Humanity Challenged in Peace and War

Wednesdays, October 16 to December 4, 2019 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Fairfield Senior’s Centre, 80 Lothian Avenue, Etobicoke

Coordinator and Presenter: Robert Douglas

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Course Overview.   This course will provide an overview since 1914 when our humanity has been tested by war, state repression and the politics of uncertainty, and how on occasion we have reasserted it. Each week several film clips will be incorporated into the presentation to illustrate and highlight the relevant issues.

October 16. A Thematic Overview. How people lose their humanity and can assert or reclaim it. Starting with a brief clip from Orwell’s 1984 and as an application from real life, we will examine a clip on a psychological experiment that divided students into prisoners and guards, and from The Experimenter on how individuals will follow orders. We will also show clips of people who assert their humanity after it has been tested.

Oct. 23: The Seduction and Consequences of the Great War. The siren of nationalism before, during and after the Great War produced toxic consequences but also moments of humanity illustrated by clips from Oh What a Lovely War, Testament of Youth and Journey’s End.

Oct. 30: The Seduction of and Responses to Fascism. An examination of the allure of fascism, including from individuals from non-fascist countries, how some individuals during that time and more recently refused to accept responsibility but how others are re-examining their past. Clips include Cabaret, The Nazis: A Warning from History, the television series, Un Village François and Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next.

Nov. 6: The effort to maintain one’s humanity in the Vietnam War. An examination of Ken Burn’s, powerful epic, The Vietnam War, explores how the participants’ humanity is challenged and reclaimed. We will focus primarily on one individual who offers a compelling story.

Nov. 13: The Dream of Racial, Political and Economic Equality in South Africa: From Apartheid to the Present. An exploration of politics, racial injustice and economic inequality in South Africa under apartheid and an assessment as to whether the dream embodied by Nelson Mandela has been deferred by recent politics. Clips from A World Apart and Mandela illustrate the struggle and explore the personal costs of activism while a clip about a local community reveals positive developments.

Nov. 20 The Struggle to Overcome Racism in America. A historic and contemporary exploration of how racism has disfigured America despite the civil rights movement and the election of Barack Obama. We will begin with a clip from Get Out and juxtapose it against an historical medical experiment that African-Americans endured. We will explore clips from the documentary on James Baldwin, I am not your Negro, a documentary about Loving that challenged the ban on interracial marriage, as well as the backlash faced by Barack Obama, and by African Americans in the post-Obama era.

Nov. 27:  The Gender Revolution from Anita Hill to the #Me-too movement. An investigation of the changes that have challenged male prerogatives, including the double standards experienced by women who enter the public domain and will illustrate them with images and clips from the silencing of Elizabeth Warren in the Senate to excerpts from Ford-Kavanaugh hearing.

Dec.4: The different faces of populism in the Age of Trump. The rise of Trump and global populism, its manifestation in America, the U.K. since Brexit, and in Europe, as well as efforts to offer inclusive alternatives. Clips will be shown to illustrate the darker side of populism and more positive trends.

Researcher/Committee Contact and Chair: Pamela Guy.