Complacency and protest characterized the decade leading to the Civil War. Less than a century after the American Revolution, the United States was committed to westward expansion and economic prosperity regardless of the cost in human and natural resources. Yet many questioned policies such as slavery and the “removal” of Native American tribes from their traditional homelands, and others recognized in the era rampant materialism unchecked by any deeply felt religious or spiritual conviction. Women began to question why they were denied rights to property and education in a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal. Amid this atmosphere of tension, American thinkers and writers decided it was time to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution in the spiritual, cultural, and artistic spheres as well as the political and economic ones.
Do you want to explore the works of five important authors from The American Renaissance period in our county’s history? If you want the stimulation of being exposed to the minds of these provocative and entertaining writers who wonder about women’s rights, utopian communities, “manifest destiny,” and our responsibility for the natural environment, please join us for this “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion series. Some of our country’s finest writers and greatest classics await your first encounter or a renewed one after the passage of years. Perhaps you might even find associations with events in our contemporary experience of being Americans.
Oklahoma City University and its Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature invite participants to make these issues come “alive” in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the readings. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to preregister at no cost and borrow the reading selections by calling Harbour Winn at 521-5472, emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org, going to the web site www.okcu.edu/film-lit/, or dropping by OCU’s Walker Center 171. A brochure describing the series theme is also available.
The series will be held in Walker Center (corner of NW 25th and Florida), Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 16 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through November 11. “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” a cooperative project of the Oklahoma Library Association and the Oklahoma Humanities Council, provides books, theme materials, and services for this series. Funding for this series is provided by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
READINGS AND DATES
9/16/2003 Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century
Perhaps the first American feminist, Fuller’s book is a remarkable seminal work comparable to landmark publications of the 20th century such as Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Using mythology, history, and literary examples to show precedents for women’s equality, Fuller provides a blueprint for contemporary feminist criticism and psychology. Is this book historical or futuristic?
9/30/2003 Nathaniel Hawthorn’s The Blithedale Romance
Hawthorne’s romance about a love triangle and life at Brook Farm, a Utopian community experiment, raises provocative questions about friendship, family, romantic love, privacy, and our responsibility for our fellow human beings. Consider your own Utopian dreams and reality.
10/14/2003 Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
Thoreau’s celebration of nature and his call to “simplify” have inspired countless readers who yearn to escape from the demands of a fast-paced, materialistic lifestyle. Walden exhorts us even today to live simply and wisely, recognizing that “a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” Are there Walden ponds today? If so, what and how?
10/28/2003 Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man
Prophetically set on an earlier riverboat journey to the city of New Orleans, Melville’s novel presents a catalogue of character types and traits that warn us of the keenest of American hunters, those who prey upon all the other hunters–confidence men who manipulate the beliefs and confidences of others for gain. What riverboats do we journey on today?
11/11/2003 Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
Much more than a beloved children’s book, Alcott’s Little Women presents a family whose joy, pain and despair raises value questions about gender roles and options for women. At its center is Jo, a woman who refuses to give up her autonomy as payment for being born a woman. Encounter again a novel from your past, and this time perhaps see beyond the sentimentality associated with it to view the book in relation to your own value system today.