Master of Liberal Arts & Science

Saturday University for Fall 2014

Starting October 25th:

Unusual Suspects: Characters Who Made History

In collaboration with Vanderbilt’s Department of History.

Saturday University – for adult learners eager to rediscover the joy of education for its own sake, without entrance exams, homework assignments, or final papers – was instituted to present academic outreach to our community. Saturday University is designed to fill the niche between the single lecture and a full degree program. A lecture series held on Saturday mornings is a non-degree program for those in the community who want to sharpen their own engagement in lifelong learning.

Saturday University has been a success from its inception, allowing us to showcase Vanderbilt faculty, research centers and programs.  Whether it has been our Life’s Big Questions: and Philosophy’s Answers with Professors Lachs, Oliver, Aikin, and Hodges; De-Coding the 2012 Election sessions with Professors Geer and Oppenheimer; the Immigration lecture series with Professors Donato, Gerstle, Barsky and Pierre; or the fall 2011 sessions with Billy Collins, Saturday University has been a vital activity for Nashville’s lifelong learners.  Past sessions have highlighted the Center for Medicine, Health & Society; the Center for Study of Democratic Institutions; the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy & Environment; MFA/Creative Writing Program; and History of Art faculty and the Vanderbilt Art Collection. In addition to its community outreach, Saturday University has been welcomed by MLAS students and alumni, as another way for them to stay connected with Vanderbilt.

» Saturday University 2014 Fall registration form


We are also pleased to announce our partnership with:

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Vanderbilt University is an organization that strives to provide community members with stimulating intellectual and cultural pursuits. OLLI offers non-credit courses which allow students to benefit from invigorating lectures and discussions in an informal, supportive and relaxed environment. It is an organization that provides fifty and over adults with educational programs, stimulating tours, trips and cultural activities and events.  OLLI is a cohesive group that projects a true sense of community and always welcomes new members.

Professors Landers, Wcislo, Schwartz, and Harrington will each lecture. This group comprises over 100 years of service to Vanderbilt University, and that is in addition to their highly regarded teaching and research. Once again, we are proud to have such an impressive team of professors in Saturday University. 


October 25

Professor Jane Landers, “From Mandinga Slave to Military Leader and Founder of a Free Black Town: The Unusual Life of Francisco Menéndez

Professor Landers will trace the Atlantic trails of a Mandinga man known as Francisco Menéndez. He enters the scene in a 1738 petition to the Spanish governor of Florida. Menéndez called on the governor to honor Spain’s religious sanctuary policy, first established in 1693, and to free all of the Africans who had come to Florida, only to find themselves unjustly re-enslaved. Petitioning in support of Menéndez was Chief Jospe, a leader of the Yamasee War with whom Menéndez had fought for several bloody years. After two decades of slavery among the Spaniards, Menéndez became the leader of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first free black town in what is today the United States. Thanks to rich archival documentation available to Professor Landers in her research, she will present some fascinating individuals and their engagement in the turbulent geopolitics of their day. And as Menéndez first proved, the actions of a few individuals can have unintended and, certainly unforeseen, consequences.


November 1

Professor Frank Wcislo, “Fantasies, Railroads, and Imperial Dreams.  A Russian Man in the Victorian Age”

Sergei Witte, 1849-1915, was one of the greatest statesmen of the Russian Empire’s last century.  He was the builder of the Trans-Siberian Railway and creator of the first Russian parliament, the State Duma.  As did many powerful men of his era, he wrote voluminous memoirs to justify himself to posterity.   His memories of a life lived, however, were far more revealing of the Victorian and imperial world he inhabited before war and revolution destroyed it.   This lecture will explore that story, as told in Francis Wcislo, Tales of Imperial Russia (Oxford University Press, 2011).


November 8

Professor Tom Schwartz, Celebrity Diplomat: The Life and Times of Henry Kissinger.”  

Henry Kissinger was the most famous American diplomat of the 20th century, playing a crucial role during a transitional period in the Cold War.  Along with President Richard Nixon, he helped change American policies toward the Soviet Union and China, as well as negotiating the end of the Vietnam War.  His involvement in the Middle East shaped the American position there for decades to come. He also became a media celebrity, courting the attention of television and print journalism to accentuate his power and influence.   This talk will explore Kissinger’s personal background, the controversies during his time in power, and his enduring legacy in American history.


November 15

Professor Joel Harrington, “The Modern Invention of the Medieval Executioner.”

We all know the hooded, ominous figure of the medieval hangman, but in fact that image owes much more to nineteenth-century imaginations than to any historical reality.  After a brief description of a real sixteenth-century executioner, based on his personal journal, this lecture will explore the legal, artistic, and literary origins of one of the modern age's most recognizable stereotypes.  This lecture will explore this topic as told in part in Joel F. Harrington, The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Sixteenth Century (Picador, 2014).


Lectures will be held on Saturdays. Each session will include lecture, plus Q&A, from 9:30 until 11:30. The total fee is $75.  We anticipate a huge demand for these sessions.  Space is limited for this Saturday University, so please send in your registration soon.

All lectures will be held in Cohen Memorial Hall 203, situated on the eastern end of campus.  Refreshments will be served before each lecture. Ample parking is available on the 21st South side of Cohen, and Cohen is easily accessible.

Following each session, participants can visit the Fine Arts Gallery.  Our current exhibition is titled, “I am Unbeatable: Documenting and Celebrating Stories of Empowerment.” 


For more information, contact Martin Rapisarda,
associate dean for Arts & Science, at 615.343.3140