Meeman Spring 2017 Courses

Elvis Presley’s America

Dr. Charles Hughes

Few figures in U.S. History have been as compelling and controversial as Presley. Even 35 years after his death, fans still purchase his recordings and come to Memphis to visit Graceland, Sun Studios, and other landmarks. At the same time, from the pages of scholarship to the stages of American Idol, his legacy remains a potent subject of discussion and debate. The course will examine Presley’s life and career and explore what they tell us about the broader history of the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Text: Elvis Presley: A Life by Bobbie Ann Mason

ISBN: 978-0143038894

Charles Hughes, PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison; Director, The Memphis Center at Rhodes College

Five Thursdays: March 2, 16, 23, 30, April 6

5:30-7:30 p.m. | Tuition: $180 | 1 CEU


The Glories of “The Vault”

Mr. Bill Short

The Barret Library of Rhodes College houses a wide array of objects in its Special Collections. They range from 2,000 year old Roman coins to the more modern collections focused on Shelby Foote and Richard Halliburton. Along the way there are many rare books, some signed by the author, and manuscript leaves ranging from the 11th century to the present, and some beautiful 16th century maps. The Farnsworth Shakespeare Print Collection has several hundred 19th century engravings all dealing with Shakespeare, including the famous actors and directors of the day.

Items from the Jessie L. Clough Art Memorial for Teaching will include porcelains, lacquerware, Japanese woodblock prints, textiles, Russian icons, and some robes from the court of the last Emperor of China.

Over a three week period, Bill Short, Curator of the Special Collections, will bring selections from across this spectrum to be viewed and discussed in class. He will explain how these things came to be housed here at the College and how they are being used currently for teaching and, on occasion, loaned to museums. He will explain how there is now digital access to many of these items.

Just for fun, there will also be a sampling from Walter Armstrong’s extensive collection of ‘Sherlockiana’: things relating to the intriguing world of Sherlock Holmes!

So much to enjoy – we can only see the highlights in this class!

Note: The Barret Library’s Archives is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. or by appointment.

Text: A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

ISBN: 978-0670022700

Bill Short, MLS Vanderbilt University; Associate Director, Barret Library (Archivist and Curator of Special Collections)

Three Tuesdays: March 21, 28, and April 4

5:30-7:30 p.m. | Tuition: $105 | .6 CEU


Great Decisions in Foreign Policy

Prof. Stephen Ceccoli

A review of important global issues confronting U.S. foreign policy decision makers. The course meets in the evening for two hours, once a week for eight weeks. The teaching of this course is shared as each member of the International Studies departmental faculty will deliver one lecture. The course is open to Rhodes College students as well as Meeman Center students. Topics this spring include the Future of Europe, Trade and Politics, Conflict in the South China Sea, Saudi Arabia in Transition, U.S. Foreign Policy and Petroleum, Latin America’s Political Pendulum, Prospects for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and nuclear security.

Eight Tuesdays: January 17, 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28; March 14

6:00-8:00 p.m. | Tuition: $300 | 1.6 CEU


Inclusion & Equity: Intentionality in

Organizational & Community Engagement

Dr. Noelle Chaddock

Dr. Chaddock, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion at Rhodes College and the recent Chief Diversity Officer for The State University of New York in Cortland, brings her experience working with community organizations, non-profits, police agencies, and college communities to the Meeman Center. Participants will have an opportunity to think together about intentionality around inclusion and equity as imperative to leadership and engagement. Dr. Chaddock will work with participants on self-study, assessment, cultural responsiveness, coalition and action building, and the larger conversation about diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

Text: The Matrix Reader: Examining the Dynamics of Oppression and Privilege by Abby Ferber, Christina Jimenez, Andrea Herrera, and Dena Samuels

ISBN: 978-0073404110

Additional supplemental materials to be provided by the instructor.

Noelle Chaddock, PhD State University of New York at Binghamton; Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion at Rhodes College

Three Tuesdays: April 11, 18, 25

5:30-7:30 p.m. | Tuition: $105 |  .6 CEU


Politics & Conflict in the Middle East

Prof. Esen Kirdis

Six years after the events of the Arab Spring, which inspired calls for democratization and change, the Middle East is dominated by instability and uncertainty: Egypt’s emerging democracy has reverted back to authoritarianism, Iraq remains unstable and internally divided, no end is in sight in Syria’s multifaceted civil war, and Yemen and Libya have both fallen into internationally-backed civil wars. To understand the root causes of these conflicts in the Middle East today, this course will look into the following four themes each week:

1-Egypt: From the Arab Spring to the Arab Winter

2-Iraq: Saddam, US, and the Kurds

3-Syria: The Syrian Civil War and the Rise of ISIS

4-Yemen and Libya: Internationally-Backed Civil Wars

Text: Readings will be provided as pdf’s.

Esen Kirdis, PhD, University of Minnesota; Assistant Professor, International Studies

Four Tuesdays: February 7, 14, 21, 28

5:30-7:30 p.m. | Tuition: $140 | .8 CEU


Presidential Leadership in a Nation Divided: Lincoln, the Constitution, & the Civil War

Prof. Timothy Huebner

The presidential election of 1860 forever changed America. When Abraham Lincoln won, seven states of the Deep South refused to accept the results and seceded from the rest of the country. When the seceded states fired on a federal fort, Lincoln responded by going to war. Although the eleven Southern states that ultimately seceded did so to protect slavery, Lincoln and the North went to war to preserve the Union. And yet, as the war unfolded, African Americans helped turn the conflict into a war for emancipation. This course examines Lincoln’s leadership in the midst of the “many-threaded drama” of the American Civil War. As Lincoln acted and reacted to wartime developments, he found a way to remain true to his principles and remain true to the Constitution, while simultaneously defeating the rebels and redefining the nation.

Texts: Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography by William Gienapp

ISBN: 0195151003

The Essential Lincoln, by Orville V. Burton

ISBN: 0809043076

Tim Huebner, PhD University of Florida; Professor of History

Three Thursdays: February 9, 16, 23

5:30-7:30 p.m. | Tuition: $105 | .6 CEU


The School of Paris

Prof. Shira Malkin

In the early twentieth century, at a time of great visual experimentation (Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism), a new generation of foreign-born artists settled in Paris. First they congregated in Montmartre and then they moved to Montparnasse, which quickly became the world’s iconic cosmopolitan center of art. While some came from Western Europe (Picasso, Modigliani), Japan (Fujita), or Mexico (Diego Rivera), most of these immigrant artists were fleeing anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern Europe. The Jewish painters and sculptors of the School of Paris numbered more than 500 and included Chagall, Soutine, Pascin, Sonia Delaunay, Kisling, and Lipchitz. All evolved their distinctive style, buoyed by their newfound freedom in the French capital. In their art, they defiantly depicted the human figure – a forbidden subject in Jewish law – and dealt with issues such as poverty, personal alienation, and the spectacle of the changing city. They thrived against all odds until the onset of World War II when many emigrated or were deported. In 1945 a New School of Paris was reborn. This seminar will examine the artistic choices made by pre-war and post-war immigrant creators such as Chagall, the role that Paris and their Jewish identity played in their work, and their critical reception in France and abroad. It will also include a field trip to the Jay Etkin gallery in Cooper-Young for a guided tour of an exhibit of selected works by David Malkin (1910-2002), a painter affiliated with the New School of Paris.

Text: Readings will be provided as pdf’s.

Shira Malkin, PhD SUNY-Buffalo, Doctorat Université Paris-Diderot; Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures (French)

Three Tuesdays: January 17, 24, 31

5:30-7:30 p.m. | Tuition: $105 | .6 CEU



Search for Values in the Light of Western Philosophy & Religion

Profs. Joseph Jansen, Michael Flexsenhar, Ariel Lopez, Hannah Barker, and Lori Garner

This course will be taught by faculty drawn from the Search Program and will introduce Meeman students to some of the texts and cultures at the heart of Western liberal arts education.

Xenophon’s Ways & Means

Prof. Joseph Jansen

Xenophon (ca. 430-354 BCE) is not an author usually included in the Search curriculum but he should be. Scholars over the past quarter century have come to see Xenophon as an original thinker whose writings are far from pedestrian as once thought and whose ideas about politics and economics often contrast sharply with those of Athens’ other two great philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Xenophon was a Socratic but he saw in his teacher a philosopher, not of metaphysical speculation, but of practical wisdom, who endeavored to give his friends useful advice for making themselves and their city better. In this course, we will read Xenophon’s last work, Ways and Means, a short political pamphlet that aims to increase the revenues of the city and revitalize the economy after years of decline because of war and political mismanagement. To make sense of his proposals, we will have to spend some time examining the inner workings of the ancient Greek economy and stress how different it was from the modern, market-based economy, but given the current political discourse about making America “great” again, reflecting on Xenophon’s proposals will also afford us the opportunity to gain some much-needed perspective on the nature of such calls for economic renewal.

Text: Readings will be provided as pdf’s.

Joseph Jansen, PhD University of Texas; Assistant Professor, Greek and Roman Studies

Two Wednesdays: January 18, 25

5:30-7:30 p.m.


Thecla: Equal to the Apostles

Prof. Michael Flexsenhar

This course investigates one of the most important figures in early Christianity: a young virgin named Thecla from Iconium in Asia Minor. While sitting at her window one evening, Thecla hears the apostle Paul preaching across the way. She is transfixed. Subsequently abandoning all worldly attachments–her home, her fiancé, her own mother–and in the process transforming herself to become a follower of Christ and a companion of Paul, the story of Thecla resonates throughout the centuries as both controversial and inspirational. But who was Thecla, really? Why is she important? What can her story reveal about early Christianity, the apostle Paul and the New Testament? What can it suggest about current issues? This course will answer these questions.

Texts: Selections from the New Testament; other readings will be provided as pdf’s.

Michael Flexsenhar, PhD University of Texas; Assistant Professor, Religious Studies

Two Wednesdays: February 1, 8

5:30-7:30 p.m.


Augustine’s Confessions

Prof. Ariel Lopez

Augustine of Hippo is one of the most original thinkers and writers of Western history. In this class, we will discuss his most famous book: his Confessions. We will examine the context and conflicts of Augustine’s world: pagan vs. Christian, Roman vs. barbarian.

Text: Confessions by Saint Augustine (Translated by Henry Chadwick)

ISBN: 978-0199537822

Readings for Feb. 15: Book I, sections 7-23 and 30-31; Book II, entire; Book III, sections 1-2, 5-12, 18-21; Book IV, sections 1-2, 7-9, 13; Book V, sections 3, 6, and 10-13

Readings for Feb. 22: Book V, sections 14-25; Book VI, sections 1-3, 11-16, 21-25; Book VII, sections 1, 13, 16-19; Book VIII, sections 2-5, 13-15, 17, 28-30; Book IX, sections 4-7, 13-20, 23-27

Ariel Lopez, PhD Princeton University; Assistant Professor, Greek and Roman Studies

Two Wednesdays: February 15, 22

5:30-7:30 p.m.


Early Islam

Prof. Hannah Barker

In this class, we explore the early development of Islam through two key texts. The first is The Quran, the scriptural foundation of Islam, and the second is The Expeditions of Ibn Rashid, one of the earliest biographies of the Prophet Muhammad. We discuss basic beliefs and practices associated with Islam at its beginning, the growth of the Muslim community, its relations with various neighboring communities, and the status of women.

Texts: The Quran (Translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem)

ISBN: 978-0199535958

The Expeditions by Ibn Rashid (Translated by Sean Anthony)

ISBN: 978-1479816828

Hannah Barker, PhD Columbia University; Assistant Professor, History

Two Wednesdays: March 15, 22

5:30-7:30 p.m.


Attaining Truth: Medieval Uses of Classical Tradition

Prof. Hannah Barker

In this class, we explore how medieval thinkers adapted classical philosophical and literary traditions to meet the needs of their own time. We will focus on three figures: Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher of the twelfth century; Thomas Aquinas, a Christian philosopher of the thirteenth century; and Christine de Pizan, a poet and author of the fourteenth century. As they pursued their search for truth and meaning in life, each of these figures relied on classical tradition, yet each used it in a distinctive way that reflected their individual context and interests.  

Texts: The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan (Translated by Earl Richards)

ISBN: 978-0892552306

Additional readings will be provided as pdf’s.

Hannah Barker, PhD Columbia University; Assistant Professor, History

Two Wednesdays: March 29, April 5

5:30-7:30 p.m.


Old English Poetry

Prof. Lori Garner

Old English poetry represents the earliest surviving vernacular British literature, and its stories of heroes, saints, monsters, and exiles have long inspired such writers as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ezra Pound, and Seamus Heaney. This class serves as an introduction to the tremendous diversity and complexity of the Anglo-Saxon world, roughly the period spanning the 5th-11th centuries. Readings include not only heroic and epic verse but also elegies, riddles, religious poetry, and even healing charms.

Texts: Readings will be provided in translation as pdf’s.

Lori Garner, PhD University of Missouri, Columbia; Associate Professor, English

Two Wednesdays: April 12, 19

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Tuition for all twelve Search sessions: $400

2.4 CEU total

Tuition for any 2-class unit: $80

.4 CEU per 2-class unit



 World of Literature

Profs. Clara Pascual-Argente, Scott Newstok, Donald Tucker, and Alexandra Kostina

This course presents an array of literary works from around the world.

The Poem of the Cid

Prof. Clara Pascual-Argente

The Poem of the Cid, written at the beginning of the thirteenth century, is one of the foundational texts of Spanish epic, and a masterful literary work. It retells the heavily fictionalized life of a historical character, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, who is in the poem a nobleman unjustly exiled by the king of Castile and seeking to regain royal favor by conquering Muslim lands and riches. The Poem of the Cid provides us with a fascinating glimpse into how the medieval literary imagination was used to process or advance key political and cultural developments: the Christian conquest and colonization of Muslim territories in the Iberian Peninsula; the strengthening of monarchic power in Castile; or changes in the role of women and the institution of marriage throughout Western Europe.

Text: The Poem of the Cid: Dual Language Edition (Penguin Classics; Translated by Rita Hamilton and Janet Perry)

ISBN: 978-0140444469

Clara Pascual-Argente, PhD Georgetown University; Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures (Spanish)

Two Mondays: January 30, February 6

5:30-7:30 p.m.


The Jew of Malta

Prof. Scott Newstok

Text: Marlowe: Four Plays: Tamburlaine, Parts One and Two, The Jew of Malta, Edward II and Dr Faustus (New Mermaids Edition; Christopher Marlowe, Author, and Brian Gibbons, Editor)Christopher Marlowe’s Jew of Malta is a “savage comic farce,” deploying stock characters towards satirical ends. Are Marlowe’s Jews and Moors cultural stereotypes, or shots at English prejudices? This class will be held in anticipation of the February 22 Communities in Conversation / Pearce Shakespeare Endowment symposium on “Jews and Muslims in Shakespeare’s England,” with James Shapiro and Jerry Brotton (6 p.m. Hardie Auditorium; 5:30 p.m. reception).

ISBN: 978-1408149492

Scott Newstok, PhD Harvard University; Associate Professor, English

One Monday: February 20

5:30-7:30 p.m.


Madame Bovary

Prof. Donald Tucker

Following the publication of Madame Bovary in 1856, Gustave Flaubert was accused of having written a work that offended good customs as well as public and religious morality. Flaubert defended himself in the ensuing trial by claiming that his novel has an eminently moral purpose in that it exposes the dangers that result when a young woman receives an education that does not prepare her for the social milieu in which she is destined to live. The novel recounts the life and suicide of the beautiful but miserable Emma Bovary, who, resentful of her bourgeois marriage and eager to live an aristocratic life, abandons her duties as wife and mother and introduces adultery and financial ruin into her home.

Text: Madame Bovary (Penguin Classics, Translated by Geoffrey Wall)

ISBN: 978-0140449129

Donald Tucker, PhD University of North Carolina; Professor Emeritus, Modern Languages and Literatures (French)

Two Mondays: March 13, 20

5:30-7:30 p.m.


The Book of Journeys: Vodolazkin’s Laurus (2012)

Prof. Alexandra Kostina

It is the late fifteenth century and a village healer in Russia is powerless to help his beloved as she dies in childbirth, unwed and without having received communion. Devastated and desperate, he sets out on a journey in search of redemption. But this is no ordinary journey: it is one that spans ages and countries, and which brings him face-to-face with a host of unforgettable, eccentric characters and legendary creatures from the strangest medieval bestiaries. At each transformative stage of his journey he becomes more revered by the people, until he decides, one day, to return to his home village to lead the life of a monastic hermit – not realizing that it is here that he will face his most difficult trial yet. In this course we will explore the eternal themes of love, loss, self-sacrifice and faith, as we interpret this contemporary novel from one of Russia’s most exciting and critically acclaimed novelists.

Text: Laurus by Evgeny Vodolazkin (Translated by Lisa Hayden)

ISBN: 978-1780747552

Alexandra Kostina, PhD Gornyi University and Herzen State Pedagogical University; Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures (Russian)

Three Mondays: April 3, 10, 17

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Tuition for all eight World of Literature Classes: $300; 1.6 CEU

Tuition for The Poem of the Cid: $80; .4 CEU

Tuition for The Jew of Malta: $45; .2 CEU

Tuition for Madame Bovary: $80; .4 CEU

Tuition for The Book of the Journeys: Vodolazkin’s Laurus: $105; .6 CEU