Thursday, May 17, 2007

Classes begin

On Wednesday morning, May 17, the CAS group met for our first class. Professor Benson described the program's focus on the rhetorics of film and travel/tourism.

We discussed Nathaniel Hawthorne's THE MARBLE FAUN (1860), which appeared just at the beginning of mass middle class travel to Europe from the United States and became a popular guide to Rome for travelers. The novel is a richly textured reflection on sin -- its persistence, its denial, its redemption. The paradox of the "fortunate fall" describes how the experience of sin can contribute to the growth of a richer human capacity to act in the world. At the same time, the experience of travel, as expemplified and described by Hawthorne, can set loose the imagination and the curiosity, liberating artistic genius in ways not easily achieved in the routines of home. This is a Puritan novel of forgiveness.

After our discussion we took a long walk before lunch, stopping at sights mentioned by Hawthorne -- the Trevi Fountain, dominated by the figure of Neptune, and then by way of the Pantheon and the Piazza Rotonda to via Portoghese and Hilda's Tower.

We broke for lunch, then met again at 3:00 in the seminar room, where we saw two films - ROME, OPEN CITY and THE BATTLE OF SAN PIETRO.

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