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UW Lecture Series Returns to Sheridan Sept. 23

September 13, 2017
photos of Susan Aronstein, Paul Flesher and Paul Young

The University of Wyoming’s popular one-day free public lecture series, featuring diverse topics from UW professors and Sheridan College’s president, will return to Sheridan Saturday, Sept. 23.

Saturday U -- the half day of college lectures and discussion -- will be at Sheridan College’s Whitney Academic Center. The program begins with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m., followed by welcoming remarks at 8:50 a.m. The guest lectures begin at 9 a.m.

Participants may attend one, two or all three lectures. A free lunch and question-and-answer session will follow the program at 12:30 p.m.

“During the fall and spring terms, Saturday University visits locations throughout Wyoming, discussing today’s most captivating topics,” says Saturday U Coordinator Paul Flesher, a UW religious studies professor.

In its ninth year, Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects popular UW and Wyoming community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered nine times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan, and once in Rock Springs, Pinedale and Cody -- Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and Wyoming Humanities. The program is presented locally by UW, Wyoming Humanities and Sheridan College.

“Enjoy three intriguing lectures delivered by professors from the University of Wyoming and Wyoming’s community colleges,” Flesher says. “Complimentary lunch is provided, giving participants an opportunity to engage with the speakers during a roundtable discussion following the three lectures.”

Listed below are program topic descriptions and professors lecturing:

-- 9 a.m., “Marketing the Wonderful Wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum and Ozmania,” Susan Aronstein, English professor.

“Sold-out performances! Standing room only! Box office records broken! Touring companies bringing shows to eager fans across the country. No, we’re not describing ‘Wicked,’ the hit musical still on Broadway after 14 years, nor Judy Garland’s filmed trip down the yellow brick road in Technicolor ruby slippers,” Aronstein says, describing her lecture. “No, Ozmania first swept the country in 1903. The show was ‘The Wizard of Oz’ adapted from L. Frank Baum’s bestselling children’s book, ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.’”

Her talk explores the original Oz craze and how the marketing wizard L. Frank Baum put Oz into America’s imagination, building his book into sequels, spin-offs and comics, and also as a traveling extravaganza and silent films.

-- 10:15 a.m., “Jesus Reading Scripture at Nazareth: The Archaeology of Worship in First-Century Synagogues,” Paul Flesher, religious studies professor.

“In the study of ancient Judaism, our portrayal of worship largely derives from textual evidence, from the Bible to the Dead Sea scrolls and rabbinic literature, and everything in between,” Flesher says. “Missing from the picture has been the archaeology of synagogues where such worship took place.”

His lecture takes what is known about synagogue worship in the first century CE (Common Era) and portrays it in the archaeological remains of actual first-century synagogues. This move highlights the dynamics of worship and social interaction different synagogue plans encourage, and casts different interpretative perspectives on the Gospel of Luke’s story of Jesus reading Scripture in the Nazareth synagogue.

-- 11:30 a.m., “Art and Religion in the Philosophy of Paul Weiss,” Paul Young, Sheridan College president.

“Both art and religion make claims to reach something which is beyond the world of ordinary experience or that can be reduced to scientific, cultural, political or other explanations. How is this possible?” Young asks.

Young’s lecture will explore the thought of 20th century philosopher Paul Weiss on this problem and Weiss’ solution, which combines the robustness of classical metaphysics with a uniquely American pragmatic approach.

For more information about the program, call Flesher at (307) 766-2616 or email

For more information about Saturday U, visit the website at

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