The University of Chicago News Office
September 30, 1996 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Basic Program Celebrates 50 Years of Great Books

Fifty years ago, the University of Chicago’s Basic Program spawned a Great Books craze that swept the country. Today there is a resurgence, and the University is drawing students from all over the area to read, think, write and talk about the great ideas of western civilization.

“The University of Chicago was the first home of Great Books for adults,” says Adam Rose, Staff Chair of the Basic Program at the University of Chicago. “And now, the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is the premier institution in the country for adults to think about the classics. Our students include waitresses, woodworkers, bankers, doctors, housewives and poets.”

Many students come from across Chicago. Some come even farther–George Stamis, a medical doctor from Appleton, Wis., drives 300 miles each way to attend the Basic Program because “it’s a cornerstone of my life.” Jim Sullivan drives from Bridgewater, Mich.

And the students are not whom you might expect.

One of the more enthusiastic students is octogenarian Rena “Shuvi" Shupakevich, who fled Nazi Germany alone, and on foot. She traveled east through Siberia to Kobe, Japan, giving birth to her only daughter along the way. For the past five years she has studied in the Basic Program. Why? “My studies here are breath to me,” she says simply.

Bill O’Donnell, a photographer, was inspired by his Basic Program studies to create a photography series called “Looking Into the Canon,” illustrating each of the books read.

All have joined together to discuss the Great Books with a depth of experience the typical college student doesn’t yet have.

Lori Mitchell, a Basic Program student, says, “Since starting the Basic Program three years ago, I now have a better sense of what virtue is, about what the goals of life should be. People are in this class because they want to be there, because they want to talk about the big ideas, not because they want an M.B.A. I mean, I have one of those, and it didn’t enrich my life the way this has.” For more information about enrolling in the Basic Program, call (773) 702-1722. For a listing of Basic Program 50th-anniversary events in the fall, see reverse.

50th Anniversary Fall Events
Basic Program at the University of Chicago
Works of the Mind Lecture Series

Saturday, Oct. 26 Mandel Hall, 5706 University Ave.

2:45 p.m.Wayne Booth, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, will give a lecture titled “The Aims of Education, come the Millennium” Reception to follow. Free and open to the public. Sunday, Nov. 17 Judd Hall Auditorium, 5835 S. Kimbark Ave.

2 p.m.Karl J. Weintraub, the Thomas E. Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, will present the lecture “On Rousseau’s Confessions.” Sunday, Dec. 1 Judd Hall Auditorium, 5835 S. Kimbark Ave.

2 p.m.Raymond Ciacci, Basic Program Staff Instructor, will present the lecture “Lucretius in On the Nature of Things: Prophet or Madman? First Friday Lecture Series

Lectures are offered on the first Friday of every month in the second-floor auditorium of the Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. Lectures begin at 12:15 p.m. and last about an hour. Friday, Oct. 4 “Moses in Egypt,” given by George Anastaplo, Basic Program Staff Instructor Friday, Nov. 1 “Alcibiades as Rendered in Plato, Thucydides and Plutarch,”
given by Zoë Eisenman, Basic Program Staff Instructor Friday, Dec. 6 “Aristotle Contemplating Homer: The Poetics as a Guide for Understanding the Iliad and the Odyssey,”given by Jack Melsheimer, Basic Program Staff Instructor Basic Program Fall Weekend
Nov. 1-3 Plato’s Symposium
The Basic Program will examine Plato’s thrilling and thought-provoking Symposium,probing the Eros that may lead to human beloveds, children, works of art and statecraft and the desire for wisdom. Open Houses

An opportunity to meet staff members and students, ask questions, participate in a sample discussion and enjoy light refreshment. Open houses are free but registration is required. A.M. Classes Open House 10 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 11
P.M. Classes Open House 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 11
Saturday Classes Open House 9:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 14
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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