Morning Groups 2017

Morning Group Seminars

These groups have been the heart of the meeting for many years. The idea is that really reflective and constructive conversation takes time. Seminars meet for four consecutive mornings for approximately three hours each day. To download/view a PDF copy of this list, click HERE

Academic Game Design

Are you interested in learning more about how to engage your students, enliven your teaching, and teach teamwork, strategy, and leadership along with concepts and content? Academic Game Design is for you!

This group is a working morning group. We will incorporate substantial independent time for participants to develop their own projects. Leaders from a variety of academic disciplines will describe use of their own games in the classroom. The group will provide feedback to anyone interested in creating or developing a “Reacting to the Past”-style academic role playing game. Participants will engage in their own scholarship and provide feedback for each other. We will play short games during the week – maybe yours!

All stages of game development are welcome.

Conveners: Julie Phillips(, Amy Berger(, David Stewart(

American Freedom, Individualism, and the Common Good: Experiencing Public History in Boston

We will delve into the American roots of this year’s conference theme of “sacrifice, consumption, and the public good” through tours of Boston’s Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail. Primary and secondary source readings, together with small group discussion, will focus on questions of how Americans deploy our stories about ourselves and what those deployments tell us about the significance of individualism and the common good in contemporary American life. Who is included and excluded? How do ideologies of oppression, inferiority, and superiority shape conceptualizations of individualism and the common good?
Contact Denise Damico (, Bill Strosnider (, or Art Remillard (

Celebrating the Search

Celebrating the Search will continue its joyous convening and we have three spots already spoken for: John Raby, Nancy Corson Carter and Allison Moore. But we also have a very welcome spot for YOU to share some of your experiences in a very welcome atmosphere. Contact: Carol Ochs (

Historical Fiction Morning Group

The Historical Fiction Work Group will discuss four novels this summer. Nancy Cunningham will lead off with the discussion of Yaa Gyasi’s Homecoming, one of the 10 New York Times Best Books of 2016. Tom Stockdale will then moderate a discussion of Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family (preferred edition is John E. Woods’ translation). Mary Papke will lead the discussion of Alice McDermott’s Someone, and we will conclude the group with discussion of Joyce Carol Oates’s The Sacrifice facilitated by David Dornan. Mary Papke is the organizer of the group and can be reached at (

Pop Culture

I confess. I was obsessed with Donald’ Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. So much so that I held viewing parties in hopes that my friends and neighbors would catch the fever. Whether you were a fan of the show or not, it is hard to deny the influence of popular culture in shaping our values and worldviews.

This Morning Group provides an extraordinary opportunity to analyze the content, production, and distribution of all things popular culture.
In Boston, Batman will be on our radar. Kent Tonkin (St. Francis University) will facilitate a session on the ethics of the caped crusader. The Group will consider whether Batman is a hero or a villain. Like Batman, his foes, are also born of tragedy. What makes their choices different?

After discussing big brother Bruce Wayne, the Group will turn their attention to an Orwellian topic. Scott Berger, a long-time Popular Culture Group Member, will lead a discussion on alternative facts, fake news and more.

Finally, in our Group’s newest tradition, we will take a field trip to explore a local cultural institution. Right now, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art is on the agenda. We will see Academy Award Winner Steve McQueen’s (12 Years a Slave) video project, entitled Ashes. This acclaimed work of art demonstrates that video has not lost its punch. We will need to catch our breath when it is over. Contact: Erika Goodman (

Theorizing Culture

Most people agree that we are morally obligated to make some personal sacrifices in order to assure the wellbeing of those around us, but there is considerable disagreement about how much sacrifice a moral life requires. The philosopher Peter Singer has argued forcefully that a moral life requires much more sacrifice than most people are willing to give. Indeed, he argues that citizens who enjoy a middle-class standard of living should be willing to donate a substantial portion of their income to alleviate the suffering found in less developed parts of the world. Not surprisingly, these claims are highly controversial. In this Morning Group, we will read a selection of Singer’s work, and then consider some of the objections raised by his critics. Contact: Eric Bain-Selbo ( or Allen Dunn (


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