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"If you want to build a ship,

don’t drum up people to collect wood

and don’t assign them tasks and work,

but rather teach them to long for

the endless immensity of the sea.”

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Course Descriptions

Ekphrastic Poetry

  • Ekphrastic Poetry:

    • Explanation, description and characteristics of ekphrastic poetry.

  • Ekphrastic poetry–an aspect of the Greek’s study of rhetorical skills.

    • The word ekphrasis, or ecphrasis, comes from the Greek for the written description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical or literary exercise. The Greeks used Ekphrastic poetry as a means to develop and practice rhetorical skills

  • Overview of various forms of poetry:

    • Elements of poetry (such as: meter, rhyme, scheme, verse,stanza)

    • Poetic devices (such as: anaphora, alliteration, enjambment, caesura)

    • Characteristics of poetry (such as: universal themes, from oral tradition to written)

  • Analysis of examples of ekphrastic poems and the art which inspired them,

    • "Ode on a Grecian Urn," by John Keats

    • "Starry Nights" by Anne Sexton

    • "In the Musee' des Beaux Arts" by W.H. Auden

    • "The Shield of Achilles" from Homer's *Iliad*

  • *We will examine the following works of art, as examples to inspire us to write ekphrastic poetry:

    • “The Blue Marble” photograph

    • Raphael’s “The School of Athens"

    • Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

    • Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son.” 

  • A group trip to the NC Museum of Art, and/or Nasher Museum of Art, as one or more of the class sessions

  • This is a particularly enriched course offering, as we will be learning and analyzing both: works of visual art and poetry—and their connection within the context of ekphrastic poetry.

  • What students will learn and take away from this course:

    •  By reflecting on works of art, students will develop skill in imagining the story or the action of a work of art, and then translating that into a narrative, in the form of poetry.

    • In doing this, students will expand, amplify and embellish the meaning and interpretation of (works of) art. 

    • Students will develop rhetorical skill by recitation of ekphrastic poetry.

    • Regarding reflecting on works of art, students will develop, or rediscover their, imagination skills.

    • Students will learn the elements, characteristics and techniques of poetry.

    • Students will spontaneously seek to write ekphrastic poetry in response to any work(s) of art which so captivates their imagination.

Mathematics: Queen of the Sciences

  • Historical (with cultural context) timeline of math developments.

  • Key mathematicians, (examples: Pythagoras, Galileo, Gauss, Faraday, Newton), and their contributions. 

  • Brief description of types of math, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, number theory, statistics, chaos theory,  etc)

  • Overview of different types of numbers: integers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, transcendental numbers, dimensionless numbers, mathematical constants such as:  natural log base e, pi, golden ratio, Euler's constant.

  • Applications of math: many examples here:

  • Description of Euclid's book, The Elements and its place in the historical curriculum. 

  • Platonic solids

  • The Pythagorean Theorem, including algebraic and  geometric (visual) proof.

  • Galileo's work on gravity / falling bodies: a video of dropping a bowling ball and a golf ball from a tower at the same time; and video of Neil Armstrong dropping hammer and feather on the moon, proving Galileo was right and Aristotle was wrong.

  • Interesting facts about math and science such as:  Leonardo DaVinci and Pres James A. Garfield, the 20th POTUS, developed geometric proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem.  Also, the discoverer of the Big Bang theory was a Roman Catholic priest named George Lemaitre.

  • Fibonacci numbers in nature / botany

  • Fractals in nature-- examples:  pine cones, romanesco broccoli, succulents, ice & snow, tree branches, copper crystals, leaf veins, rivers, foam.

  • Consider the philosophical question, and maybe have a formal debate on:  "Is there an inherent mathematical nature to reality? Or is mathematics all in our heads?"  Do we discover mathematics (that's already there?) or do we invent it?

Gender Variance

  • Regarding this topic, the presenter has preeminent personal and professional medical credentials, however this will not be clinical, nor will there be politicization of the topic.  

  • The course will be a historical and cultural overview of Gender Variance--both ancient and contemporary.

  • Famous contemporary gender variant persons: such as Renee Richards, of Second Serve, photo of Christine Jorgenson deplaning from Denmark 1952, Billy Tipton, Alan L. Hart, etc.

  • Books reviewed include:  Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Conundrum by Jan Morris

Literary Memoir

  • What is a memoir?

  • History of memoir:

    • Examples: Augustine's Confessions, Julius Caesar Commentaries on the Gallic Wars. and Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • We will analyze and discuss examples of memoir

  • We will learn techniques for writing memoir, for example: begin in medias res, and “show don’t tell”

  • We will write memoir and share in class

  • Participants will receive a complimentary copy of Hestia's House, a literary memoir.

Classic Films

  • We will see the distinguishing characteristics / features of each genre

  • We will review clips of films and discuss

  • We will examine other critical analysis / reviews of selected film

  • We will view and analyze the following films:

    • Film Noir: Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, The Big Sleep

    • Orson Welles:  The Third Man, Citizen Kane

    • Science Fiction: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Forbidden Planet

    • Westerns:  Stagecoach, The Searchers

Classical Mythology

  • We will look at “Gilgamesh,” which is the oldest myth

  • We will see how mythologies relate to the culture’s religion

Aviation: It's Science, History and Lore

  • How do planes fly?  Intro to the Bernoulli principle 

  • Very long list of “firsts” in flight

  • The poem ‘High Flight’ by John Gillespie Maggee Jr

  • Field trip to RDU Observation Park

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