Schemel Forum Offers Range of Stimulating Courses (2024)

The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum returns this fall with its usual assortment of enriching educational programming, including its evening courses.

Taught by University faculty members, the courses will be presented in six weekly sessions from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. in the Weinberg Memorial Library.

Weinberg Memorial Library Dean George Aulisio is the Schemel Forum’s new director, taking over for Sondra Myers, who stepped down in the spring after leading the program since its inception.

“The foundation she laid remains strong, and opportunities abound to ‘bring the world to Scranton,’” Dean Aulisio said. “I will be filling Sondra’s large shoes and will try my best to keep the program exciting and insightful.”

The three University faculty members teaching the courses will offer content “that ranges from timely to timeless,” Dean Aulisio said.

'Indiana Jones and the Twentieth Century'

Sean Brennan, Ph.D., professor in the Department of History, will present “Indiana Jones and the Twentieth Century” on Tuesday evenings Sept. 12, 19 and 26 and Oct. 3, 10 and 24.

One of cinema’s most iconic characters and the creation of legendary filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr., as portrayed by actor Harrison Ford, is a globe-trotting archaeologist and university professor who throughout the 20th century searched for valuable artifacts with mystical powers and battled, among others, the Thuggee Cult in India, Soviet special forces and, most memorably, Nazis, in comic books, video games, television shows and five films from 1981 to the present.

During the course, Dr. Brennan will examine how the character was created and his cultural impact, before moving on to examine not just the historical environments depicted in the films (the years 1935, 1936, 1938, 1957, and 1969), but also the historical origins of the famous relics featured in them, from the Ark of the Covenant to the Antikythera.

Dr. Brennan has taught several Schemel Forum courses, with his most recent one on the influence of James Bond and the Cold War’s depiction in the Bond books and films.

“Indiana Jones appeared to be a logical progression, as Indy is Bond’s son, in many respects,” Dr. Brennan said. “‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is my favorite film ever since I saw it living on Fort Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York, when I was seven years old back in 1986. My love of history, particularly of the 20th century, and my desire to become a historian, was at least partially inspired by my love of the Indiana Jones films I loved as a kid. I hope course participants gain a clear insight on how people have learned about ancient and modern history, for good and bad, through pop culture icons.”

'The Crisis of the Sciences: Positivism, Essentialism, and the Need for Critical Theory?'

Andrew LaZella, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Philosophy, will present “The Crisis of the Sciences: Positivism, Essentialism, and the Need for Critical Theory?” Wednesday evenings Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25 and Nov. 1 and 8.

LaZella will use the course to investigate western science’s alliance with the twin pillars of positivism and essentialism, an alliance that renders both natural and social science structurally incapable of responding to real social and ecological problems like starvation, structural racism and global warming. With the advent of new forms of artificial intelligence (especially machine learning), this incapacity will only make matters worse, forcing science to dissociate itself from positivism and essentialism through a critical turn to critical theory.

'Writing in Place'

Hank Willenbrink, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of English and Theatre, will present “Writing in Place” Monday evenings Oct. 23 and 30 and Nov. 6, 13, 20 and 27.

In the creative writing course, Dr. Willenbrink will explore how location has been a font of inspiration and investigation for countless writers, from Illiers-Combray for Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” to Tinker Creek for Annie Dillard.

During each session, participants will use their own places from personal experience and memory, as well as a selection of writings, to write about where they are, where they have been, and where they are going, according to Dr. Willenbrink.

“The course is an outgrowth of some of the teaching and writing I’ve been exploring since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” Dr. Willenbrink said. “I started to really ask myself in teaching writing what were some of the goals that I wanted to get out of it. And one of those goals was to engage more deeply with myself, with my community, and with where I live. I hope that through this course participants are able to explore parts of themselves and the common home that we share in ways that they haven’t before. I also hope that this gives them the ability to experience writing in new, provocative ways.”

The courses are free for University students, faculty, staff and Schemel Forum members. For non-members, the fee is $100 per individual and $150 per couple.

To register for the courses, or for more information on the Schemel Forum, contact Brooke Leonard at 570-941-4740 or Or, to pay online, visit:

Dean Aulisio talked about the fall Schemel Forum schedule of events with WVIA’s Erika Funke on ArtScene.

Additional Schemel Forum events can be found on the Schemel Forum’s webpage.

Schemel Forum Offers Range of Stimulating Courses (2024)
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