discussion programs

Isabella’s Sisters

In these fascinating memoirs and biographies, women create worlds, both real and fictional. Each book is a detailed portrait of a strong, influential woman, a woman capable of changing the course of history, art, culture, or politics.

Individual Rights and Community in America

Under the banner of “I’ve got my rights” Americans have forged a government and established a way of life unparalleled in history. The “American Way” celebrates the supremacy of individual rights over the idea of community. But does this promote selfishness and a breakdown of society? Can individual choice and freedom coexist with duty and loyalty to others?

Family: The Way We Were, The Way We Are

For every human being, family life encompasses enduring seasons that form a cycle: growing up, breaking away or breaking down, making choices, looking back, surviving. Such categories may have little to do with age, economic status, or geographical location. But their commonality in American life, as reflected in these books, will challenge readers to define or redefine the meaning of “family” today and, in so doing, to discover something of themselves.

End of the World or World Without End

The year 2000 A.D. was entered with a mixture of fear and hope. For five centuries, people in Europe and then the Americas looked to this year as an ultimatum or culmination. Texts ranging from science fiction to fantasy and poetry explored such questions as this: “Have we exhausted the resources of humanity and the planet, or have we been preparing the ground for a compatible, sustainable world?”

The End of Life

The works in this series offer wide-ranging explorations of death and dying and the challenges of end of life care. They raise many important questions: What wishes regarding dying must we as a society struggle to better hear? How can these wishes be satisfied with the help of existing health and social resources? What new resources must we develop in response to these wishes?

Destruction or Redemption

Such a transcendent force as romantic love can have great power to destroy or redeem, and this ambiguity is a central theme in these five novels. Perhaps the most basic aspect of this kind of love is its potential to transform us in some way, however briefly.

Demons, Golems, and Dybbuks

These five tales, which are as much about bodies—the enchanting, the ailing, the monstrous—as about spirits, leave the reader wondering: Which is stranger, the supernatural world or our own?

Contemporary Japanese Literature

Modern Japan fascinates Westerners. Its industrial and technological advances challenge us. Its ancient traditions and venerable culture intrigue us. We wonder how a people living in an area the size of Montana could have survived the devastation of World War II to become one of the most productive nations on Earth. The engimas of the Japanese spirit can be explained through the nation’s literature. Gifted writers reveal the nature of modern Japan.

Between Two Worlds

Writers from Egypt, Brazil, Poland and the United States take up the central theme of Exodus, exploring questions of home and away and what it means to belong.

Being Ethnic, Becoming American

We all know the image of melting-pot America—the land of the free and home of the brave that welcomes persons of all heritages to hitch their wagons to the stars and stripes. We all are part of it. The very food we eat, clothes we wear, homes and neighborhoods we live in, family life and traditions all mark as as Americans—and as something else. For in addition to being Americans, we also are very separate groups of peoples, made different by our ethnic heritages by what we or our families were before.

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