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Norwich Campus Plans Class, Writer's Seminar

Focus will be on rural-life in America and the Chester Gillette-Grace Brown murder trial
MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Morrisville State College’s Norwich Campus is planning a class and writer’s seminar that will explore rural-life in America with a special focus on Upstate New York.

The primary focus of the class and seminar will be on the events surrounding the famous Chester Gillette—Grace Brown murder trial, a national story that grew into a legend and became the basis for Theodore Dreiser's famous novel, An American Tragedy (1925) and the 1951 film, A Place in the Sun.

The course, taught by instructor Mike Foor-Pessin, is being held in conjunction with events planned throughout Chenango and Herkimer counties in 2006 commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Chester Gillette—Grace Brown murder trial. Gillette was found guilty of killing Brown at Big Moose Lake in 1906 and was executed by electrocution in 1908.

Registration is under way now for the class and seminar which are both open to the public. The class, which begins Jan. 24, 2006, will meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. The seminar is scheduled for April 12, 2006 from 7-9 p.m.

The tragic story, which still fascinates people a century later, has found its way in American culture in fictional and non-fictional accounts, plays, music, a new opera, and movies. The popular television series, Unsolved Mysteries, even devoted a segment of its program to the murder and sightings of Brown’s ghost.

The class will cover the events surrounding the Grace Brown murder. It will also examine the murder and trial, and investigate the long-term ramifications of the tragedy. There will be discussions of how it has changed people’s lives today and if its lessons are still relevant in Chenango County today.

During the course, non-fictional works such as Murder in the Adirondacks, by Craig Brandon, and Adirondack Tragedy, by Joseph Brownell, will be studied. Theodore Dreiser’s book, An American Tragedy, the single work that many experts believe is responsible for what has now become a legendary story of desperate love and betrayal, will also be featured as well as Jennifer Donnelly’s intriguing new recasting of the Grace Brown murder, A Northern Light.
During the seminar, Donnelly, Brandon and Brownell will participate in a dialogue with students and the community. Both an evening presentation for the general public and in-class meetings with students are planned, as well as book signings. The seminar is free.

The class includes a non-credit (audit) option for students and members of the community provided there are audit openings. Tuition for the class is $581 for traditional credit or $150 for audit. Registration details for credit and non-credit enrollment are available on the Web at or by calling 607-334-5144.

Morrisville State College offers 12 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones.

The Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in business, technologies, liberal arts transfer, and nursing to Chenango County area residents and employers. Its new academic building, Roger W. Follett Hall, opened in June 2005 to accommodate the growing need for programs and services.