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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS)




Publications and thoughtful commentary showcase the incredible work that comes out of our small liberal arts classrooms, studios and labs.

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The practice of "salon-going" dates back to the 17th century when many of the intellectual leaders of the day congregated in private homes to discuss the latest thinking and artistic developments. These early salons were also said to be breeding grounds for social movements and revolutions because they attracted political activists promoting social agitation and reform. 

Today's University of Denver salons are just as stimulating, albeit less explosive.

About 20 people meet in a private home with an esteemed DU faculty member to learn and exchange ideas.

Lively discussion fills the air, time flies, and you'll leave feeling energized, enriched and connected in a truly human way.

Wine and light appetizers are provided. All salon events are hosted at private residences. The host's address is shared upon registration.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific: WWII, the Quest for Social Justice, and the American Musical

Facilitator: Jeanne Abrams, professor, Judaic studies
Host: Mr. and Mrs. James and Jenene Stookesberry
Date for salon: Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at 7 p.m.
Date for musical: Thursday, October 30, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $35 (salon only) or $51 (salon plus ticket to South Pacific)

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the descendants of Jewish immigrants, wrote some of the most enduring and beautiful songs in American theater. But their musicals also opened a new door that revealed that Broadway shows could take on serious issues that were related to social and political themes. In 1948, South Pacific opened to rave reviews, and ultimately won a Pulitzer Prize. It was a time when there was very emotional feeling about WWII, and minorities in America were still subject to discrimination. In their path-breaking musical, the team tried not only to entertain, but to educate the public about some of those social barriers. Join us as we unravel the story behind South Pacific and its impact on American society.

Dr. Jeanne Abrams, who is a longtime fan of the American musical, is a professor at the Center for Judaic Studies and the University Libraries at the University of Denver. She is the author of numerous books and articles in the fields of American, Jewish, and medical history. Her latest book is Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health (New York University Press, 2013).

The Pacific Century  America, China, and Competition for Global Leadership

Facilitator: Jing Sun, associate professor, political science
Host: Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Brenda Douglis
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $35

In 1999, Gerald Segal, a British political commentator, wrote a highly influential piece titled “Does China Matter?” for the Foreign Affairs magazine. Segal argued that China’s influence had been vastly exaggerated - but today, few people would still ask the question “does China matter?” Instead, the issue has shifted to “how?” Nowhere is this question more important than in America; as world powers with global responsibilities, how America and China cope with each other will shape the future of not only their own people but the rest of the world. When will China surpass America economically? What is the darker side of the Chinese economic miracle? Can America retain its global leadership by shifting to “soft power” – that is, by being a pioneer in promoting universal values and popular culture? These are just some of the questions we will explore in this salon.

Are We There Yet? Latin America’s Developmental Trajectory in Historical Perspective

Facilitator: Rafael Ioris, assistant professor, history
Host: Mr. Chas Jones and Mrs. Jill Cowperthwaite
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Cost: $35

Latin America has been historically plagued by major economic, political, and social problems that make investing or simply engaging with nations of the continent extremely problematic. At the same time, in the last twenty years, Latin America has experienced one of its most promising experiences insofar as social, economic and political inclusion. Almost all countries are run as effective democracies, much of the region has experienced unparalleled rates of sustained growth, and in most places one sees a growing sense of empowerment of traditionally excluded social groups. At this salon, we will discuss the various approaches to economic, social and political development experienced by Latin American societies in the course of the 20th century as a way to understand the region’s potential and challenges in the near future.

A Food Biography of Denver: Meat, Micro-Brews and Mozzarella

[This Salon is Sold Out]

Facilitators: Carol Helstosky and William Philpott, associate professors, history
Host: Mr. and Mrs. Bill and Joy Mathews
Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.

Cost: $35

The city of Denver has a complex history of innovation in food production and consumption; the city has been the site of culinary exchanges, curious inventions, and trendy eating/drinking styles.  Join Professors Helstosky and Philpott as they explore Denver’s food history, a significant but overlooked aspect of the city’s development and heritage. Sampling local food and drink from the present, we will learn about the food landscapes of the past, including the history of Denver’s food industries, the influence of various immigrant groups on local cuisine and Denver’s contributions to regional and national trends in eating and drinking.  

The Merry Comedies of Shakespeare

Facilitator: Linda Bensel-Meyers, associate professor, English
Host: Hon. Robert Fullerton and Mrs. Beverlee Henry
Date of salon: Thursday, April 16, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Date of opera:  Sunday, April 19, 2015, at 2 p.m.
Cost: $35 (salon only) or $51 (salon plus ticket to The Merry Wives of Windsor)

In preparation for Lamont Opera's spring production—Otto Nicolai's adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor—this Salon will explore Shakespeare's play in the context of his other early romantic comedies. Shakespeare's early period reflects the optimism of his youth, a faith in human nature and a wonder at Divine Providence noticeably lacking in the great tragedies and problem comedies of his middle period. The Merry Wives of Windsor is particularly "merry" in resurrecting Falstaff, the rotund rapscallion and cowardly knight of Henry IV—Parts 1 & 2. (It was rumored that Queen Elizabeth I had been so taken with Falstaff in the history plays that she demanded to see a play about "Falstaff in Love," and Merry Wives was the result.) Ultimately, this salon will explore how The Merry Wives of Windsor celebrates all that is "Elizabethan."

Linda Bensel-Meyers is associate professor and chair of English at DU and works on Shakespeare's poetics of characterization.

Joan Miró at the Denver Art Museum

[This Salon is Sold Out]

Facilitator: Gwen Chanzit, senior lecturer and director of museum studies, School of Art and Art History
Host: Mr. and Mrs. John Eliot
Date of salon: Wednesday, April 22, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Date of exhibit: Friday, April 24, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Cost: $35 for salon; exhibit is free

This salon will be held in conjunction with an exhibition of the late work of Joan Miró at the Denver Art Museum, for which Chanzit is the curator. The exhibition shows the creativity of this well-known modernist, who continued to create wonderful paintings and sculpture even into old age. Get an overview of Miró and his work as a sculptor and a painter at this salon. The second session will be a visit to the exhibition, Instinct and Imagination, at the Denver Art Museum led by the curator.