Fall 2013 Course Offerings


Alumni College Fall Semester 2013 Course Offerings



“The European Literary Tradition: Tragic Drama”
Location: New York
Professor Gordon Trunbull

From classical times to the present, the literature of tragedy has posed searching ethical and emotional questions about us as beings capable both of great nobility and great error, of grandeur and grotesquery, of immense charity and of immense cruelty, and critics and spectators have long wondered about what so compels us to attend spectacles of suffering. This course will explore these questions through discussion of selected works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Eurpides, Shakespeare, Racine, Ibsen, Chekhov and Beckett.


“In the American Grain”
Location: New York
Professor Alan Trachtenberg

The class will examine ideas and images regarding “America” among selected nineteenth and twentieth century writers. Readings will start with Emerson, who argued that poets have a  central role in creating a national culture derived from the particulars of American life, then move to Whitman’s attempt in “Song of Myself” and other poems to play that formative role. Next, the class will take up responses to the Emerson-Whitman program among three twentieth century “modernist” poets, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, and photographer Walker Evans in his “American Photographs.” Readings and discussion will focus on no more than one or two key works by each figure.


“Great Russian Short Stories”
Location: New York
Professor Michael Holquist

Most Americans think of Russian literature as dominated by the novel.  Yet many of the greatest novelists also explored the very different genre of the short story.  In this course we will read examples from six nineteenth century masters of the form, including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Chekhov.   After a brief introduction covering the biographical and historical context of the stories, we will discuss the works themselves.


“The Canterbury Tales:  General Prologue and Five Tales”
Location: New Haven
Professor Traugott Lawler

Abstract:   I would like people to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, as we do in English 125, though anyone who wanted to use a modernized version could do so.  The five tales are those of the Knight, the Miller, the Wife of Bath (with her Prologue), the Nuns' Priest, and the Pardoner.


“A History of the English Language”
Location: New Haven
Professor Fred Robinson

The course begins with the identification of the place of English among the world’s languages, and reviewing major historical events that have impacted the English language. This would be followed by a brief discussion of the history of English grammar, leading to a discussion of the vocabulary of English – where English words come from, how new words are formed, and foreign sources of English words. Next would be a discussion of semantics – how the meaning of English words develop and change over time. Then there would be a review of lexicography – how English dictionaries are made, what the major dictionaries of English are, and how to use them.  The concluding segment would address English and American regional and social dialects.

“The Health Care Crisis: How it arose, and what is to be done”
Location: New Haven
Dr. John Hughes

Through a series of short presentations and interactive discussions, the course will examine how and why health care costs have been rising uncontrollably in all developed nations, but especially in the United States. We will examine the relative contributions to rising costs in the U.S., including the increasing use of technology, an aging population, misplaced economic incentives, and the lack of spending constraints compared to other developed nations.  We will review the structure and financing of the U.S. health care system, building toward an examination of the major options for containing health care costs, including markets, regulation, capitation-based payment, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and hospital- focused strategies.  The course will conclude with a review of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, giving consideration to how effective it will be in both expanding access and containing costs.


“Vikings at Home and Away”
Location: New Haven
Professor Anders Winroth

The course introduces students to the history and culture of the Vikings, famous for their bloodthirst and ferocious attacks on Europe. We will contextualize their deeds and introduce nuance into their usual image, studying not only their warlike endeavors but also their peaceful activities in trade, literature, and art.

“Opera on Screen”
Location: Greenwich
Professor Judith Malafronte

An introduction to opera, focusing on the Metropolitan Opera Company’s Live in HD transmissions of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (October 5), Shostakovich’s The Nose (October 26), Puccini’s Tosca (November 9), and Verdi’s Falstaff (December 14). Course participants will examine librettos and source material, and will be introduced to the social and musical conventions of opera. We will consider dramaturgy, casting requirements and the concept of vocal Fach, language, artistic collaboration, the rehearsal process, reception and criticism, along with the historical aspects of opera production.