IMG_0744On Sunday August 24th, as part of the orientation week, many new students in the Honors Program attended an event which, in the best tradition of the Program, launched the academic year with a discussion of a topic of general intellectual  interest. This year, through the use of several clips from both a recent (2010), feature-length German film and news programs, the subject of violence against children and adolescents in society was presented.  These clips spoke to the issues of physical violence against children in war, immigration policies in the US and Europe, and repressive pedagogy including corporal punishment.  Profs. Bernstein, Cwilich, Geyh and White and Dr. Gellens served as facilitators for small groups of students which discussed some of these as well as other related issues, and then a generalized conversation ensued in which the different groups reported to the whole room, through a very lively exchange of ideas.

One film clip came from “The White Ribbon”, (which will be shown in its entirety later in the semester) by Michael Haneke, a prominent German filmmaker who was awarded the Palme D’Or at Cannes for this movie and two years later, in 2012, won the Oscar for the best foreign film, “L’Amour”. “The White Ribbon” focuses on the lives of children in a repressive Lutheran German village in the year 1913, ends with the outbreak of WWI in August, 1914 and tries to establish links between the effects of repressive education and the future rise of the Nazi regime two decades later. Regarding WWI and the current centenary commemorations going on in many countries around the world, we will be exploring the significance of the conflict throughout the semester by means of several historical presentations by experts, the projection of classic films on the subject,  and its representation in the visual arts.


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