781-736-2992 | Request Info

Spring 2019 Course Schedule | Thursday

Click here to view a PDF version of the Spring 2019 Course Catalog. 

Click here to view a sortable schedule of Spring 2019 courses. Sort by day, class period, duration (5 or 10 week), or category.

To view the course schedule, click on each day of the week.

Spring 2019 courses will begin the week of March 4 and run through the week of May 13, with a break the week of April 8. There will be no courses on Patriot's Day, Monday April 15. 5b courses will begin the week of April 15, except Monday classes which will begin April 22 and run through May 20. For the Spring 2019 schedule, click here.

If needed, make up classes will be held May 20 - 23. 

*Please note: MUS4-5a-Thur1: Meet the Beatles with James Heazlewood-Dale, which had originally been published as a 10 week course, will now be offered as a 5 week course running from March 7 to April 4. 

Please be sure to click on the name of the course to read the description before signing up.





Time Class

Period 1
9:30 am to 10:55 am

Age of EnLIGHTenment: An Introduction to the Behavior of Light
Jerry Baum 
5 Week Course - March 7 - April 4

Photographers and Photographs That Changed How We See the World
Mitch Fischman
5 Week Course - April 18 - May 16

Meet the Beatles 
James Heazlewood-Dale
5 Week Course - March 7 - April 4

The Age of Wonder: Science and Culture in the Romantic Era, 1750-1850
Michael Dettelbach
5 Week Course - March 7 - April 4

Race Relations in America: The Role of the Supreme Court
Saul Schapiro

Hidden Gems: Ins and Outs of Five Small Museums
Georgia Weinstein
*This course will run during periods 1 & 2. 

Period 2
11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Hidden Gems: Ins and Outs of Five Small Museums
Georgia Weinstein
*This course will run during periods 1 & 2.

Hamlet: Prequels and Continuations
Barbara Apstein

In Search of a More Perfect Union: Jill Lepore on Identity Politics and the Civic Nation
Avi Bernstein

A Tanglewood Appetizer: 2019
Art Finstein
5 Week Course - April 18 - May 16

Those Who Would Be President
Steve Messinger

Democracy in Peril: America At the Crossroads
Emily Ostrower & Beth Mazer
5 Week Course – March 7 - April 4

12:35 pm to 2:00 pm

Lunch, Learning, and Social Life

Period 3
2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Mother Nature and Climate Change
Fara Faramarzpour 
5 Week Course - March 7 - April 4

A Life of Purpose in 20th-Century Russia
Fran Feldman
5 Week Course - April 18 - May 16

Wild Women Don't Get the Blues: Seven Female Playwrights
Jyl Lynn Felman

Rewriting Genesis: Milton's Paradise Lost
Reza Pourmikail

Current Events (Section Two)
Lois Sockol

SC12-5a-Thur1   Age of EnLIGHTenment: An Introduction to the Behavior of Light

Leader – Jerry Baum

Thursday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am
                 5 Week Course – March 7 – April 4

Description   What is light? A wave? A particle? Both? Neither? Actually, it depends on the question you ask of light; and, no, that’s not being facetious. To learn about light, it’s more productive to ask how it behaves in particular situations. This course will examine the behavior of light using as a framework the creation of satellite images of the earth. We’ll look at how light is created, how it interacts with and is transformed by earth’s atmosphere, land, and water surfaces, and how it is captured by cameras on satellites. Light phenomena we’ll study include emission, transmission, absorption, scattering, polarization, reflection, refraction, and the photoelectric effect. You’ll learn that everyone sees their own personal rainbow, why the sky is blue and the grass is green, and that Einstein won his Nobel Prize for his theory related to light, not relativity. The course will also look at light that you cannot see. And we’ll play “Guess the Land Mass Game:” looking at satellite images of places on Earth and seeing if you can identify those locations. No technical background is needed, just a willingness to observe how light behaves in the world around you. Simple, at-home experiments with light will be assigned and used to facilitate class discussions. We’ll also see how scientists come to believe what they believe and how they test those beliefs.

Readings   Some ‘light’ readings online and some online video viewing will be recommended.

Preparation Time   Maybe an hour to read online articles, to view online videos, and to perform simple, at-home experiments. Some experiment materials will be provided by the SGL at the first class, while other materials are found around the house; e.g. flashlight, baking dish, mirror.

Biography   Jerry Baum is a science communicator, with the ability to speak "science" to both technical and non-technical audiences. Those audiences have included high school students, research colleagues at conferences, and museum visitors. Jerry has a BS degree in physics, with a minor in education, and an MS also in physics. He taught high school for ten years, to students with abilities ranging from AP-level to ‘non-academic,’ where he emphasized lecture-demonstrations and hands-on laboratory experiences.   Jerry retired in Spring 2016 after twenty-seven years on the research staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. While at Lincoln, he volunteered on a team that collaborated with the Museum of Science to create an exhibit kiosk. Jerry also led a second Lincoln team that developed initial ideas for the Museum's Charles River Gallery. For both projects, he played a key role ‘translating’ between the Lincoln engineers and the Museum staff members.

Back To Top

ART6-5b-Thur1   Photographers and Photographs That Changed How We See the World

Leader – Mitch Fischman

Thursday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am
              5 Week Course – April 18 – May 16

Description   Photographs influence the way we see the world as well as our reactions to what we see. In this course we will examine how the work of photography giants such as Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Paul Strand, and W. Eugene Smith have influenced the way we see the world, particularly during photojournalism’s “Golden Age” between 1930-1950 (Depression, WWII). We will examine the influence of early photojournalism such as Matthew Brady’s Civil War photographs, Walker Evans’s Americana experience, and Lewis Hines and Jacob Reiss’ social documentation. We will consider the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson (including his “street photography”), Garry Winogrand, Vivian Maier and others who have shaped our view, particularly of daily urban life. We will examine iconic photographs such as Huynh Cong Ut’s “The Terror of War,” showing napalm bombing of a Vietnamese village, and “The Flag in the Plaza,” in which the American flag was used to attack an African-American man walking across Boston’s City Hall Plaza during the 1970 busing crisis. Class members are encouraged to send their own “street photographs” to the SGL throughout the five weeks. A portion of each class will be devoted to showing class street photos. A professional photographer may attend as a guest lecturer/participant in one of the classes. The course will be a combination of lecture, discussion, voluntary reports and examination of class member photographs.

Readings   Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of Our Time by Chris Dickie, 2010 (Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.) (estimated $14.50 Amazon); The Street Photographer’s Manual by David Gibson, 2014 (Thames & Hudson) (estimated $15.00 Amazon); and a handout of readings (at an additional fee) which will supplement the weekly assignments (estimated $18.00).

Preparation Time   2-3 hrs.

Biography   Mitch Fischman is an amateur “street photographer” who attends every possible photography exhibit and reads extensively about photographers. A Boston native, he works as an urban planning and permitting consultant to developers, universities and hospitals helping them secure approvals for their Boston real estate development projects. He holds a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Pittsburgh, a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Northeastern University. He served as an Alderman/City Councilor in Newton for 12-years., He has also led “The Boston Skyline: Boom or Bust” and co-led an earlier course on “green” buildings at BOLLI.

Back To Top

MUS4-5a-Thur1   Meet the Beatles

Leader – James Heazlewood-Dale

Thursday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am
                   5 Week Course - March 7 - April 4 
*Please note: MUS4-5a-Thur1: Meet the Beatles with James Heazlewood-Dale, which had originally been published as a 10 week course, will now be offered as a 5 week course running from March 7 to April 4. 

Description   Get a better understanding of The Beatles, and of the tremendous impact they made on the world of music. Through lectures, recordings, videos, and in-depth discussions, we’ll explore the historical and musical background of the band from Liverpool; the ways their writing and recording styles changed over the years; stories behind the members of the group; the influence of various cultures on their work and personalities; and more. We’ll consider the importance of people such as Brian Epstein, who provided management to the group, and George Martin, a key influence and creative collaborator in The Beatles’ recordings. We’ll also discuss how The Beatles’ social and musical impact differed from that of the Rolling Stones and other popular groups. No musical background is necessary: we’ll be looking at musical elements during our discussions, but musical jargon will be kept to a minimum and explained.

Readings   The SGL will provide links to online articles and other resources.

Preparation Time   Roughly 20-30 Minutes. A couple of pages and about 15 minutes of listening depending.

Biography   Growing up in Australia, James discovered a passion for playing jazz double bass. He was accepted into the Sydney Conservatorium with a full scholarship. After receiving first class honors he relocated to Boston to study at Berklee School of Music on a full scholarship. He has played with some of the world’s top jazz musicians such as Maria Schneider, Aaron Goldberg, Kurt Elling, Monty Alexander, Terence Blanchard, Donny McCaslin, George Garzone, Dave Douglas, Bob Moses and Jason Palmer. He continues to be active in the Boston music scene. He is now undertaking his PhD at Brandeis University in musicology.

Back To Top

H&G13-5a-Thur1   The Age of Wonder: Science and Culture in the Romantic Era, 1750-1850

Leader – Dettelbach, Michael

Thursday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am
                   5 Week Course – March 7 – April 4

Description   In this course, we will spend five weeks discussing Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (2008), a tremendously compelling account of how modern science emerged out of Romantic culture, not in opposition to it. Each week, we will consider a few of Holmes’s portraits of British scientists—James Cook and Joseph Banks; William, Caroline, and John Herschel; Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday—and the culture of public spectacle that surrounded them—of ballooning, polar expeditions, glaciers and mountain ascents, Frankenstein and the first “science fiction”—and think about the relationship between science and culture. The SGL will provide additional touchpoints in science and culture beyond Britain, including Immanuel Kant, Antoine Lavoisier, Edgar Allen Poe, Francois Arago, Samuel Morse, and the great “genius” hovering behind them all, Alexander von Humboldt. The hope is that participants come away stimulated, intrigued, provoked to think about the relationship between science and culture, not just around 1800, at the very origin of modern science, but around 2000. Is science part of culture or beyond it?

Readings   Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder
Required supplementary available free online

Preparation Time   30-40 pages of supplemental reading per week. Class members will also be expected to have read the main text BEFORE the start of term.

Biography   Michael Dettelbach leads the Corporate and Foundation Relations Office at Brandeis and is a historian of science and technology. He taught at Stanford University, the University of Virginia, and Smith College before moving into university administration, but still researches and publishes, primarily about Alexander von Humboldt and 18th/19th century Europe and America.

Back To Top

H&G12-10-Thur1   Race Relations in America: The Role of the Supreme Court

Leader – Saul Schapiro

Thursday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

Description   This course is an expansion of the course taught in the Spring 2018 term entitled “From Somerset to Shelby: Five Cases That Framed Race Relations in the United States for the Last 350 Years.” It will cover in depth the same five cases reviewed in that course, including Somerset v. Stewart (1772), the infamous Dred Scott case (1857), Plessey v. Ferguson (1896), Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Shelby County v. Holder (2013). These cases directly addressed the institution of slavery and legal relations between black and white Americans before and after slavery was abolished in the U.S. This expanded course will also explore how other non-white peoples fared in the American judicial system in three other Supreme Court cases: Chinese immigrants in the Chinese Exclusion Cases (1889), Native Americans in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903), and Japanese Americans in Korematsu v. United States (1944). Finally, the course will examine Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), in which a white applicant to medical school claimed that the school’s affirmative action admission policies discriminated against him on the basis of race. 

Readings   There are no required books to be read for this course. The SGL will hand out copied materials consisting primarily of the opinions of the courts in each case. Some additional material will be provided to help participants better understand the decisions. Class members are encouraged to read as much about the cases as they like online in advance of each session to facilitate informed discussion.

Preparation Time   1-2 hours per week

Biography   Saul Schapiro graduated from City College of New York and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in the Boston area for more than 40 years as a litigator and transactional lawyer. He argued cases at every level of the Massachusetts State court system, including at the Supreme Judicial Court, and trial and appellate levels of the Federal courts in Massachusetts. Mr. Schapiro represented the Boston Redevelopment Authority in major civil litigation matters for over 25 years, among other governmental and non-governmental entities. Mr. Schapiro also served as the supervising attorney for the Harvard Voluntary Defender program for eight years.

Back To Top

ART10-5a-Thur1   Hidden Gems: Ins and Outs of Five Small Museums

Leader – Georgia Weinstein

Thursday – *Course Periods 1 & 2 – 9:30 am to 12:35 pm
                   5 Week Course – March 7 – April 4

Description   Most of us know about the famous museums in the area. Smaller museums are precious gems hidden all around Boston – each containing treasures we rarely see. In this course we will visit four small art museums, including the Addison (Andover Academy), Davis (Wellesley College), Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton), the McMullen Museum (Boston College), and the Rose (Brandeis University as well as the World War II museum in Natick. All will be in close proximity to our Turner Street BOLLI location. Our first class will be a lecture on contemporary/modern art.  On each of the subsequent four weeks we will meet at one of the museums listed above or others of similar size and proximity. Trained docents will conduct tours of the current show at each facility. Exact starting times and lengths for class meetings will vary from week to week due to the museum openings and necessary travel time. Each session will be held the first two periods on the day the course is scheduled and class members can expect to be back at Turner Street for Lunch & Learn and third period. This is a repeat course only to the extent that we may revisit pieces from permanent art collections in one or more of the museums.  The emphasis will be on the new exhibits in each.

Readings   Readings and/or videos for each museum exhibit will be sent by email to class members when exhibits are announced by the museum.

Preparation Time   1-2 hours

Biography   Georgia Weinstein was a chemistry professor at Boston University from 1987-2011. In the past she led a BOLLI course on four famous Nobel Prize winners – up close and personal.  She is enthusiastic about leading this new course and has benefited greatly from the experience and encouragement of Elaine Dohan, its original SGL.

Back To Top

LIT11-10-Thur2   Hamlet: Prequels and Continuations

Leader – Barbara Apstein

Thursday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Description   "The play's the thing..." and Hamlet is a play that has enthralled audiences and stimulated volumes of debate and commentary since it was first performed around 1600. Shakespeare's best-known tragedy has also inspired generations of writers, artists and filmmakers. In this course, we'll read excerpts from the play but first we'll explore the medieval stories from which Shakespeare derived his plot. Then we'll examine how contemporary writers have taken this tragedy of murder and revenge down new and fascinating creative paths. In Gertrude and Claudius, John Updike re-imagines the central adulterous couple; Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, sees the action through the eyes of two peripheral characters; and Ian McEwan’s witty novel, Nutshell, gives us a perspective like no other. Most of the class will be devoted to discussion.

Readings   Shakespeare, Hamlet (any edition that includes line numbers)                   
John Updike, Gertrude and Claudius                                                         
Tom Stoppard, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead                             
Ian McEwan, Nutshell
Inexpensive used editions of these books are available from abebooks, Amazon and elsewhere.

Preparation Time   Two to three hours of reading.

Biography   Barbara Apstein received a doctorate in English from the City University of New York. At Bridgewater State University, where she was a professor of English for 35 years, she taught a variety of courses, ranging from Chaucer to History of the English Language and Modern British Fiction. She has published articles on Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, among other topics. Knowing that BOLLI students like a challenge, she last taught James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Back To Top

H&G16-10-Thur2   In Search of a More Perfect Union: Jill Lepore on Identity Politics and the Civic Nation

Leader – Avi Bernstein

Thursday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Description   The U.S. presidential election of 2016 exposed ominous divisions of opinion about who should lead our country and what policies they should espouse. This course will try to understand our current acrimonious political moment through a lens provided by historian Jill Lepore and her book, These Truths: A History of the United States. Lepore, echoing thoughtful political scientists like Francis Fukuyama and Mark Lilla, laments the absence today of a shared sense of American peoplehood. In telling this story she adds her voice to many contemporary observers who contend that as citizens we seem to lack solidarity with one another, and especially across boundaries of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and geography. Among the most fateful questions of our moment, Lepore suggests, is whether we as a citizenry can respond to the crisis of our union by refocusing our attention on our civic past, a collective inheritance she earnestly regards as “a gift” from our political forebears and a responsibility to be shouldered for the sake of future generations. But does Lepore the judicious historian offer a story equal to our crisis? Can she do justice both to progressive and conservative undercurrents in her reckoning with the American past? Can she bear faithful witness to our sins while also paying due regard to American greatness? This course will be facilitated with a firm hand by the study group leader, and will work best for members who enjoy a structured inquiry combining periodic lecture and moderated class discussion.

Readings   These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore (Norton, 2018). Additional readings and videos will be distributed electronically.

Preparation Time   A typical class will focus on 25 to 50 pages per week. However, class members that would like to engage in our discussions with a comprehensive sense of These Truths should plan to read the book in advance of the start of BOLLI’s Spring Term.

Biography   Avi Bernstein is the director of BOLLI and holds a doctorate in religious studies. Previous BOLLI study groups have covered writers (e.g. Hawthorne, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Iris Murdoch, and Virginia Woolf) and social theorists (e.g. Yuval Noah Harari, Francis Fukuyama, and Michael Sandel).  

Back To Top

MUS5-5b-Thur2   A Tanglewood Appetizer: 2019

Leader – Art Finstein 

Thursday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm
                    5 Week Course – April 18 – May 16

Description   The class will study a few examples of the glorious music to be performed at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony, in its 2019 season. We'll focus on what the music says to the lay listener, and specifically how. After all, music is written to communicate directly to everyone, not just to specialists and other musicians. No previous musical training is required and no reports will be assigned. What will be essential are curiosity, an openness to listen with both the heart and the mind, and, hopefully, a willingness to join in discussion.

Readings   SGL will provide readings and suggestions for each work studied, whether in reprint or online. We'll use recordings of the pieces at hand, all available at limited or no cost in multiple versions through public libraries and major retailers. The list of specific pieces will be sent in the Welcome Letter.

Preparation Time   It is expected that people will listen, hopefully more than once, to the music to be discussed in the upcoming class. Together with any suggested readings, the weekly time commitment is likely about 3 hours.

Biography   Art Finstein holds both BA and MFA degrees from Brandeis. As a pianist, conductor, theatrical music director and retired Massachusetts Music Educator, he's had a long and varied performance career and is a passionate advocate for the arts in education. He's taught extensively at all levels, including multiple successful courses at BOLLI.  

Back To Top

H&G15-10-Thur2   Those Who Would Be President

Leader – Steve Messinger

Thursday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Description   Every four years we go through the exercise of electing a president. There are endless speeches, debates, ads and expert analyses. On Election Day only one certainty exists: Someone will win and someone will lose. Most of the studies on American presidencies focus on the winners, the presidents. Yet, much is to be learned from those who lose. Many made major contributions to the nation, perhaps greater than they would have made had they been elected. We will be studying those who fell short. Some disappeared from history. Some continued in the positions they held at the time of the election. Some went on to new fame. The course will look at the lives of the candidates who did not achieve their goal, what drove them to seek the highest office in the land and ask ourselves whether America got it right. Did the best candidate win? The course will be lecture with questions to stimulate discussion on whether policies they espoused as candidates would have translated into presidential action.

Readings   Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation, by Scott Farris
SGL will supply additional handouts for reading.

Preparation Time   Typically, 1 hour per week.

Biography   Steve Messinger has degrees in chemical engineering from Columbia University and spent his career in technical marketing of membrane processes to the pharmaceutical, dairy, and water industries. During his travels, plane time gave him the opportunity to read, become interested in, and finally passionate about history. While he has read widely on all Western history, he has had an ever- growing fascination with the formation of this country. He has read extensively and hopes to transmit some of the passion he has developed. This will be his twelfth opportunity to be an SGL. 

Back To Top

H&G14-5a-Thur2   Democracy in Peril: America at the Crossroads

Leaders – Emily Ostrower & Beth Mazer 

Thursday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm
                    5 Week Course – March 7 – April 4

Description   After the defeat of Nazism, the Allies set out to establish treaties and institutions to protect, preserve and secure democracy throughout the world. With the fall of the Soviet Union 45 years later, it appeared that democracy was indeed victorious. America and our allies were triumphant. In ensuing years, however, economic, social and political upheaval at home and around the world have sown the seeds of nationalism and populism, threatening the foundations of democracy in many countries, including our own. Using the acclaimed book by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die, as well as supplemental readings and podcasts, we will explore the issues that have created fertile ground for the current rise of authoritarianism at home and abroad. The selected readings will provide a basis for a discussion course, focusing on threats to democratic rule and what it will take to again protect, preserve and secure it especially here in America. 

Readings   The core text will be Levitsky & Ziblatt’s book How Democracies Die. It can be purchased on Amazon for around $13.00. To probe specific topics in greater depth, the SGLs will supplement with articles from publications such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Foreign Policy Magazine. They will all be available through Internet links the SGLs will provide.   

Preparation Time   2 ½ -3 hours per week

Biography   Emily Ostrower, who is retired from the Newton Public Schools as an elementary principal, has co-taught a number of BOLLI courses with Beth Mazer focusing on an in-depth analysis of contemporary issues. She enjoys traveling around the world, loves history and the social sciences, and is an inveterate news and politics junkie. This course has provided an opportunity to explore some of her own questions about America’s current challenges.

Beth Mazer has been attending BOLLI for over 10 years and in the past 3 years has been co-teaching courses with Emily Ostrower. Beth comes from a 30-year background in catering. She has long had a passionate interest in politics, reading avidly and widely on the issues of the day. This course is an outgrowth of that passion.

Back To Top

SCI3-5a-Thur3   Mother Nature and Climate Change

Leaders – Fara Faramarzpour 

Thursday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm
                    5 Week Course – March 7 – April 4

Description   Our planet is experiencing a major change in its climate. There are many factors that determine this change, but most important is the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses emitted by burning fossil fuels. In this short course, we will study how the components of the climate system (the atmosphere, the ocean, the ocean ice and the glaciers) interact in determining the earth’s climate, and its temperature. We will use supporting data from sources such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and other scientific organizations for the modeling of the future trends in temperature, the melting of the glaciers, and the change in the sea level.

Readings   Readings will be available online from a class website.

Preparation Time   Two hours per week

Biography   Fara has taught many courses at BOLLI, on subjects including our planet, the development of human knowledge and civilization, and the history of science. His academic background includes physics, astronomy and earth science. He loves nature and reading about science and our cultural heritage.

Back To Top

H&G16-5b-Thur3   A Life of Purpose in 20th-Century Russia

Leaders – Fran Feldman 

Thursday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm
                    5 Week Course – April 18 – May 16

Description   One yearns today for the wit, grace, and civility so deftly displayed by Count Alexander Rostov in Amor Towles’ novel A Gentleman in Moscow. Despite the nearly 100 years and 5,000 miles separating 20th-century Russia from early 21st-century America, the challenges of living a meaningful life in the straitened circumstances described in the book are as relevant today as they were for Count Rostov. The “life lessons” that skip across the pages of the book reflect the human condition and prod introspection and discourse. Writers, artists, and politicians who play supporting roles in the background beg for more rounded and informed lives. And finally, the world-changing events casually dropped here and there in the text demand to be brought to life. This course is not simply a review of the book. Instead, the class will look at, around, and beyond the text, examining what it means to live a life of purpose, how famous men of arts and letters affected the Russian spirit, and especially how the transformative events of 20th-century Russia—the Portsmouth Peace Treaty of 1905, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism, the gulag, and World War II—framed the existence of a gentleman in Moscow in the last century. The SGL anticipates much lively class discussion and, because she is not an expert on modern Russian history, many class reports on events touched on in the book.

Readings   A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Preparation Time   Approximately 100 pages of reading a week

Biography   Long interested in government and history, Fran Feldman majored in government at Smith College, received a Master of Arts in Teaching (in history) from Yale, and taught social studies in middle school. Later, in California, she embarked on a second career editing cooking, gardening, crafts, travel, and home improvement books for Sunset Books. After returning home to the Boston area, she worked as an administrator and financial trainer in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. Her passions include golf, traveling, and volunteer work. Previously at BOLLI she taught “The Remarkable Roosevelts,” “Allies and Adversaries,” and “The Reluctant Ally.”

Back To Top

LIT12-10-Thur3   Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues: Seven Female Playwrights

Leaders – Jyl Lynn Felman 

Thursday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description   From Pulitzer Prize to Obie award winners, we’ll read seven women playwrights who cross literary boundaries and leap off the page in their nonlinear writing. Playwrights include Adrienne Kennedy, Margaret Edson, Paula Vogel, and four others. With brilliant language and cutting-edge scripts on taboo topics, these plays will astound you. We will use the intersecting lenses of race, class, gender, and sexuality to unravel these amazing plays. In addition to discussing each play's themes and characters, we will read selected scenes in class. So that our page numbers will be in sync, it is recommended that class members obtain the Samuel French edition of each play if it is available and if it is not more expensive than other versions. 

Readings   Watch On The Rhine by Lillian Hellman     
The Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy   
Wit by Margaret Edson  
How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel 
Spinning Into Butter by Rebecca Gilman
Still by Jen Silverman  
Cost of Living by Martyna Majok 
Plays are available in libraries and inexpensively used at abebooks.com and other online sites. If all are purchased, total cost would be $50-$60. If available and competitively priced, the Samuel French edition of each play is recommended.

Preparation Time   It is recommended that each play be read twice, totaling 60-100 pages/week, about 2 hours.

Biography   Jyl Lynn Felman, a former Brandeis professor, playwright and performance artist, is the author of Hot Chicken Wings, a short story collection; Cravings, a memoir; and Never A Dull Moment: Teaching and The Art Of Performance. She has performed her one-woman shows, “Terri Schiavo, Inc,” “Burning In Cuba,” and “Silicone Valley across the USA and internationally.  “If Only I’d Been Born A Kosher Chicken aired on C-SPAN’s performance series. Productions of her plays include Oh Daddy, Poor Daddy in The Seven Deadly Sins Festival and SLAMBoston; and Birdie in The Universal Theatre Festival.  For more information see: www.jyllynnfelman.com

Back To Top

LIT13-10-Thur3   Rewriting Genesis: Milton’s Paradise Lost

Leaders – Reza Pourmikail 

Thursday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description   When John Milton published Paradise Lost in 1667, the poem’s audacity was shocking to contemporary British readers. Not only had Milton written an un-rhyming poem in the antique form of epic, but he had undertaken to rewrite the biblical story of the creation and the fall of humankind. Despite his devout Christian faith and learning, Milton felt compelled to improve upon the very word of God. Thus, at the heart of Paradise Lost lies the question of authorship: claiming one’s authority, and what is gained and lost with that claim. A sensual Puritan, a heretical Christian, and a government censor who advocated for free speech, Milton the person embodied the contradictions that we find at every turn in his writing. In this discussion-centered 10-week course, we will carefully read through the most acclaimed poem in the English language, thinking deeply about the role of the artist in social and historical contexts. Considering the important issues of Milton’s time, such as freedom and censorship, citizenship and regicide, and gender and proto-feminism, we will stress the relevance of Paradise Lost to the political and social debates of our own contemporary world. We will also learn to appreciate the aesthetic power of Milton’s verse, paying close attention to poetic form and language.

Readings   Please use this edition:
Paradise Lost by John Milton
ISBN 978-0872207332; Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.; 3rd edition (Edited by David Scott Kastan); 2005

Preparation Time   2-4 hours of reading per week

Biography   Reza Pourmikail is a PhD student in the English department at Brandeis University. Reza received his BA in English from the University of California, Davis in 2014. His research at Brandeis is in British literature of the Early Modern period, with a particular interest in the poetry and thought of John Milton. He is excited to be teaching Paradise Lost, as he thinks it a rich text that has something to offer to everyone.

Back To Top

CE2-10-Thur3   Current Events (Section Two)

Leader – Lois Sockol    

Thursday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm 

Description   We live in a complex time when what happens in one part of our world affects us all, which requires us to stay informed as the world rapidly changes. This course is designed to inform, to discuss current news stories, and provide thoughtful analysis. In most sessions, our attention will be divided between world events and national news. Class members are encouraged to present reports, lead a class discussion on a current topic, and take part in group discussions. Interest and keeping up to date with the news are the only prerequisites.

Readings   Access to newspapers, news magazines, and web sources will be required.

Preparation Time   1 to 2 hours

Biography   Lois Sockol taught children and adults for 25 years. Her undergraduate degree is from Boston University with a masters from Lesley College. The bulk of Lois’ professional years were spent in the Newton Public Schools where she taught children and was a consultant to teachers. She was an educational consultant to schools throughout New England. After retirement, Lois again became a student, and a writer of short stories. Four of her short stories have been published: one in a literary journal, and three online. Retirement allows Lois to feed her current events habit. BOLLI affords the opportunity to share with others who habitually follow the news.

Back To Top

Learn More

View our events calendar for the latest list of upcoming learning opportunities.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions.

You're invited to visit us and learn what BOLLI is all about.