Alumnae College 1

On the Friday of the Smith reunion my mom, Arlene, and I all went to Alumnae College classes. Most of those are intended to showcase the best teachers the college has and the most interesting courses they teach. As with all of reunion, it’s not hard to see that the college’s underlying goal is to remind the attendees of how wonderful the college is and how much it needs and deserves their donations. Of course it does, too.

At any rate, the first one I went to was “Sherlock Holmes and the Scientific Method.” I hadn’t done the recommended reading for it, the story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” but it didn’t matter. The course is a combination literature, creative writing, and introductory geology course. During the school year it has two hour-and-a-half meetings a week. On Tuesdays it concentrates on reading, discussing, and writing your own Sherlock Holmes stories. On Thursdays it goes on field trips to study geology. The final paper is the student’s own Sherlock Holmes story which must involve geology in some non-trivial way. For the last part of our class, one of the past year’s students read her story about a mysterious death on the island of Martinique that was caused not by voodoo but by a release of carbon dioxide prior to a big volcanic eruption.

The professor who teaches the class was teaching a different Alumnae College session in the afternoon, about the geology of vineyards. He consults with winemakers about locating plantings based on soil and so on. I’m told that session, which includes wine tasting, is a very popular one.

I’m catching up on the reading for the class now, from a big The Annotated Sherlock Holmes volume. You know what Sherlock Holmes is just like? Star Trek. The notes in the book I have out of the library sound just like the comments you heard last week about the new Star Trek movie, when the hardcore Trekkies had critiques of details of the costumes and how old or young Spock looked. The Sherlockians have figured out who the historical personages are upon whom the characters are based (did that make sense, or did I say it inside out?), what real church a fictional wedding was held in, and when Holmes developed a taste for what kind of beer. In other words, Trekkies are nothing new.

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