Fall 2018 GU Learning Community Courses

GU Learning Community, Course Descriptions, Fall 2018

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Anthony J. Tambasco

Professor Emeritus, Department of Theology
Specializing in Biblical Studies

Mercy/Compassion as the Essence of Christian Life

Pope John XXIII described the Second Vatican Council in 1962 as administering the “medicine of mercy.” Pope Francis has picked up this theme in our own day and put mercy at the core of Christian life. This course will explore the concept of mercy from its biblical roots to its applications in the “works of mercy” and will relate mercy to key elements of Christianity. 

Thursday, Oct. 11, 18, 25: 10:30 – 12:00
McShain Lounge, small (McCarthy Hall)

G. Ronald Murphy, S. J.

George M. Roth Distinguished Professor of German, Emeritus

George is interested in the intersection of religion and literature throughout the history of German literature, more recently in the role of Germanic mythology in the interpretation of medieval literature and culture in the Germanic world.

The Grimms’ Magic Tales

The course covers the famous tales known by all from Red Riding Hood to Snow White and interprets them in the light of what can be found of the motives, the images and descriptions given by the Grimms’ themselves. The text book for the course is my The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove, Oxford UP.

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 23, 30: 10:30 – 12:00
McShain Lounge, small (McCarthy Hall) 

Serafina Hager

Associate Professor Emerita, Department of Italian
Former Curricular Dean, Faculty of Language & Linguistics

The Metaphor of Food in Italian Literature and in Futurism, the Avant-garde Art Movement

Food and gastronomy are intrinsically tied with Italian culture, transmit traditions deeply rooted in the history of local areas, and meanings related to the human experience. In the works of several prominent Italian writers the reference to food transcends the flavors of gastronomy and is used as a powerful metaphor to transmit social, cultural, ethical, and political issues. In this mini-course we will explore the power of the food metaphor in literary works from Dante’s Inferno, Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Collodi’s Pinocchio, Lampedusa’s The Leopard, Moravia’s The Two Women, and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. In these works food or the deprivation of food in time of hardships sends strong and moving messages. We will also discuss the metaphor and interpretation of food in Marinetti’s revolutionary and avant-garde art movement, Futurism, as defined in the Futurists’ Cuisine Manifesto, published in 1930. In the Manifesto the futurists state that “intelligence and fantasy must substitute quantity and banality”. They repudiate tradition and introduce a new and provocative cuisine to rouse new emotions.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 and 30: 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Murray Room, 5th floor, Lauinger Library
Please note: this class has two meetings.

Philip Sze

Associate Professor, Emeritus, Department of Biology 

Exploring Topics in Marine Ecology 

Eutrophication (nutrient pollution) and climate change are major threats to life in the oceans. We will consider how these threats are impacting the Chesapeake Bay and coral reefs. Our discussion of the Bay will include its environmental quality, the importance of seagrasses and oysters, progress on reducing nutrient inputs, and threats from climate change. In the second part of the course, we will discuss how eutrophication, overfishing and climate change have damaged many coral reefs.   

Wednesday, Oct. 31, Nov. 7, 14: 10:30 – 12:00
Murray Room, 5th floor, Lauinger Library

R. Bruce Douglass

Associate Professor, Department of Government; former Chair; Dean of the Faculty of Georgetown College 

Political theorist, specializing in 19th and 20th Western political thought (especially liberalism, religion and political thought, and classical social theory); most recent publication: The Iron Cage Revisited (Routledge 2018) 

The Iron Cage Revisited – Max Weber in the Neoliberal Era 

In his best known work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the famous economic historian (and later sociologist) Max Weber characterized modern life as an “iron cage.” During the industrial era that image caught on and was often used by scholars to express concerns about the extent to which the actual character of modern life contradicted its emancipatory promise. But we are living in a different time now, when the conditions under which we live seem to be quite different from the ones that pertained in Weber’s day. It is a time when, in some respects at least, life seems to be freer and more conducive to experimentation, which has led some scholars to conclude that our societies have escaped from Weber’s cage. But is that really true? The purpose of this course is to consider that question in the light of what has been happening in the technologically advanced societies in the world since the political ascendency of neoliberal forces in the 1980’s. 

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 13, 20: 2:00– 3:30 p.m.
McShain Lounge, small (McCarthy Hall)

Imam Yahya Hendi

Director, Muslim Life and Chaplaincy 

Encountering Islam Beliefs and Muslim Practices 

This course focuses on the multifaceted character of this global religion and its widely diverse adherents. It includes insights into the history of Islam and the varied experiences of Muslims today. Its three sessions will present the essential foundations of the Islamic faith and its practices, with special emphasis on frequently asked questions, such as the interpretation of the Qur’an and the nature of Shari’ah, the role of women in the faith, and the concept of Jihad.

Participants will obtain basic knowledge of the religion of Islam; gain knowledge of the Muslim culture; learn about the sources of Islamic theology, history, and ethics; understand the Qur’an, the Muslim holy scripture; become acquainted with Islamic rituals and creed; discuss issues of concern; and explore the relationship between Islam and both Judaism and Christianity.

Course participants might wish to consult:

The Vision of Islam, by Sachiko Murata and William Chittick, Paragon House, 1994;

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam, by Yahiya Emerick, Alpha Publications, 2002;

The Heart of Islam, by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. New York: HarperCollins, 2002;

Taking Back Islam, edited by Michael Wolfe, Rodale Inc., 2002;

The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization, by Richard W. Bulliet, Columbia Univ. Press, 2004. 

Monday, Nov. 5, 12, 19: 10:30 – 12:00
McShain Lounge, small (McCarthy Hall)

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