Joan of Arc: Genius, Saint--or Prodigy of Common Sense? | Newberry

Joan of Arc: Genius, Saint--or Prodigy of Common Sense?

Led by Susanne Dumbleton, PhD
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Six sessions, Thursdays, February 18 - March 25

6 - 8 pm (Central Time)

Newberry Adult Education Seminars will meet virtually via Zoom. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. If you have questions about online learning, please reach out to

Seminar Description

The mystery of Joan of Arc has intrigued historians and artists for almost 600 years. How could a seventeen-year-old with no military training convince a jaded army to follow her--and win? How could she withstand the fierce inquisition of Christendom’s most learned clerics? Was she a genius? A saint? Or was she a paragon of common sense? In this seminar, we will consider the mystery through original trial transcripts, three superb plays--Shaw’s Saint Joan; Anouilh’s The Lark, and Anderson’s Joan of Lorraine--and Dreyer’s classic film, The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Six sessions. Registration – $230

Susanne Dumbleton is professor emeritus and former dean at DePaul University. She earned her doctorate in literature with an emphasis on the Middle Ages. As a child attending Camp Jeanne d’Arc, she first became interested in the life and work of Joan of Arc.

Materials List


  • A selection of shorter materials distributed by the instructor.

  • Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw. Penguin, 1946. ISBN: 978-0-140-43791-1

  • The Lark by Jean Anouilh and translated by Christopher Fry. Samuel French, Acting Edition, 1955. ISBN: 978-0-573-01225-9

  • Joan of Lorraine by Maxwell Anderson. Dramatists Play Service, Inc, 1946. ISBN: 0-8222-0593-0

  • The Passion of Joan of Arc. Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928. Available to stream or purchase.


  • The Story of Joan of Arc by Maurice Boutet de Monvel. Dover, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-486-47026-9

First Reading:

  • There is no initial reading assignment for this seminar.

Registration Information

Registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, January 13th. Newberry Associates members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning January 7 at 10am. Learn more about membership benefits and becoming a Newberry Associate.

Please note: For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.