Preparations are well underway for my seminar at the Newberry Library, which begins June 2. Registrations are coming in and the list of things I want to get done before walking into the second-floor classroom is gradually getting smaller. Keyword: gradually (by this stage in life I've learned there's never enough time to do all the things I'd like to do in the way I'd like to do them.) Anyway, I'm excited about this opportunity to share with others interested in the rich history of the extraterrestrial life debate and I can't wait to get it rolling. It's going to be a fun nine weeks.
I've decided to post here some additional material relevant to the seminar each week for the duration of the class. This will in part address the challenge of not having enough time on Tuesday evenings to cover the wide range of topics that could be mentioned. Yes, there's that much material. Hardly surprising when we stop to remember that human beings have written about the idea of life elsewhere in cosmos for more than two millennia.
Several weeks ago I prepared a postcard to help publicize the class. This was the front side:
The reverese says "If so, you're in very good company . . ." followed by the seminar title: Are We Alone?: Life beyond Earth in Western Religion, Science, and Popular Culture from Aristotle to H.G. Wells, together with all the date, time, place information -- and how to register.
The illustration, which is in the public domain, is part of an anonymous wood engraving often called the Flammarion Woodcut because it first appeared in a volume by Camille Flammarion (1842-1925), a French astronomer who also wrote books for a general audience. The work in which it appears, L'atmosphere: meteorolgie populaire ("The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology"), was published in Paris in 1888, and to this day no one knows who did the illustration, or when, or what it means. Some think the engraving depicts a medieval pilgrim looking past the visible sky at the hidden structure of the universe, which is probably as good an explanation as any.
The important thing is that people seem to like it. I'll be interested to learn if any of the cards left in area bookstores and coffee houses by my niece, Caroline, or me result in a registration. After all, not everyone hears the library's promotions for seminars on WBEZ or receives a brochure in the mail.
Meanwhile, I'm preparing a new set of pages here on CB that will give details on the weekly seminar topics, assigned readings, and more (see Sidebar). These should be up soon! Please check back and let me know what you think.
As always, comments are greatly appreciated!
Next stop: tbd
Banner bus photo credit: Dorothy Delina Porter.