Lifelong Learner Seminars 2022-23

Lifelong Learner Seminar

Welcome to the 2022-23 season of Lifelong Learner Seminars at Luther College. Our seminars offer an opportunity for area people to enjoy the academic program at Luther College and engage in meaningful scholarly dialogue and study in a college setting.

Each seminar lasts for one month (four Wednesday sessions) during the months of October, November, February, and March, and combines lectures with discussion, and an opportunity to socialize from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Loyalty Hall Board Room. The programs include coffee, tea, water and a light snack. We will ask for free-will contributions to cover the costs for the coffee, etc...

Class size is limited to twenty-five (25) spots. If you sign up as a couple, you will be accepted together. Registration is first-come; first-served until we are full.

We encourage you to register online. A form will be available later this summer. If you are unable to use the online form, you may call the Alumni Office at 563-387-1861.

SEMINAR 2. The Grapes of Wrath: Then and Now, with (Simpson College) Professor Emerita of English Nancy St. Clair

November 2022

When American author John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962 the committee cited his novel The Grapes of Wrath as a masterpiece of realism, one that compassionately explored how the intersection of politics, environment, and economics shaped the lives of individuals pursuing the American dream. Published in 1939 while the Great Depression (1929-41) and the Dust Bowl (@1930-40) raged, causing millions of Americans to lose their homes and livelihoods, forcing them to seek food and shelter on the road and in soup lines the novel still resonates today and has never gone out of print.In The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck follows one family, the Joads of Oklahoma, as they lose their small farm and travel to California in search of work and a better life.

During our time together we will discuss the nature, complexity, and implications of the American Dream, a phrase we hear frequently, especially during political campaigns. We will explore Steinbeck’s depiction of how that dream is realized (or not) and shaped by geography, class bias, economic policy, farming practices, and environmental factors as the Joad family make their laborious way across the west in search of better lives for themselves and their family, learning as they go how communities are formed, strengthened, and broken apart.

I chose this novel because I see so many parallels to the world Steinbeck created and the one we live in now. The gap between the rich and the poor has only grown greater in the decades since The Grapes of Wrath was first published. And while jobs seem plentiful many do mot pay enough to support individuals or families. We face environmental catastrophe of even greater significance than those he depicted. And ours, like those in the novel are of our own making. I firmly believe literature can offer us ways to deal, if not always, solve our problems and I believe that this novel still offers hope and encouragement for readers in need of it.

SEMINAR 3. American Scene Painting: From the Ashcan School to Abstract Expressionism with Robert Wolf

February 2023

The purpose of this course is not only to introduce participants to the variety of subjects and styles within the American Scene movement but to have them learn, through hands-on practice, to see the structure and color choices of several major compositions. As group a of participants learn to see the levels of skill and knowledge great painters brings to their work, they can carry this forward into future encounters with art.

Robert Wolf is a writer and visual artist. He is also the director of Free River Press, a nonprofit publishing company that documents contemporary American life through writing workshops that Wolf conducts across the country. Free River Press books have been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and CBS Sunday Morning. His past lives include five years of college teaching and several years as a feature writer and columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

Ashcan School
Stieglitz:Gallery 291
The Taos Eight
Santa Fe —Los Cinco Pintores
Institute of American Indian Arts
The Mexican Mural Movement
WPA murals
Benton, Wood, Curry & Others