Ethical Struggles in Catastrophic Times: Quakers’ Responses to the Holocaust (ICPR, PEAC, RELG H116)
In the 1930s and 1940s, Quakers engaged in a number of remarkable—and controversial—activities that were intended to provide assistance to people who were being persecuted by the Nazis. Those actions were criticized by some US citizens (who thought that Quakers were giving unwitting aid to the Nazis) and also derided by Nazis such as Joseph Goebbels (who thought that Quakers were demonstrating a complete lack of awareness about how the world really works.) Nevertheless, Quakers’ actions did end up saving some lives. Students in this course will examine what Quakers accomplished—and failed to accomplish—in the 1930s and 1940s. The course is not designed as a venue in which to decide, once and for all, which of the Quakers’ actions were wise and which were foolish. The course is meant, rather, to offer students an opportunity to reflect on the ethical questions with which Quakers wrestled and an invitation to compare those questions with on the ones they face themselves. Special attention will be paid the connections between Quakers’ responses to the Holocaust and Quakers’ religious beliefs and practices.
Good Guys and Gals?: Quaker Imagery in Fiction (WRPRH156)
What have been the literary uses of Quaker ideas and images in fiction? How have these changed over time? Here on the Haverford campus, with its Quaker heritage and traditions, is housed perhaps the largest collection of Quaker novels anywhere in the world, fiction by or about Quakers, often populated with characters whose Quakerliness is designed to evoke a certain mood, message, or subtext. For some authors, Quakers became stand-ins for virtue. For others, the Quaker image is of the troublemaker, the nay-sayer, the haughty, unbending zealot. In this course we will read excerpts from an array of Quaker fiction. Then, through class discussions, written essays, and through considering each others writing, students will explore how commentators have interpreted the meaning of "Quakerness" in literature."
Reinventing Quakerism: Rufus Jones and the Rise of Liberal Quakerism (WRPR 186)
Quakerism isn’t stable. It varies from generation to generation. The form of Quakerism that is mostly closely associated with Haverford College today is, for example, quite different from the sort of Quakerism that was connected to the college in 1950s. That variety was Quakerism was, in turn, quite distinct from the one that was connected to Haverford a century earlier. There is a real sense in which Quakerism was reinvented in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.Students in the course will examine some of the changes that Quakerism underwent between the 1850s and the 1950s by examining the life and thought of Rufus Jones (1863-1948). Jones grew up in rural Maine, graduated from Haverford College in 1885 and taught at Haverford for most of his career. Jones was one of the founders of an organization—the American Friends Service Committee—that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. He was a prolific author whose books won him international fame. Jones’s assertion that Quakerism is at heart a “mystical” faith was sagacious, provocative, and extremely influential.