Great Books Seminar Discusses Human Relationships


Notre Dame College will present its fourth annual “Books That Changed the World” seminar, which explores timeless questions about human relationships, love, commitment, betrayal and loyalty, beginning Sept. 20.

The “Books That Changed the World” seminar series is a personal development experience providing anyone with a passion for lifelong learning the opportunity to meet eclectic and interesting people with whom to explore a common theme. This year’s seminar explores “Men and Women Together (or Not).

President Dr. Andrew P. Roth was interviewed by WCLV FM 104.9 radio personality Bill O’Connell about the fourth installment of the Great Books Seminar. Hear the interview in its entirety.

Download mp3 file.

Participants can choose between three sessions each month. The seminar will meet in the Great Room in the College’s Administration Building on the third Tuesday and following Wednesday and Thursday every month, beginning in September 2011 and ending in May 2012. During each session participants will explore a great work, beginning with a light breakfast at 7:30 a.m. followed by the discussion from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Note: The December sessions will take place a week earlier on the 13th, 14th and 15th. The January session features a film discussion. An epilogue will conclude the series on June 21, 2012. 

Selected readings will take you deep into the minds of some of history’s great figures – from Cleopatra to Elizabeth I -- and most profound thinkers – including Euripides, Shakespeare, Flaubert and others. At each session, our facilitators will ask provocative questions to stimulate conversation. The seminar’s true value emerges as the participants share their own insights and grapple with those of others. Participants will come away from each session challenged with new ideas and views they had not considered before.

College President Dr. Andrew P. Roth and Philosophy Professor Ken Palko will return as seminar leaders. Provost Dr. Mary Breckenridge, Director of the Abrahamic Center Dr. Michael Bloom and Professor of Theology and Women’s Studies Dr. Louise Prochaska will join them. All five presenters have years of experience in women’s studies, leadership theory, philosophy, theology and communication studies.

Enrollment will be $349 per person. For additional information visit or contact Karen Poelking, vice president for community relations, at 216.373.5239 or Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid.

The Reading List:

The Song of Songs (Bloch and Bloch Translation) -- September
One of the world’s oldest and most controversial love poems, the Biblical Song of Songs has been attributed to King Solomon and interpreted allegorically as a story of God’s love for the people of Israel and the love of Christ for the Church. But does this really tell the whole story? Using Ariel and Chana Bloch’s recent translation of The Song of Songs, we’ll explore this sensuous, frank and intoxicating lyrical narrative of love as the greatest power on earth.

Hippolytus by Euripides -- October
This ancient Greek tragedy was first performed in 428 B.C. for the City Dionysian festival in Athens. A crowd favorite, it won Euripides a first place prize for his trilogy. In the play, Phaedra falls madly in love with Hippolytus, her stepson. Her advances refused, she writes a letter falsely accusing Hippolytus of raping her and then kills herself. Theseus finds the letter and banishes his innocent son. Artemis appears to Theseus and reveals the truth, but it is too late as his son has been killed at sea. Join us as we confront the power of erotic love between the sexes. 

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff -- November
This widely acclaimed biography by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, gives us a historically reliable as well as richly contextualized portrait of an epic ruler of the ancient Mediterranean world. Cleopatra, born in 69 B.C.E., was raised to be the queen of Alexandria. She was the perfect partner of Anthony, since both, as Schiff notes, “were congenial, charismatic, quick-tongued…with intelligent curiosity and a remarkable capacity for work and play.” Was her womanhood any drawback to her power? Was her sexual passion a key to greater power or the cause of her downfall and death, at the early age of 40?

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare -- December
One of Shakespeare’s darkest comedies, Measure for Measure was first performed in 1604, and treats marriage as a literal and figurative form of punishment. Isabella, an aspiring nun, faces impossible options. In order to free her brother who is to be executed for immorality, she must sleep with a corrupt deputy. Who wins this battle of the sexes and what roles do the characters assume to wrest power in a decayed world of blatant male authority?

Cyrano de Bergerac (1990 film with Gerard Depardieu) -- January  
Cyrano, a dashing officer, duelist and gifted poet, falls in love with his distant cousin, Roxanne, but is afraid to woo her because of his bulbous nose. Knowing that another officer, Christian, also loves Roxanne, Cyrano offers to write love letters to Roxanne for Christian to deliver as if he is the author. This touching romance poses the question of the role of physical attractiveness in a romantic relationship. The setting is Paris in 1640. The original play by Edmond Rostand was written in 1897.

The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir -- February
Arguably, the most influential ruler England has ever known, Elizabeth I steps onto the throne as a result of the sexual appetites of her father, Henry VIII, and the sexual politics of her mother, Anne Boleyn. However, it is her intelligence, independence and political shrewdness that makes her a queen for the ages. In Weir’s acclaimed biography, we learn how Elizabeth I publically rejects all male suitors, living up to her title of the Virgin Queen, yet privately uses lust and sex as bait to keep the most powerful men in England at her side as equals, but never as masters.

Persuasion by Jane Austen -- March
Austen’s last novel, Persuasion, offers us a study of the complexities of marriage in late nineteenth century England, when rigid class structures are beginning to break open. Anne Elliot is the daughter of Sir Walter, a model of the old landed gentry but almost penniless because of foolish spending. The young naval officers are newly wealthy and enter the middle class. Can love surmount class barriers? And will a not-too-beautiful but clever, kind and practical Anne follow her heart, or will she be persuaded to follow another’s more sensible advice? 

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert -- April
Flaubert’s first novel was met with charges of obscenity when published in 1856.  Today, it is considered his masterpiece, a seminal work of literary realism and one of the most influential novels ever written. Henry James describes it as the “perfect” novel. The plot of a doctor’s wife and her adulterous affairs opens the door into the complexity of the relationships between men and women.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin -- May
James Baldwin’s notorious novella published in 1956 treats the “or not” part of the title of our book series. In a post-war Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American is unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. Giovanni’s Room is a sensitive and moving account of a young man coming to terms with his sexual identity and teaching himself not to be afraid and ashamed of his identity.


May 24
4:00 AM
Thursday May 24, 4:00am
E.g., 06/24/18
E.g., 06/24/18