Lifelong Learner Seminars 2019-2020

The final two class sessions of James Griesheimer's course, Viennese School: Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven have been postponed indefinitely.

Welcome to the 2019-2020 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. (Note: November's course goes into December due to the Thanksgiving Holiday) Total cost for each seminar is $30. This year's program will include morning refreshments, coffee and tea. There will be no lunch included this year, however, participants who wish to continue discussing the topic over lunch after class are welcome to join one another at Oneota Market in the Dahl Centennial Union.

Participants can choose from the four courses listed below. Class size is limited to thirty-two (32) spots. If there are more than 32 requests for a particular class, a lottery drawing will determine the class list. If you sign up as a couple, you will always be drawn together. Applicant names not drawn will be placed in another class according to their ranked choice(s).

We encourage you to use the Lifelong Learner Seminar Online Registration Form to register for the seminars. If you are unable to use the online form, you may stop at the Alumni Office in Loyalty Hall to manually make your choices. Registration is closed for BOTH Ruth Caldwell's course, The French "Philosophes" and Our American Experiment and James Griesheimer's The Viennese School: the Music of Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven. Maximum capacity for each class is 32.  We are keeping a waiting list for both courses. Call the Alumni Office at 563-387-1164 to inquire.

Class Lists are here!

After receiving notification on the seminar(s) for which you are registered, payment will be due at the Alumni Office before October 7, 2019.

Oct. 9, 16, 23, 30

Understanding Judaism with Richard Simon Hanson

While a professor at Luther College from 1963 to 1999, Professor Emeritus of Religion Richard Simon Hanson taught an immensely popular course entitled "The History of Judaism." This course will be a "greatly abridged" version of that course with a new title.

Each participant will need a reliable translation of the The Bible (definitely NOT that dumbed-down paraphrase called The Good News Bible).

In the opening session we will consider the following Biblical readings (You may wish to read these in advance of class #1):
Genesis 38:1-26 and 43-44, plus 29:21-35
Joshua 15: especially versus 1-12
I Samuel 19 through II Samuel 5
I Kings 1-2 and 11-12
II Kings 17:24 to 20:21 and 24 to 25

Other readings will be assigned after each class session. Everyone should seek out a copy of Bella Chagall's book, First Encounter, which will be enjoyed during the final session of the class on October 30. Written by the late wife of famed artist Marc Chagall, it is a delightful collection of childhood memories of growing up in pre-revolutionary Russia and is illustrated by her husband.

Richard Simon Hanson

Dr. Richard Simon Hanson grew up in rural Wisconsin with a love of farm life that has led a journey of learning, teaching, and sharing. He received his B.Th. and M.Th. from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Luther College where he taught for nearly 40 years. A respected storyteller, chaplain, caregiver, mentor, and educator, Richard Simon now spends many days a week volunteering and visiting with those giving and receiving skilled, nursing home, and hospice care. He was a member of the Dead Sea Scrolls archaeology and translation team, and was awarded the Carnegie Foundation "US Professor of the Year Award" for Iowa in 1998. He is the author of several theological and related works, including his own translation of the Book of Psalms.




Nov. 6, 13, 20, Dec. 4

The Search for Wholeness: Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" with Carol Gilbertson and Mark Z. Muggli

Virginia Woolf's masterpiece To the Lighthouse is on everyone's list of the world's hundred greatest novels, but also on many people's list of "haven't yet read." For class participants this will be the time. The course will outline the Modernist movement of which Woolf was a central figure, provide background on Woolf's life and other writings, and offer opportunity for the careful reading and open-ended discussion of a moving novel that explores gender, family dynamics, artistic creativity, intimate subjectivity, and the spiritual quest for wholeness.

Carol Gilbertson

Carol Gilbertson, Professor Emerita of English, has taught a range of literary works in her 43 years at Luther, including such works as Antigone, Paradise Lost, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and The Waste Land. She especially enjoyed introducing students to the pleasures and complexities of reading poems and has herself published prize-winning poems and a collection, From a Distance, Dancing (2011). She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and her published essay on teaching won an award from the National Council of Teachers of English. She has chaired the English Department, co-chaired the Paideia program, and co-founded the Lutheran Festival of Writing (now the Luther College Writers Festival). As Jones Distinguished Professor in the Humanities (2002-04), she developed the Luther Poetry Project, which brought poems into the foreground of campus life. A graduate of Augustana (S.D.), she earned an M.A. from North Carolina, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. 

Mark Z. Muggli

Luther Professor Emeritus of English Mark Z. Muggli developed the college’s first courses in creative nonfiction, but also taught fiction, poetry, writing, and drama, with special emphasis on plays in performance. He has a special interest in British literature. He served as associate academic dean, Paideia program director, and English department chair. As the the 2011-13 Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities, he developed the wide-reaching program “Our Shakespeare.” Muggli earned the B.A. at St. John’s University (Minn.) and the M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.






Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26

(THIS COURSE IS CLOSED) The French "Philosophes" and our American Experiment with Ruth Caldwell

Our Founding Fathers read them and met some of them in Paris. James Madison considered Montesquieu "the father of the Constitution." What might the most famous of these 18th century philosophers say to us today? To begin, we will distinguish between a "philosophe" and a philosopher, and consider the social context of their writing in the 18th century. After some biographical information, we will read and discuss short excerpts from these writers: Montesquieu, The Persian Letters and The Spirit of the Laws, (including the idea of the separation of powers, the danger of despotism, influence on the U.S. Constitution), Voltaire: a selection from letters and short stories (for example, Micromégas and Candide), emphasizing the idea of tolerance and openness to other cultures (and enjoying his sense of humor), and  Rousseau: his opposition to Voltaire, his construct of Nature versus Society and his ideas in The Social Contract and other writings.

Ruth Caldwell

Professor Emerita of French, Ruth Caldwell, holds a doctorate in French from the University of Chicago, where the "Philosophes" were one of her areas of specialty. She retired from Luther College in 2015, after a career of 44 years which included two years as Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities. At Luther, she taught French and Italian language and literature. She introduced the "Philosophes" into courses on Eighteenth Century French Literature as well as culture courses in English.






March 4, 11, 18, 25

(THIS COURSE IS CLOSED) The Viennese School: Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven with James Griesheimer

Our course examines the musical developments of the Viennese Classical Period. Over the course of roughly seventy-five years (ca. 1750-1825), Europe’s musical landscape is transformed by a reordering of  musical conventions. The symphony and the string quartet are newly invented, and the venerable genres of opera, oratorio and concerto continue to be cultivated although in a new language. Baroque certitude has yielded to Classical irony and ambiguity.

As focal points of our study we will develop biographies of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven with emphasis on family background, training and influences, major positions and
representative works. In the case of each, we will do surveys of appropriate genres, e.g. Haydn string quartets, Mozart operas, and Beethoven symphonies. All subjects will be accompanied by relevant musical examples.

James Griesheimer

Professor Emeritus of Music James Griesheimer earned his doctorate from Indiana University and was a Fulbright scholar to Munich, (1973-75) in musicology. James came to Luther after teaching a few years at Middlebury College in Vermont. At Luther, Griesheimer mostly taught music history courses, and has also done a lot of work in radio, innumerable music camps, retreats, workshops, and public talks on musical topics. By all accounts, he is a fantastic lecturer, and peppers even casual conversation with historical gems. Griesheimer has a talent for animating his material and getting students excited about it too. Griesheimer’s speaking skills are also put to good use during his sermons. Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2010, he serves parishes in Decorah, Charles City, Waverly and Cedar Falls, Iowa. Griesheimer is president of Symra, the Decorah Norwegian Literary Society, and has also been a private pilot (Cessna 150 and 172) since 1967.


What to Look for NEXT YEAR! 
Registration will be available late summer 2020

September/October 2020 SEMINAR
September 21 and 30, October 14 and 21

The United States 2020 Presidential Election with Paul Gardner

The seminar will be run in a spirit of conversation and civility. The main purpose of our four meetings will be to work collaboratively toward a better understanding of America’s political divisions and how these divisions are (or are not) represented in the presidential campaign of 2020. Short articles and book chapter excerpts will be assigned weekly to provide the starting point for our discussions, as well as regular attention to sites such as Five Thirty Eight and Real Clear Politics. Topics will include: Why America is so polarized at this point in its history? What are the world views that underlie America’s divisions? What are the most compelling issues in the 2020 campaign? How does the 2020 election in America fit into what is occurring in other democracies?

Professor Emeritus of Political Science Paul Gardner

Professor Emeritus of Political Science Paul Gardner taught at Luther from 1985 to 2018. He taught three seminars on American presidential elections, in 2008, 2012 and 2016. As a Fulbright scholar to Romania spring 2020, he will teach and lecture on American democracy, polarization and the American presidential election of 2020.