The use of English is on the rise in Switzerland. Many of us use it in our daily lives, and many native English speakers live here too. That is why we at the Volkshochschule have decided to offer a small number of courses in English. Of course there is no proper translation for the word Volkshochschule – but «Open University» comes pretty close. Come and think in English!


Dr. Lucy R. Peter

D. H. Lawrence „The Fox“, „The Captain’s Doll“, „The Ladybird“ and Ernest Hemingway „A Farewell to Arms“

We are going to read, interpret and discuss fascinating, gripping works of great English and American literature: „The Fox“, „The Captain’s Doll“, „The Ladybird“, three novellas by D. H. Lawrence. In these jewels, the writer depicts the forever bleeding wounds inflicted on different social classes and nationalities by the ravages of the Great War that was to be the end of all wars. In „A Farewell to Arms“ by Ernest Hemingway, an American lieutenant and an English nurse are plunged into the savagery of World War 1 against the backdrop of the gentle countryside in northern Italy. Moreover, in these works, intertwined is the painful passion of great love.


Michael Roth

Philosophy in English. How Science has influenced Modern Culture

  • Tuesday, Mai1 4, 2019 – June 4, 2019, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., University of Zurich, main building.

Since the 19th century science and technology have become dominate forces shaping our lives and culture. After looking at how the scientific revolution began and how science has effectively replaced religious and philosophical explanations of the world, we will turn to recent debates about the status of scientific knowledge.
Participants need not be fluent in spoken English but should be able to read short texts.

Participants do not need to be fluent in spoken English, but an ability to read short texts in English is expected.


Dr. Darragh Séamus Gallagher

„Two novels by Graham Greene“

  • Fryday, Mai 3 – June 7, 2019, 5x, 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., Haus Bärengasse 22

An introduction to the history, literature, music, visual arts and landscape of Ireland across the centuries. Alongside the work of writers and artists, this course will consider ancient Ireland, myths and legends, the Celtic Church, castles and monasteries of the middle ages, and the English conquest that marked the end of the Gaelic order and the beginning of Ireland’s colonisation in the seventeenth century.


Prof. Dr. Beshara Doumani

Keynote Lecture: „Property Devolution, Shari’a, and the Making of the Modern Middle East“

  • Wednesday, June 5, 10 – 11 a.m., University of Zurich, main building
    In Cooperation with Swiss Congress of Historical Sciences

The lecture explains, how property devolution as a system of social, legal, and pious practices reproduced and transformed family life in the eastern Mediterranean in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this context the most propertied individuals in Nablus and Tripoli preferred to devolve some or all of what they owned during their lifetime. The most common way to do this was to endow family awqaf, charitable endowment under Islamic law.

In Cooperation with Swiss Congress of Historical Sciences,


Prof. Dr. Pierre-Yves Donzé, Dr. Roland Flückiger-Seiler, Prof. Dr. Valentin Groebner & Prof. Dr. Alexis Schwarzenbach

„The Wealth of the Past: Storytelling in the Swiss Luxury Industry“

  • Wednesday, June 5, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., University of Zurich, main building
    In Cooperation with Swiss Congress of Historical Sciences

Many companies that today are linked with luxury goods or services have a long history dating back to the 19th century or beyond. Their marketing divisions adorn themselves with an apparently uninterrupted history of exquisiteness. It is the aim of this panel to look beyond this marketing façade and question the ways in which (invented) traditions are or can be used as resources in the Swiss luxury industry.

Part of the lectures and debates of the Swiss Historical Science Days,


Corina Hösli

„Jack, the Dripper“

  • Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, 19:30 – 20:45, University of Zurich, main building

Born in 1912, the American artist is famous for his «drip paintings». Combining dripping, pouring or flinging paint onto and moving around a canvas, Pollock achieved an expressive technique for creating his art. Picasso, Miró and American Indian sandpainting were among Pollock’s influences. We explore Pollock’s early works as well as his later «drip paintings».

Including a visit to the Kunsthaus Zürich and its exhibition „Hour Zero“, works by Jackson Pollock, on Saturday, 31st of August.