leader?  How does one type of system change into another? Can democracy lead to a tyranny or empire?  The Greeks gave us “politics,” political theories, and democracy; then came Alexander the Great.  The Romans had both a republic and an empire.  Can we learn relevant lessons?  Students read ancient short biographies by Plutarch and Suetonius, and we add history and analysis.  Topics include:  Athenian Democracy:  Pericles and Alcibiades; Plato’s ideal Republic, cycles of history, and Aristotle’s Politics; Alexander the Great; Roman Republic:  founders, Cicero and Caesar; Roman Emperors:  Augustus, Claudius, Nero, Marcus Aurelius and Constantine.

John Lenz is an Associate Professor of Classics at Drew.

Music from the Films of Alfred Hitchcock
Dr. Robert Butts
Five Tues: April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1   1:30-3:30 pm

Perhaps the most successful music and film collaborations were with director Alfred Hitchcock.  While his films with composer Bernard Hermann are most famous, Hitchcock also worked well with composers Miklos Rozsa, Frank Skinner, Dimitri Tiomkin, Roy Webb, and Franz Waxman.   In these films, the music was more than just soundtrack.   The score created mood and ambiance and greatly added to each film’s style and impact.   Working together, even sounds like footsteps, engines, and water became part of the score while operatic leitmotifs provided aural unity.   Classic films and film scores include Spellbound, Saboteur, Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Suspicion, Rear Window, Notorious, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, and The Birds.

Using Poetry as Access to the Universal
Dr. Sean Nevin
Five Wed: April 4, 11, 18, 25; May 2   1:30-3:30 pm

The poet and critic Charles Simic said, “Poems are other people’s snapshots in which we recognize ourselves.” This minicourse will explore how art, specifically poetry, can examine the individual experience and how highly-personal experiences can illuminate universal ones.

Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” We will study how poets identify and mythologize both internal and external landscapes to create a space for shared empathy. In our discussion of mostly contemporary Irish and American poets, we will explore our humanity with a focus on the relationship between place and the self. Through guided prompts we will generate some original writing designed to foster self-reflection and discovery both as writer and reader. Sean Nevin directs the MFA Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation at Drew where he is an Associate Professor. He was named an honoree in The Irish Education 100 in 2016.