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“Crucible” course faces weak interest

Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 02:08

The new one-quarter-credit humanities course “The Crucible” is in danger of cancellation due to low enrollment.

Published in 1952, “The Crucible” reports on the Salem witch trials that took place in the British colony Providence of Massachusetts Bay throughout 1692 and 1693. The play was first performed in 1953 at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway, marking the beginning of the story as a classic in American culture.

The humanities course, which plans to meet once a week, will be devoted to exploring “The Crucible” in as many contexts as possible. Multiple faculty members in the English and history departments will conduct the course, including Ellen Bayer, Harry Brown, David Gellman, Ronald Dye, Keith Nightenhelser and Barbara Whitehead. Professors will all teach, sit in and engage with the students in the class.

But the course carries only two enrolled students and will likely be cancelled if interest does not spark soon.

History Professor David Gellman is still hopeful that this class will be able to get off the ground despite the low enrollment.

“The idea is to ground this important play and DePauw's performance of it in as many historical and cultural contexts as possible,” Gellman said. “The class provides students with an opportunity to engage with a variety of professors in multiple disciplines — with students connecting the dots and delving deeper as their interests dictate.”

As a discussion based class, students will explore the play’s historical setting. They will ask questions as to how the historical events fit or do not fit with witchcraft accusations in Europe and elsewhere, how American writers remember these events and portray them and how the meaning of the play has changed into its current form.

This semester there are many “Crucible” themed events that all students will have the option to going to and participating in. DePauw’s intellectual interaction is focusing in on Crucible conversations that allow students the opportunity to share their ideas throughout campus and not just in the classroom.

Crucible conversations will be present in all areas of DePauw’s campus from inside the classroom to theater productions and film viewings to discussion panels and more.

English Professor Ronald Dye says the class offers students a chance to come together once a week to look at something of special interest.

“It's a great opportunity to experience a thorough immersion in a seemingly narrow topic,” Dye said. “Something like one might experience in a small, specialized topics seminar in grad school.”

The class still remains open and students can enroll online through e-services and are welcome to contact the professors teaching the class if seeking an interest. 

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