Reconciling Dilemmas—Les Miserables


Portrait of "Cosette" by Emile Bayard, from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)

Portrait of “Cosette” by Emile Bayard, from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)

I was a 19-year-old coed when I first became a fan of Charles Hampden-Turner. His just-published Maps of the Mind had me so excited about our brains’ potential! In the decades since, having the pleasure of teaching on the faculty of the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication with Charles, I have learned how truly incredible his mind is, and what a terrific person he is, as well. I’ve threatened to make him autograph my first-edition copy of Maps of the Mind!

Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the recent SIETAR Europa (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research) Congress in Tallinn, Estonia. However, Cultural Detective was very well represented: our authors delivered about ten pre-conference workshops and concurrent sessions. Plus, we had a booth in the exhibit hall so attendees could chat with our authors and experience CD Online. 

One of the conference events that sounded particularly attractive was a special session on  Friday evening of the Congress, conducted by this very same Renaissance man, Charles Hampden-Turner. It was titled, Diversity and Dualism in Les Miserables. Here is the session description that enticed me:

Victor Hugo said, “I condemn slavery, I banish poverty, I teach (to) ignorance, I treat disease, I lighten the night, and I hate hatred. That is what I am, and that is why I have written Les Miserables.”

This session will use video excerpts and song lyric transcriptions from the musical rendition of Les Miserables to explore its unusually enlightened 19th century view of social deviance and its equally sophisticated treatment of dualism and value reconciliation. Attendees can expect to participate in a lively discussion of justice, ethicality, identity, and other issues that figure centrally in the living and teaching of intercultural communication.

The event’s sponsors, our colleagues over at IDRI (Intercultural Development Research Institute in Milano), have mostly kindly uploaded the slides used during this event. Not nearly as good as being there, but wonderful nonetheless. If you loved Victor Hugo’s book, or the musical on stage or film, definitely take some time to review the slides.

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