The Jewish Holocaust: A Brief Overview

Prof. LeRoy Walters

Tuesdays, October 3, 10, and 17 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Germany concluded its participation in World War I in 1918. Shortly before Germany’s surrender, a young corporal in the German army, Adolf Hitler was temporarily blinded by a British mustard-gas attack in a battle near Ypres, Belgium.

This course will trace the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany, beginning with the platform of a predecessor party in 1920. We will explore the National Socialist Party’s rise to prominence and Hitler’s role in popularizing the party’s anti-Jewish propaganda. Hitler’s appointment as German chancellor in January 1933 proved to be a fateful moment in modern German, European, and world history. We will then trace the accelerating discrimination against German Jews between 1933 and 1938, the pogrom against German, Austrian, and Czech Jews in November 1938, and German military expansion in Europe through early 1941. In June of 1941, the German Wehrmacht and its allied armies launched a massive attack on the Soviet Union.

The Titanic war in the east between Axis forces and the Red Army coincided with, and partially obscured, Germany’s genocidal campaign against the Jews of Europe. By May of 1945, approximately six million European Jews had been murdered.

Prof. LeRoy Walters studied for two years in Germany, one year at the University of Heidelberg, and one year at the Free University of Berlin. While in Berlin, he also helped to organize East-West conferences in East Berlin, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. In 1967 He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in Christian ethics in the spring of 1971. His dissertation received the Theron Rockwell Field Prize from the university. In 1971 he joined Georgetown’s newly established Kennedy Institute of Ethics. He remained a member of the Kennedy Institute from 1971 until his retirement in 2010. Beginning in 1975, he also held a joint appointment in the Philosophy Department. In 1993 he was named the Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute. Much of Prof. Walters’s early research focused on ethical issues in human genetics and reproductive technologies. Since 2003, he has devoted major attention to Holocaust Studies and the so-called “euthanasia” program initiated in 1939 by the National Socialist regime.

Biden’s Presidency

Prof. Stephen Wayne

Mondays, October 9, 16, and 23 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The course on the Biden presidency will begin with an examination of the 2020 election, its contestation by Donald Trump, the delayed transition of the president-elect, and the first 100 days of the new administration. The second-class presentation will examine the rest of the first two years: the political environment, policy successes and failures, and the public’s evaluation of Biden. The final presentation and discussion will focus on 2023 and beyond; the policy issues, divided government, and the 2024 presidential election.

An expert on the American Presidency, he has written twelve books, several in multiple editions, and over 100 articles, chapters, and book reviews. His major works include The Road to the White House, now in its ninth edition, Personality, and Politics: Obama For and Against Himself, The Legislative Presidency, Presidential Leadership (with George C. Edwards), 8th ed., two co-authored introductory texts on American Government, The Politics of American Government, 3rd ed. and the most recent, Conflict and Consensus in American Politics published in 2006. In addition, Professor Wayne has authored or edited the following works: Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election? 4th. ed. The Election of the Century (with Clyde Wilcox), and Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Government? ed. with contributions from graduate students, faculty, and alumni of the Government Department of Georgetown University. Professor Wayne has served as President of the Presidency Research Group and The National Capital Area Political Science Association. He regularly lectures international visitors, senior federal executives, and college students in the United States and abroad on the presidency and electoral politics. He has testified before Congress, advised both the Republican and Democratic National Committees on the presidential nomination process and worked as a consultant on various film documentaries on the American Presidency.

Cryptography: From Caesar to Ultra, from Bitcoin to WhatsApp – And how Mathematics Plays a Crucial Role

Prof. Hans Engler

Thursday, October 12, 19, and 26 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Cryptography, the ancient art and science of making, using, and breaking secret codes, has played an important role in human history, practically since writing was invented. In the last decades, it has entered daily life for everybody in the form of secure Internet commerce and communications, and cryptocurrency booms, busts, and scandals have grabbed headlines.

So, what makes a cryptographic system easy or hard to break? Why was the simple cryptosystem used by the Confederates during the American Civil War not broken by the Union, but Allied cryptanalysts read Axis cryptosystems in World War II? Why can you today safely transmit your credit card information over an open Wi-Fi system to an online shop, and how will quantum computers change this?

In this course, I will first discuss the “ancient” history of cryptography. The main users of such tools were diplomats and the military, and encryption was done by hand or with mechanical tools. This period ended around 1970. The ever more sophisticated race between makers and breakers of cipher systems will be discussed, which culminated in the large-scale successful attacks of Allied cryptographers on German and Japanese cryptosystems during World War II.

In the second session, I will discuss some electronic cryptographic systems developed since 1970. Special emphasis will be given to “public key” cryptosystems, which have made modern Internet commerce possible. Everybody is using such systems daily, whether they shop online, share sensitive work documents, or send WhatsApp videos to family members. These systems rely on mathematical results that are centuries old, coming from some of the “purest” areas of mathematics.

The third session will look at topics of current and future interest. I will discuss digital signature schemes, basic blockchain concepts that are made possible by such schemes, and the use of blockchains in cryptocurrencies and beyond. I will also talk about the fundamental threat to internet security that will come from quantum computers – if and when such futuristic devices are built.

Throughout, the course will pay attention to the human element in cryptography. Human weaknesses and errors have always compromised even very strong cryptosystems. Opportunities for high-level professional achievement for women arose earlier in cryptography than in many other technical fields. To this day, amateurs with unconventional backgrounds can make substantial contributions.

Computer demonstrations that involve the audience will be used throughout the course.

Hans Engler was born in Germany and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Heidelberg in 1981. He came to the US for postdoctoral training that year and began teaching at Georgetown in 1984. He served as mathematics department chair in the 1990s and started two masters’ programs in applied mathematics and in data analytics in the following decades. He also worked for several tours as a program officer at the National Science Foundations, held guest scientist appointments at NIST and NOAA, and worked as a consultant. His scientific interests are in applied mathematics and data science, with applications in climate science. He lives in Bethesda, MD with his wife. Together they have two adult children and two grandchildren.

White Supremacy as a Theory of History: How a Christianized Race Dominance Culminated in the Capitol Coup

Prof. Edward Ingebretsen

Thursday, November 2, 9, 16, and 30 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

White supremacy is an interlocking system of race and cultural practices. Based on Enlightenment-crafted colonial law and philosophies, this theory of history celebrates a linear trajectory of “Western” values, linking “cultural progress” to essentially, demography and biology. This course considers how a casual shorthand of ‘race’ codifies within its confusing terms an archeology of culture — one that is less about biology than it is about systems of colonial law, customs, social and commercial economic practices.

This four-session course provides a general overview of these politics, religions, theories, and messianic religious tropes. The cultural landscape of the US is replete with signs and symbols of what might be termed an American Occult. In the name of empire, this mix of warring nationalisms and apocalyptic motifs produced a number of ‘new world’ nations built upon the foundational anchor of enslaved-product labor. The United States — itself a colonial-based slaver republic — provides — and considered itself through the early 20th century — a justifying example of this movement to the empire.

Ed Ingebretsen is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of English and a former Director of the American Studies Program. His current teaching and research interests include American cultural studies (Gothic and popular culture and gay and lesbian studies) and theology and social history human rights issues, particularly enslavement and Indigenous peoples of the US; he has taught Animal Ethics for the Justice and Peace Program; Ingebretsen has a broad audience across internet platforms for his webinar series on archeological history of justice.

Ingebretsen earned his Ph.D. from Duke University and M.A. and B.A. degrees from Loyola University. Selected Publications he has written are: At Stake: Monsters and the Rhetoric of Fear in Public Culture. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2001; Maps of Heaven, Maps of Hell: Religious Terror as Memory from the Puritans to Stephen King. NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996; Robert Frost’s Star in a Stone Boat: A Grammar of Belief. SF: International Scholar’s P, 1995.Psalms of the Still Country. San Jose: Resource Publ. 1982; To Keep from Singing. San Jose: Resource Publ. 1985. Selected essays: “Wigglesworth, Mather, Starr: Sex, Witches and General Wickedness in Public.” in Puritan Origins of Sex (Routledge: 2000); “Rethinking Plato, When the Cave is a Closet. “Queer Pedagogies, NCET Publishers, 1999;”’ One of the Guys’” or ‘One of the Girls’”: Gender and the Problem of Authority in the Roman Catholic Clergy. “Religion and Sexuality. (April 1999); “Gone Shopping: The Commodification of Same-Sex Desire.” Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity, Vol. 4, no. 2, (April 1999) He is currently working on the book Sanctuary as Torture: Ecclesiology and the Diminishment of Human Rights.

Art and Medicine

Prof. Caroline Wellbery

Wednesday, November 1, 8, and 15 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

This course explores how art can convey the healthcare experience through images and stories. We will draw mostly on short texts and contemporary artworks to reflect on how the arts/humanities can help train medical professionals by honing empathy, observational skills, and active listening.  We will also address the quality of patients’ experiences, using Arthur Frank’s taxonomy of narratives, which he categorizes as stories of restitution, chaos, and quest.

Finally, we will look at examples of the ways in which the arts help highlight contemporary problems in the healthcare system, including societal inequities, affecting both patients and their providers. The format will emphasize high levels of interaction and in-class analysis. We will encourage conversations about the participants’ own experiences and/or perceptions of their doctors.

Dr. Caroline Wellbery is a graduate of the University of California School of Medicine and Stanford University, where she earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. She is the Associate Deputy Editor of American Family Physician and a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine. Her interests include writing, language, literature in medicine, and using the arts to teach the many aspects of patients’ experiences. She has built her website, Interacting with the Arts in Medicine, around these interests. Her other major interest centers on climate change and health in medical education, particularly in preparing future health professionals to advance climate change solutions through patient education and advocacy, and sustainable practices in the healthcare sector. She has presented her work both nationally and internationally.

Shakespeare’s Comedies

Prof. Michael Collins

Tuesdays. November 14, 21, 28, and December 5 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

This short course will examine the conventions of romantic comedy which were created by Greek dramatists in Athens, worked and reworked by Shakespeare in fifteen plays, and continue to be employed more than 2000 years later by scriptwriters in Hollywood. We shall then look at one of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies (As You Like It), a problem comedy (The Merchant of Venice), and a late romance (The Winter’s Tale). The discussions will be supplemented by selections from filmed performances of the plays.

Michael Collins is Teaching Professor Emeritus in the Department of English. He has taught Shakespeare and modern British Theatre. Articles on Shakespeare (focus on performance and pedagogy), modern British poetry, and American literature. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. from New York University and his B.A. from Fordham College. Publications Collins has written include; Co-Editor (with Michael Scott) of Christian Shakespeare.