Mrs. Van Zant's Humanities Series Video and Audio

Mayo High School, Rochester, Minnesota

Mrs. Van Zant embraced visual media I suspect because she was a savvy educator who realized that the visual arts would speak to her young students in a way that reading alone possibly couldn't. Videos were never a substitute for reading, but they were shown to augment the themes and amplify the emotions under discussion. Included in the top section is the classroom media from 1980-1983. I don't know to what extent (if any) she varied her curriculum from year to year. If you were shown something else, I'd love to hear from you. Not surprisingly, whenever she could, she drew heavily upon the BBC to provide the theatrical interpretation!

Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard)
1956
The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside. (This was the only film shown not directly tied to the curriculum. Van Zant showed it for very personal reasons and explained that only the classes to see it were ones she felt could handle the subject matter.)
Oedipus the King (HUMANITIES I, ANCIENT ATHENS)
1968
Cast: Christopher Plummer, Orson Welles, Lilli Palmer
Based on the myth of Oedipus, whose cursed fate was to marry his mother and kill his father, the play explores themes of destiny, free will, and literal and metaphoric vision and blindness.
A Man For All Seasons (HUMANITIES II, MAN AND GOD)
1966
Cast: Paul Scofield, Orson Welles, Robert Shaw
The struggle between Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII hinges on Henry's determination to break with Rome so he can divorce his current wife and wed again, and good Catholic More's inability to go along with such heresy.
Doctor Faustus (HUMANITIES II, MAN AND GOD)
1967
Cast: Richard Burton, Andreas Teuber, Elizabeth Taylor
Faustus is a scholar whose insatiable appetite for knowledge and power leads him to conjure Mephistopheles out of Hell. He bargains away his soul to Lucifer in exchange for living twenty-four years of pleasure.
Crime and Punishment (HUMANITIES II, MEASURE OF MODERN MAN)
1979
Cast: John Hurt, Timothy West, Sian Phillips
Crime and Punishment follows the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in Saint Petersburg who plans to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker.
Anna Karenina (HUMANITIES III, BEYOND ENLIGHTENMENT)
1977
Cast: Nicola Pagett, Stuart Wilson, Eric Porter
The story centers on an extramarital affair between Anna and dashing cavalry officer Count Vronsky that scandalizes the social circles of Saint Petersburg and forces the young lovers to flee to Italy.
The Brothers Karamazov (HUMANITIES III, BEYOND ENLIGHTENMENT)
1958
Cast: Yul Brynner, Claire Bloom, Lee J. Cobb
The Brothers Karamazov is a novel with a simple plot about a murder and a complex discussion of faith, doubt, and morality.
Madame Bovary (HUMANITIES III, BEYOND ENLIGHTENMENT)
1975
Cast: Francesca Annis, Tom Conti, Denis Lill
Grasping for idealized intimacy, Emma Bovary begins to act out her romantic fantasies and embarks on an ultimately disastrous love affair with Rodolphe, a local landowner.
The Garden of Earthly Delights (HUMANITIES II, MAN AND GOD)
Hieronymus Bosch
The Garden of Earthly Delights is Bosch's most complex and enigmatic creation. The overall theme of the triptych is the fate of humanity.
The Temptation of St. Anthony (HUMANITIES III, BEYOND ENLIGHTENMENT)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Legends of Anthony Abbot relate how the pious early Christian, forsaking society, journeyed into the wilderness to seek God. Anthony appears twice in this painting; in his foreground retreat, he resists the Devil's manifold temptations. After failing to yield to the evil lures, he is shown again being physically tortured while carried aloft by demons. Yet, the saint was saved by the purity of his soul.

Other Media

I am adding additional audio and video versions of Claire's assigned works class as I discover them. Obviously, some of these were created after her death and I am left to my own best judgement as to whether or not she would have approved. I'm fairly confident she would have found at least aspects in them all to applaud. If you were shown something else, please contact me; I will be more than happy to add it.

1984 (HUMANITIES I, NEW YORK AND CONTEMPORARY AMERICA)
1984
Cast: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton
Serving silently the grim, autocratic hyper-state of Oceania, lowly bureaucrat Winston Smith summons the courage to write down his unspoken desires in his secret diary. Sooner or later, he will have to pay for his crimes against the dictatorial state. What makes a good citizen?
Paradise Lost (HUMANITIES II, MAN AND GOD)
2018
Cast: Ian McKellen, Simon Russell Beale, Frances Barber
BBC Radio 4 Drama |  Satan and his fellow rebel angels free themselves from a lake of fire in Hell. They construct pandemonium, and once there, debate whether they should begin another war with God.

Paradise Lost: Part One

Paradise Lost: Part Two

From Atheism to Christianity: The Story of C.S. Lewis (HUMANITIES II, MAN AND GOD)
Featuring: Dr. Joel Heck
This lecture by Dr. Joel Heck focuses on the spiritual journey of C.S. Lewis and was given at the Wade Center on June 27, 2017. Although raised in a Christian family, C.S. Lewis adopted atheism at the age of fourteen. Heck provides details into Lewis's fifteen-year journey between 1916 and his conversion to Christianity in 1931--explaining why Lewis became an atheist, including many factors relevant to atheists today.

Dr. Joel D. Heck teaches courses in Old Testament and the life and writings of C.S. Lewis at Concordia University Texas, and is the author or editor of fourteen books, including "From Atheism to Christianity: The Story of C.S. Lewis" published in 2017 by Concordia Publishing House.
The Bucket Rider (HUMANITIES II, MEASURE OF MODERN MAN)
Franz Kafka
"The Bucket Rider" ("Der Kubelreiter") is a short story by Franz Kafka, written in 1917. The story, the bulk of which is dialogue, has been interpreted as a discourse on the inevitable conflict between people due to the innate differences between them. Another interpretation is that the conflict between the bucket-rider and the coal-dealer is due to language being both a barrier and a bridge among people.
No Exit (HUMANITIES II, MEASURE OF MODERN MAN)
Jean-Paul Sartre
Cast: Glenda Jackson (Inez); Anna Massey (Estelle); Donald Pleasance (Garcin); Thomas Kempinski (Valet)
A 1968 BBC audio adaptation the 1944 existentialist French play. The play begins in the afterlife. Three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. This is the source of Sartre's famous phrase "Hell is other people", a reference to Sartre's idea about being forced to see oneself as an object from another's consciousness.

No Exit

The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of CS Lewis (HUMANITIES II, MAN AND GOD)
2021
Cast: Max McClean, Nicholas Ralph, Eddie Ray Martin
Claire Van Zant was personally devout but extremely accepting of views across the spectrum, from faith to skepticism. She loved speaking to those who were able to articulate their assertions based on well-reasoned arguments and introspection. Nothing seemed to irritate her more than entrenched dogma or unthinking atheism. I include the discussion guide to this film even though it was produced years after her death. Van Zant studied under Lewis and assigned his written work regularly. I have no idea if she would have approved of the specific storytelling of the film but I expect she would have celebrated that it was made.
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