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UMFK to offers honor seminar on war

August 26, 2005


UMFK Professor Emerita Wendy Kindred will lead the honors seminar on campus this fall.

The University of Maine of Maine at Fort Kent will offer an honors seminar entitled "God's Best Enemies: Crusades and Jihads" during the upcoming fall semester.

The course, taught by Wendy Kindred, UMFK Professor Emerita, is the first in a new series of seminars that will explore the pressing issue of war as the force that makes and breaks cultures and civilizations.

The fifteen-week session will run from September 8 through mid-December. The class will meet Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:20 p.m. at the Haenssler Honors Center.

Specifically, participants will examine the theme of Crusades and the Jihads as a peculiar form of war that has found a new and somewhat surprising lease on life in the age of globalization and the War on Terror.

Included in the discussion will be the centuries-long dynamic between Christianized Europe and the Islamic Middle East. Students will explore how each side has pursued its own understanding of God's will and its own political advantage, and how each side has perceived the other as an enemy of God.

Professor Wendy Kindred has a long interest in the honors program, having served for several years as its director. She also taught many prior honors seminars, including one on Islam that coincided with the first Iraq war in 1991, and has team-taught with professors Rameen Aryana and Roland Burns.

As in 1991, this seminar will reflect on current events in the Middle East.

The course will begin with a reading from James Reston, Jr.'s wonderful book, Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.

The content of the book is based on a study of the bloody Third Crusade, in which two towering leaders of different beliefs and traditions faced off against each other. The legends that grew around each of them still continue to affect perceptions today.

The historical Richard the Lionheart, King of England, for instance, appears to contemporary audiences in the play "The Lion in Winter," the latest film version of which stars Glen Close and Patrick Stewart and is now available on video in Fort Kent.

Kindred will use this film and other fictionalized accounts of both Richard the Lionheart and Saladdin. Participants will also examine the relationship between fact and fiction in history, or, in other words, how history becomes story.

As with honors seminars that professor Kindred has taught in the past, this seminar will stress writing throughout the semester as a tool for assimilating information and ideas that students encounter in their reading and discussion. Their practice of writing throughout the semester will lead, finally, to a lengthy, well-developed and informative essay due at the end of the course.

The honors seminar is a 3 credit hour course.

For more information contact UMFK Honors Program Director Vladmir Suchan at (207) 834-7892, or to register call the UMFK registrar's office at 207-834-7520.