GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LEARNING COMMUNITY

FALL  2021


Of Beauty and Horror:  Literature and Film in Latin America (Registration Closed)

Veronica Salles-Reese

Associate Professor of Latin American Literature, Emerita

Tuesdays: October 5, 12 and 19

10:30 am – 12 noon

We will explore how beauty and horror are represented in film and literature.  Art, music and festivals are intertwined with violence, lawlessness and trauma in certain periods of Latin American history. We will focus on three novels and three films representative of Argentina, Peru and Colombia, countries that have been victims of violence, yet have had an enormous cultural production.  How can we understand these cultural manifestations that, at times are testimonials, accusations and, at other times, function as catharsis and a search for justice?  Each of the works attempts to be a paradigmatic example to illustrate particular aspects of the culture and history that has produced them.

Veronica Salles-Reese is Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture, Emerita.  She was director of the Latin American Certificate program (2001-2017) and director of the Summer in Ecuador Program (2004-2018).   She is the co-editor of Politics, Identity and Mobility in Travel Writing (London: Routledge, 2015), editor of Autores y actores del mundo colonial: Nuevos aportes interdisciplinarios. (Quito: USFQ, 2008); Remembering the Past, Retrieving the Future/ Recordando el pasado, recuperando el futuro (Bogota: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 2005) and Colonial Latin America: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Latin American Literary Review, 1998). She is also the author of From Viracocha to the Virgin of Copacabana: History of the Representation of the Sacred in Lake Titicaca (University of Texas Press.  1997). Prof. Salles-Reese was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia in the Spring of 2011, Visiting Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in  2006, and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. She was a Fullbright scholar in Colombia in 2006 and College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012.


Crime and Punishment in The 21 St Century

Judith Lichtenberg

Professor of Philosophy (and Adjunct Professor of Law) Emerita

Thursdays: October 14, 21 and 28

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

In this course we will begin by addressing the standard justifications for criminal punishment—primarily deterrence, general and specific, and retribution. We’ll go on to consider how they apply (or fail to apply) to twenty-first century American society in light of racial and economic discrimination and disparities.

Judith Lichtenberg is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Georgetown University; she retired in 2020. Previously she taught at the University of Maryland, where she held a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. She has written about international and domestic justice, moral psychology, nationalism, war, and higher education. Since 2016 she has taught and volunteered at Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland and at the DC Jail. She also serves on the advisory board of Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative. Her book Distant Strangers: Ethics, Psychology, and Global Poverty was published in 2014. With Robert Fullinwider, she coauthored Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions (2004). She also edited Democracy and the Mass Media (1990). 


Genes, Brain And Mind

Joseph Neale

Professor of Biology Emeritus

Wednesdays: October 20, 27 of and November 3

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

We appreciate from simple observations that we are unique products of our genes and our experiences. But how does this come about? Genes are nothing more than enormously long chains made up of only four simple molecules, abbreviated A, T, G and C. How does one get a functioning brain from such simple stuff? In part one of this miniseries, we will explore some basic ideas about how the complex of 100 billion highly interconnected nerve cells that constitute the human brain develops at the direction of genes. In the second segment the role of genes in normal brain functions like memory will be explored in conjunction with the effects of human experience on genes – epigenetics. In part three, the interactions among genes and drugs such as alcohol, cannabis and antidepressants, will be discussed.

Joseph Neale, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Department of Biology Georgetown University. Professor Neale was born at Georgetown University Hospital shortly after D-Day. He earned his BS and PhD degrees in Biology at Georgetown. He pursued post-doctoral research in neurochemistry at the Mental Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan and in developmental neurobiology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH.  Professor Neale joined the Department of Biology at Georgetown in 1978 as an Assistant Professor rising to Full Professor in 1988 and Chair of the Department of Biology in 1990.  After directing a neurobiology research group at Georgetown for nearly 40 years with support from the NIH, he retired to emeritus status in 2017. He currently teaches Neurodisorders, a core course in the undergraduate Neurobiology major which he cofounded. He has published over 100 research articles and is the recipient of university awards for teaching and research. 


Political Islam and Modern Muslim Populism: Sultans, Mullahs, and Rappers

John Voll

Professor of Islamic History Emeritus

Tuesdays: November 9, 16 and 23

10:30 am -12 noon

Political Islam and Muslim activist populism take many different forms in the modern era. They range from radical revolutionary and fundamentalist organizations to televangelists and rappers expressing their Islamic faith through contemporary popular media. This course will discuss this broad diversity of movements and ideologies in order get a better understanding of global Muslim life in the contemporary era. The first session will directly cover the evolution of modern Political Islam from being a part of nationalist politics to being a framework for defining political systems that are both modern and Islamic. The second session will look more directly at the development of Islamic modernism, noting how the changing nature of modernity itself influenced the evolving nature of Islamic modernism. The third session will examine the ways that popular expressions of Islamic faith have changed as media technology has changed. The emerging populism is both religious and political in its importance and will be seen as an important dimension of Muslim life in the 21st century.

John O. Voll is Professor Emeritus of Islamic History and past Associate Director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. He graduated from Dartmouth College and received his M.A. degree in Middle Eastern Studies and his Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. He taught Middle Eastern and world history for thirty years at the University of New Hampshire before moving to Georgetown University. He is a specialist in modern Islamic history and the author of Islam: Continuity and Change in the Modern World (Westview, 1982), co-editor of Asian Islam in the 21st Century (Oxford, 2007), co-author of Islam and Democracy After the Arab Spring (Oxford, 2015), and author, co-author, or editor of ten other books.


Three Irish Playwrights: Synge, Friel and McPherson

Michael Collins

Professor of English Emeritus

Thursdays: November 4, 11 and 18

10:30 am – 12 noon

In this short course we shall discuss the work of three 20th Century Irish playwrights—John Millington Synge (1871-1909), Brian Friel (1929-2015), and Conor McPherson (b. 1971).  We shall look closely at three plays—The Playboy of the Western World (Synge), Translations (Friel), and The Weir (McPherson).    Participants are asked to read the plays carefully before the class in which they are scheduled to be discussed.   The focus of the course will be on the ways the plays work on the stage and the ways they reflect the history and mythology of Ireland.  Participants might want to read James Joyce’s short story, “The Dead,” in preparation for the course.  Brian Friel, by the way, was awarded an honorary degree by Georgetown University in 1994.     

Michael Collins is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English. He is Dean Emeritus of the School for Summer and Continuing Education at Georgetown (now the School of Continuing Studies) where he served for 22 years and he also served as Director of the Villa Le, the University’s Study Center in Fiesole, Italy. He is an expert on Shakespeare; British theatre since 1950; and Anglo-Welsh poetry. He has authored numerous articles on Shakespeare, Anglo-Welsh 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: Editor, Shakespeare’s Sweet Thunder: Essays on the Early Comedies (Delaware, 1997). Prof. Collins was nominated for the Gerald M. Mara Faculty Mentoring Award. He has also received the DavidR. Jones Lifetime Service Award from The Fund for American Studies for “significant contributions to the advancement of the ideas of freedom and service,” Georgetown University’s Alumni Admissions Program Board of Advisors Award.


The New Cosmic Story and the Meaning of Faith

John Haught

Distinguished Research Professor of Theology Emeritus

Wednesdays: November 10, 17 and December 1

10:30 am – 12 noon

This course seeks to understand religion in the context of our new scientific story of the universe. The arrival of religion is one of the most intriguing developments not only in human but also in cosmic history. Yet the significance of religion for our understanding of the universe and vice-versa remains largely unexplored. Participants are encouraged, though not required, to read John F Haught, The New Cosmic Story: Inside Our Awakening Universe (Yale University Press).

John F. Haught (Ph. D. Catholic University, 1970) is Distinguished Research Professor, Georgetown University, Washington DC. He was formerly Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University (1970-2005) and Chair (1990-95). His area of specialization is systematic theology, with a particular interest in issues pertaining to science, cosmology, evolution, ecology, and religion. Among the books he published are Resting On the Future: Catholic Theology for an Unfinished Universe (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2015), Science and Faith: A New Introduction (New York: Paulist Press, 2012), Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and The Drama of Life (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, February 2010) and God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (Louisville: 2003). He lectures internationally on many issues related to science and religion. In 2002 he was the winner of the Owen Garrigan Award in Science and Religion and in 2004 the Sophia Award for Theological Excellence in Fall 2008 he held the D’Angelo Chair in the Humanities at St. John’s University in New York City. In April 2009 he received an honorary doctorate from Louvain University, Belgium.