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MiniU update: A weekend of learning for fun

MiniU update: A weekend of learning for fun

The magic of messages, rare books, and the stars are just three of the fascinating subjects that will be on the marquee at the second annual MiniU.

University staff are ready to roll out the red carpet on the weekend of May 22-24.

University staff are ready to roll out the red carpet on the weekend of May 22-24 for alumni and friends of Queen’s who’ve signed up for MiniU ’09. Up to 300 people are expected to attend. Seventy participants in last year’s inaugural MiniU are returning for a second weekend of learning and exploration on campus. This year, participants have the choice of staying for the entire weekend, or choosing à-la-carte sessions. Some Spring Reunion classes are taking advantage of MiniU to offer some pre-programmed educational sessions for their returning members. 

MiniU is set up as a weekend of ‘learning for fun’. Participants can meet the people and explore the many resources of the University, learn about current research, and sample life as a Queen’s student. Here’s a selection of the offerings at MiniU’09.

The business of magic

Prof. Vincent Sacco
Photo: Greg Black, University

Prof. Vincent Sacco (Sociology) will deliver a lecture entitled “Nothing Up My Sleeve: What I Learned From the Master Magicians.” Sacco became interested in magic as a child, and built up his repertoire as an amateur magician before dropping his “geeky habit”, as he calls it. Professionally, he is well known for his work in the field of criminology. In his lecture, he will draw parallels between his childhood hobby and his professional study of popular culture and collective behaviour.

“Magic is predicated on ignorance,” he explains. “The whole point is to have your audience not understand what you’ve done.” Similarly, information presented to the general public through political rhetoric and in advertising is carefully crafted to elicit specific responses. “Government and corporations are in exactly the same business: the management and diffusion of information–some of which they want you to see, and some of which they don’t,” says Sacco. 

An out-of-this-world experience

Astrophysicist Stephane Courteau
Photo: Greg Black, University Photographer

Astrophysicist Stephane Courteau will open up a whole new universe during a night-time session at the Queen’s Observatory. Using the powerful observatory telescope on the roof of Ellis Hall, MiniU participants will be able to view the moons of Jupiter and Saturn’s rings, as well as discover less familiar objects, like quasars and galaxy clusters.

Courteau, who studies the formation, structure, and evolution of galaxies, will discuss the history and importance of astronomy, from Galileo’s invention of the telescope 400 years ago to the discovery of the existence of dark matter. Those who take part in the session will hear about the research that’s being conducted at Queen’s in the quest to further understand the cosmos.

Between the covers

Associate University Librarian
Barbara Teatero with the
Kelmscott Chaucer
Photo: Greg Black,
University Photographer

Librarian Barbara Teatero has selected a variety of rare books and items from Special Collections to discuss with MiniU participants. She will share the provenance of each item, how it made its way to Queen’s, and its historical significance. One of the books on display will be a 1555 illustrated medical book by Andreas Vesalius, who’s known as the founder of the modern study of human anatomy. The anatomical drawings found in this book are notable not only for their medical accuracy, but also for the romantic pastoral settings of the drawings by artist Stephan van Calcar, a pupil of Titian.

Another book, the Kelmscott Chaucer, is a richly illustrated volume of Chaucer’s works, published by renowned British artist William Morris in 1896. The Queen’s copy, one of only 48 bound in pigskin, was once owned by T.E. Lawrence, the noted adventurer and writer. The Kelmscott Chaucer, with its lavish woodcuts, rich detail, and tooled binding, is considered a masterpiece of book design.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2009-2 cover]