781-736-2992 | Request Info

Fall 2022 Course Schedule | Thursday

All classes will be on Zoom unless otherwise marked.

View the Fall 2022 Course Catalog.

Sort the course list by day of the week, class period, topic or duration.

Fall 2022 courses begin the week of September 12 and run through the week of November 28. There will be no courses September 26-27, October 5, or October 10. Monday 5b courses will begin the week of October 31, Tuesday and Wednesday 5b courses will begin the week of October 24, and Thursday 5b courses will begin the week of October 17. View the fall 2022 schedule.

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

All times refer to the Eastern Time Zone.

If you have questions about what courses might be right for you, please email our team of course advisors at bolli@brandeis.edu.






Time Class

Period 1
9:30 am to 10:55 am

Realism vs. Idealism: Justice and Power in Global Politics
Kemal Onur Toker

How to Take and Edit Awesome Photos on Your iPhone
Ellen Foust

Memoir Writing
Linda Wolfson

Pages from the Neurologist’s Notebook: Insights from Oliver Sacks
Mercedes Villalonga
5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Data, Data Everywhere. Is There a Drop of Meaning to Drink?
Jerry Baum
5 week course - October 20 - November 17

Period 2
11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Nature in the Literary Imagination: From the Bible to the 20th Century
Barbara Apstein

Joe McCarthy: The Man, the Myths, the Movement
David Moskowitz

Current Events (Section 2)
Lois Sockol

Moving from Sympathy to Empathy in Attitudes Toward Neurological Diseases: The Books of Lisa Genova
Janice Burres

Contemporary Issues in Macroeconomics and Finance
Geof Woglom
5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Religion and Abortion – A Complicated Relationship
Michael Woolf
5 week course - September 15 - October 13

When We Cease to Understand the World: The Twisting Path to Scientific Discovery
Peter Schmidt
5 week course - October 20 - November 17

12:35 pm to 2:00 pm


Period 3
2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Islamist Ideology in the Middle East: The Genesis and Development of a Dominant Movement
Tarek Abu Hussein

An Introduction to Christianity Through Ancient and Modern Sources
Leah Rumsey

Music Unbound: The Rise of Romanticism
Roberta Kozinn

Looking Together: Art in the Company of Artists, Curators, and Fellow Classmates
Diane Winkelman
5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Songwriter’s Playground: Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting
Barbara Jordan
5 week course - September 15 - October 13

The Land Down Under: Understanding Australia Through Film
Kate Seideman
5 week course - October 20 - November 17

Domesticating Vengeance: Aeschylus’ Oresteia
Joel Christensen
5 week course - October 20 - November 17

H&G17-10-Thu1 Realism vs. Idealism: Justice and Power in Global Politics

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Kemal Onur Toker

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description In 416 BC, the Athenian Empire imposed an unprovoked naval blockade on the small Aegean island state of Melos and issued this chilling ultimatum to the island’s rulers: either surrender and become subjects of the Athenian Empire or we will put all your adult males to the sword and sell all your women and children to slavery. When the Melians protested that this ultimatum was blatantly unfair and unjust, the Athenian emissaries famously responded, “you know as well as we do that ‘justice,’ as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Since this exchange was recorded for posterity by the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides, many influential political thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle have argued that the Athenian emissaries’ brazen subordination of justice to power is a recipe for moral bankruptcy and bloodthirsty tyranny. Other political thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, however, have dismissed this reaction as naively “idealistic.” For such self-styled “realists,” all talk of “justice” in global politics is either self-defeating naïveté or self-serving hypocrisy. In this course, we will be discussing several key short texts to situate the debate between “realism” and “idealism” in two concrete historical contexts: (1) European colonialism and its impact on global politics from the sixteenth century to the present; (2) the ongoing struggle for global hegemony between the United States and China in the early twenty-first century.

Course Materials I will be providing PDFs of 10 different short texts as well as links to online videos.

Preparation Time 2 hours per week

Biography Kemal Onur Toker has taught Global Politics and Renaissance Literature in the UK, Turkey, and the U.S. He is currently finishing his doctoral work in Renaissance Literature at Brandeis.

Back To Top

ART3-10-Thu1 How to Take and Edit Awesome Photos on Your iPhone

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Ellen Foust

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description Are you disappointed with your iPhone photos? Are they out of focus or uninteresting? Would you like to create stunning pictures of children, pets, sunsets, fall foliage, reflections, and more using only your iPhone? If so, this course is for you. Learn to take photos no one will believe were taken with your phone. Each lively, interactive session will be divided into three sections: feedback on your homework photos, iPhone camera technology, and artistic skills. You will learn the artistic elements of a good photograph to hone your “seeing skills.” You will become familiar with the technical features of your iPhone camera, including its built-in photo editing software. And you will share your homework photos and learn how to improve them. Note: iPhone users only. All models welcome, although camera features differ on the various models. You should be very comfortable experimenting with technology.

Course Materials Optional book (NOT a textbook, but a wonderful resource for iPhone Photography): The Enthusiast’s Guide to iPhone Photography: 63 Photographic Principles You Need to Know, Sean Duggan, Rockynook, 2019. ISBN: 978-1-68198-358-5, $24.95 USD. Other optional materials (links to other books, Youtube videos, PDFs) will be posted on a Google Site.

Preparation Time Up to an hour of taking photos with your iPhone

Biography Ellen Foust is an award-winning visual artist/photographer with a passion for teaching. Her experience spans darkroom to digital, portraiture to landscapes. She holds an MA in art history, an MEd in education, and has studied at the New England School of Photography. Her most recent exhibitions have been at the Wellesley Library, LexArt, and the Fountain Street Gallery in SoWa. Ellen has taught this class six times at UMB OLLI and once at BOLLI, including four times virtually. ellenfoustphotography.com; instagram.com/ellenfoustphotography

Back To Top

WRI2-10-Thu1 Memoir Writing

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Linda Wolfson

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description This course has proven to be a welcoming place for anyone interested in writing and telling their stories. The design of the course is simple. We all commit to writing each week and to bringing about 500 words to share aloud at each meeting. Each class offers a prompt which can be used, ignored or reshaped. The prompts are only suggestions, sometimes a new way to shape the material you are working with. Please note that prompts change each term so new and former participants are welcome. Participants will find that the prompts stimulate creative thinking and self-reflection.

Our work together is to encourage and support the efforts of each member of the group. Our response to writing is always based on listening generously, trying to understand what is being said, or what is almost said in the writing. Because our work rests on coherence and trust, regular attendance is necessary. You don’t have to be a skilled writer to participate. You just have to be willing to explore and be supportive of others’ explorations. Participants’ comments about the course have always praised the power of the group, the value of hearing one another’s work, and the warm responses offered by class members.

Course Materials A set of prompts will be provided to participants prior to the first class.

Preparation Time Each class member will be asked to write a 500 word piece each week using the prompts provided by the SGL.

Biography Linda Wolfson holds a BA from University of Massachusetts, Boston and M.S.W. from Boston University School of Social Work. As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, she worked in Hospice Care and in a mixed-income Assisted Living Facility. Her interest in writing dates back to childhood and has always been a consistent part of her life. She has studied with Marjorie Roemer at BOLLI. Linda will use her group leadership skills to continue to facilitate the model for this course created by Marjorie Roemer.

Back To Top

SCI1-5a-Thu1 Pages from the Neurologist’s Notebook: Insights from Oliver Sacks

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Mercedes Villalonga

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

5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Description Chances are, you’ve heard of the novel The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, but you may be less familiar with terms like prosopagnosia, alexia, and agraphia. In his case studies, Oliver Sacks demystifies these often complex topics in neuropsychology by presenting them through the lens of subjective human experience. In this course, we will read a diverse selection of case studies written by Sacks with the goal of understanding both the science behind these fascinating phenomena as well as their social, emotional, and deeply personal effects. Examples of cases include individuals who exhibit an inability to recognize faces (like the man who indeed mistook his wife for a hat!), or a man who suddenly couldn’t read his newspaper (but had no trouble writing). Each class will be split between lecture on the key neuropsychological concepts from a single Sacks case and guided discussion of their broader human context. Study of these cases and related concepts will not only leave you with a stronger understanding of the complexity of the human nervous system, but also reveal the fragile nature of basic neurological functions that we take for granted in everyday life. No prior background in neuroscience is necessary for enrollment in this course.

Course Materials Reprints of Oliver Sacks’ essays (from The New Yorker and/or his books) will be posted online.

Preparation Time 2-3 hours of reading per week (20-30 pages)

Biography Mercedes Villalonga is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at Brandeis University. After earning her BA in psychology from Boston University, Mercedes worked in an ophthalmology laboratory studying risk factors for eye disease. In 2019, Mercedes received her MA in psychology at Brandeis University for her study of sensory integration in vision and touch. Mercedes now studies mechanisms of time perception, attention, and decision making. While at Brandeis, she has served as a teaching assistant for multiple psychology courses on topics in cognition and perception.

Back To Top

SCI2-5b-Thu1 Data, Data Everywhere. Is There a Drop of Meaning to Drink?

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Jerry Baum

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

5 week course - October 20 - November 17

Description The evening news says there were 1,287 Covid-19 deaths yesterday. I say, “So what?” It’s not that I’m cold-hearted. It’s just that I don’t know what that number means. Is 1,287 a large number or a small one? Does it indicate deaths are increasing or decreasing? We are bombarded daily with data. Data tell stories. This course aims to make you a more critical reader of those stories. The course follows data from collection to description to presentation. We’ll first consider that using data to understand the world is a relatively recent concept(a new epistemology), developed only in the roughly 500 years since Galileo. Then, we’ll discuss how data are collected by counting, measuring, and sampling (or polling). Once collected, data are characterized by both a single ‘best’ number and by describing the variability of that ‘best’ number.

Finally, we will examine how tables, graphs, and pictorial representations can compare data, illustrate trends, and make predictions. As an example of how well-presented data can save lives, we’ll see how John Snow discovered the cause of London’s 1853 cholera outbreak. Learning activities will include readings, SGL presentations, classroom discussions, and examples from current events. Students will perform simple data collection exercises at home. Each week, students will bring in data examples from media sources (newspapers, magazines, television, online, etc.) to motivate class discussions and to learn how to critique the data and their presentation. This course is aimed at non-technical students looking to understand the meaning behind the numbers.

Course Materials A course syllabus will be provided before the first class and will include links to on-line readings, videos, at-home activities, and questions to guide participants’ reading.

Preparation Time One hour per week or less: includes reading online material, performing at-home activities, and looking for data examples in media to bring to class.

Biography Jerry Baum is a science communicator, who can 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 BS and MS degrees in physics, with an undergraduate minor in education. He taught high school for ten years, where he emphasized lecture-demonstrations and hands-on laboratory experiences. Jerry spent twenty-seven years on the research staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. While there, he volunteered on two collaborations with the Museum of Science. For both, he played a key role ‘translating’ between the Lincoln engineers and the Museum staff members.

Back To Top

LIT2-10-Thu2 Nature in the Literary Imagination: From the Bible to the 20th Century

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Barbara Apstein

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description Over the past few years, many of us have found ourselves more attentive to the natural world than ever before. We’ve explored nearby parks and woods; observed and documented the activities of local wildlife--the birds, rabbits, turkeys, foxes and deer that appear in our backyards. Meanwhile, on a global scale, we’re alarmed to see the natural world becoming increasingly fragile and endangered due to climate change. Many writers through the ages have been sensitive and responsive to their natural surroundings. Using a historical perspective, this course will explore the diverse ways they have understood and described nature in a variety of literary genres. We will begin with the Biblical description of the Garden of Eden and Milton’s elaboration in Paradise Lost.

Next, we’ll consider the pastoral tradition with its nymphs and shepherds, examining Greek, Roman and Renaissance texts and culminating in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Moving closer to our own era, we’ll explore the work of writers who were deeply affected by the Industrial Revolution and the resulting mass migration from the countryside into cities. We’ll explore the ways in which Wordsworth’s poetry, Thoreau’s essays and D. H. Lawrence’s stories imagine escaping from an alienated, urban, “civilized” life into a profound relationship with the natural world. For these writers, nature is a source of wonder, instruction and renewal. Finally, Wallace Stegner’s novel, All the Little Live Things, set in 1960’s California, will bring us full circle to another version of paradise lost.

Course Materials Books to purchase: Shakespeare, As You Like It; Thoreau, Walden; Stegner, All the Little Live Things. The other readings (poems and stories) will be posted on the class website.

Preparation Time It will depend on the reading assignment; less time for poetry than for the play and novel. Not to exceed two hours in a week.

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 Modern British Fiction. She has published articles about Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, among other topics. This is the third course she has offered at BOLLI.

Back To Top

H&G12-10-Thu2 Joe McCarthy: The Man, the Myths, the Movement

Study Group Leader (SGL) – David Moskowitz

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description While most people have some knowledge of Joe McCarthy’s exploits and his meteoric rise to fame as a strident anti-communist, his story is well worth knowing in full as it tells us much about America and its core beliefs. What did the term “McCarthyism” originally convey and what has it morphed into today? How did our political framework allow McCarthy to operate as judge and jury? Why wasn’t proof ever demanded of him? Why were so many fearful of challenging him, both inside and outside his Party? And, to what extent did he chart a path toward demagoguery that made it easy for someone like Donald Trump to follow? Trump learned from McCarthy that if you say something often enough it takes on its own reality, thereby spawning the concept of alternative facts. What is it about the far right that fuels conspiracy over dispassionate evidence and common decency?

Using two distinctive texts, we will explore a truly disheartening time for free speech and learn how the Republican party enabled McCarthy’s demagoguery in order to regain power, whatever the costs to our democratic principles. What lessons were learned versus what lessons should have been learned? Finally, our examination of McCarthy will provide tremendous insight into the Trump phenomenon. Has Trump replaced McCarthy as America’s most famous demagogue? Is Trump merely McCarthy 2.0, or something quite different? Through class discussions we will examine their similarities and differences. Why does America seem to love bullies?

Course Materials Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy by Tom Wicker.

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy by Larry Tye.

There will also be some YouTube videos to be watched at home, e.g., McCarthy army hearings, Edward Murrow broadcast, etc.

Preparation Time The Wicker book is 194 pages. The Tye book is 481 pages.

Biography David Moskowitz holds a BS degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from Harvard. His legal career was spent predominantly as a general counsel, including 11 years as Brandeis’ initial general counsel. This is his 13th BOLLI-led course (26th time leading). With this course he returns to history; his last was an exploration of Prohibition. David encourages dynamic, vibrant class discussions into which he tries to inject humor.

Back To Top

CE2-10-Thu2 Current Events (Section 2)

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Lois Sockol

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description We live in a complex time when what happens in one part of our world affects us all. This dynamism 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.

Course Materials Before class each week, the SGL will send pertinent articles by email, with the topics selected from a variety of newspapers and magazines. The student should also have access to newspapers, news magazines, and web sources.

Preparation Time 1-2 Hours per week

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. 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

LIT5-10-Thu2 Moving from Sympathy to Empathy in Attitudes Toward Neurological Diseases: The Books of Lisa Genova

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Janice Burres

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa Genova writes stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. Her purpose is to be an ambassador for the vulnerable. She introduces her readers to realistic characters who are grappling with some of life’s most difficult medical situations. For example, a world-famous pianist, who has alienated family and friends, learns that he has ALS. Who will be his caretaker(s)? A father has Huntington’s Disease, a genetic disease that his children have a 50% chance of inheriting. Should they take the test that will prepare them for their future? A highly respected professor at the peak of her career has symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s. How does she continue with her life?

We will read three of Lisa Genova’s novels and her latest book, a nonfiction exploration of what constitutes memory, discuss the impact of a neurological disease on the patient, caretaker(s), family and friends, and examine the choices/dilemmas faced by people genetically predisposed to contract these diseases. While exploring our own fears about Alzheimer’s disease, we will increase our knowledge about how memory works. We will watch Genova’s Ted Talks, the movie Still Alice, for which Julianne Moore won a best actress Oscar, and read relevant articles to further expand our knowledge. Perhaps through greater understanding of how people cope with some of life’s most difficult challenges, we will move from sympathy to empathy for the most vulnerable.

Course Materials ​All books are by Lisa Genova and are available on Amazon and at the library. Every Note Played, Still Alice, Inside the O’Briens, and Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting. The movie Still Alice is available at the library or for rent or purchase on various streaming services. Links to Ted Talks, course questions and additional materials will be provided on a Google site.

Preparation Time Preparation Time will be about 160 book pages per week plus a TED Talk and/or article.

Biography Janice double majored in English and education, earned a master’s degree in reading education, and completed the coursework for a master’s in counseling psychology. She taught middle and high school English for twenty years. As a communication specialist at Mckinsey, she traveled around the world training their consultants in writing, public speaking, and group facilitation. Recently, she retired from teaching graduate courses to practicing K-12 teachers.

Back To Top

ECON1-5a-Thu2 Contemporary Issues in Macroeconomics and Finance

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Geof Woglom

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

5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Description This course introduces participants to the economics underlying current public policy issues in macroeconomics and finance. During our sessions we will address questions such as: 1) Where is the macroeconomy headed in the next few months; 3) Why has inflation risen and what can the Fed do about it; 3) Do we need to worry about federal deficits; 4) Are there benefits as well as costs to recent financial innovations such as credit default swaps; 5) Are crypto currencies and their underlying technologies just a fad, or will they be a lasting part of our future? No previous training in economics is necessary.

Course Materials Readings for each class will come from sources such as The New York Times and The Economist and will be made available on a class website.

Preparation Time There will be 2 to 3 short articles per week which should take about 1-2 hours to read.

Biography Geoffrey Woglom is Professor of Economics emeritus at Amherst College where he taught for over 40 years. During his career he has been a consultant at the Federal Reserve Board and the International Monetary fund and held visiting positions at Harvard, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and Nanjing universities. Presently, he is a delegate of the nonprofit, National Economic Education, a nonpartisan organization that promotes understanding of the economics of policy issues in the United States.

Back To Top

REL3-5a-Thu2 Religion and Abortion – A Complicated Relationship

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Michael Woolf

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

5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Description As our society contemplates the end of Roe v. Wade, the news coverage of religious perspectives on abortion is dominated by conservative “pro-life” Christian voices. But did you know that a group of interfaith clergy worked together to connect people in need of an abortion to medical providers in the 1960s? How did the role of religious leaders evolve from helping women in troubled pregnancies to one of prioritizing the rights of the unborn over those of the living? This course is about moving beyond pro-choice/pro-life dichotomies and understanding the fascinating history of religious actors in our abortion debates and how they continue to shape our current discourse. In particular, students will be exposed to non-Christian religious views – including Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu perspectives – and will be introduced to the ways that religious thought leaders have both pioneered and opposed abortion rights and worked out more complicated ideas about the ethics of abortion. If you’re looking for a more nuanced perspective on religion and one of the most pressing social issues of today, this is a course for you.

Course Materials Bad Faith by Randall Balmer and A Complicated Choice by Katey Zeh. Additional materials will be provided on a class website or by email links.

Preparation Time 2-3 hours/week, approximately 100 pages of reading material

Biography The Rev. Dr. Michael Woolf (he/him) holds a Doctor of Theology (ThD) degree from Harvard Divinity School. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee - Knoxville with a BA in Religious Studies in 2011 and completed his Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School in 2014. Michael is also an ordained American Baptist Churches USA and Alliance of Baptists pastor currently serving as the Senior Minister at Lake Street Church of Evanston in Evanston, IL, a progressive congregation with a commitment to social justice and interfaith dialogue.

Back To Top

LIT13-5b-Thu2 When We Cease to Understand the World: The Twisting Path to Scientific Discovery

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Peter Schmidt

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

5 week course - October 20 - November 17

Description Does the provocative title of Benjamín Labatut’s book When We Cease to Understand the World make a statement, ask a question, or leave that to the reader? When did we ever understand the world? And what do we mean by “understand”? Blending fact and fiction, it was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2021, and was shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize. In our journey through it we’ll meet men of science demonstrating their genius and also their all-too-human flaws: the inventor of both a vital fertilizer and a poison gas, the first solver of general relativity equations, mathematicians who chose to withdraw from their own inventive work, and physicists Heisenberg and Schrödinger in the struggle to understand the challenges of quantum mechanics. But, as the author elaborates on their complex stories, there’s more to their lives than their scientific work. To understand them, will we need to untangle fiction from fact, or does the fiction enhance the stories? Let’s find out together.

Course Materials When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamín Labatut (translated by Adrian Nathan West). ISBN-13: ‎978-1681375663. Other materials by email attachments or links to websites.

Preparation Time 1-2 hours per week (from 21 to 45 pages)

Biography Peter Schmidt has given well-received courses in both physics and literature, among them “Quantum Mechanics Without a Wrench” and “Selected Short Stories of Heinrich Böll.” After careers in physics and in machine vision engineering, he joined BOLLI in 2006, and has since led and co-led courses in diverse subjects that included 20th-century classical music and foreign films of the 50s and 60s. He has been a contributor to the BOLLI Journal and is presently a member of the poetry writing SIG.

Back To Top

H&G2-10-Thu3 Islamist Ideology in the Middle East: The Genesis and Development of a Dominant Movement

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Tarek Abu Hussein

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description This course will introduce students to Islamist movements, which emerged over roughly the past 100 years of Middle Eastern history. Islamism, the general conviction that Islam should play a larger role in the governance of a society, continues to pervade the politics of the region, but several aspects of this phenomenon are little understood. We will look at the genesis of Islamist thought beginning with the abolition of the caliphate in 1923 and culminating in various ideological strands, all arising to some degree (with the exception of the Iranian case) from the original genesis of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1930s.

Among the topics we will discuss are the history of the rise of militant Jihadism in Egypt, the view of the West in Islamist thought, the role of women in Islamic movements, and contemporary Muslim attitudes towards Islamism. We will explore the variations of thinking among Islamist writers by reading primary texts. By the end of the course students will be better informed about important questions that are often asked about Islam in contemporary society, such as: Why is it that Islam(ism) plays such a massive role in contemporary, “secular” politics? What factors account for the endemic violence between Islamist movements and the modern state in the Middle East? What development of ideas can be traced within the broader Islamist movement? What variations of thought exist among different authors, parties, geographies, and why?

Course Materials Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought, edited by Roxanne L. Euben and Muhammad Qasim Zaman. Additional readings will be posted on the course site.

Preparation Time 20-30 pages of reading

Biography A native of Beirut, Lebanon, Tarek Abu Hussein is a PhD candidate in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He has taught Islam and Middle East-related courses at various colleges in the New England area, including Harvard, Tufts and Babson. The wide range of courses he has taught (in both geographical and chronological terms), and his passion for teaching and writing on the region more generally, have (happily!) allowed him to go far beyond his main research area, that of late medieval and early modern Islam.

Back To Top

REL2-10-Thu3 An Introduction to Christianity Through Ancient and Modern Sources

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Leah Rumsey

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description About one third of the world’s population practices some form of Christianity. This group of people includes recent converts and people who see their ancestors in the stories of the early church. It includes progressives and conservatives from a variety of political systems. It includes Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and people who think of themselves as Christian, but defy these traditional classifications. It includes people at the end of their lives, newly baptized babies, people of all genders, some of the wealthiest people on earth and some of the poorest and most vulnerable. What, if anything, do all these people have in common in terms of their beliefs and practices? This question is explored through the use of historical documents and modern art, music, and videos. Students will be introduced to Christianity as a tradition that is global, diverse, contested, deeply historical and yet vibrant in modernity. This class is for those who are interested in the study of religion and curious about the history and modern practice of Christianity. No prior knowledge of Christianity is necessary. The course is appropriate for all students irrespective of their religious backgrounds.

Course Materials All materials will be available as links or PDFs on the course site. There are no materials that need to be purchased.

Preparation Time 2-3 hours per week

Biography Leah Rumsey is a doctoral candidate in Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion, where she also serves as the assistant director of undergraduate study. Her dissertation explores Christian religious education in early 20th-century Egypt and she is an ordained Protestant minister. She lives in Central Massachusetts with her husband, a flock of laying hens, and two Narragansett turkeys.

Back To Top

MUS8-10-Thu3 Music Unbound: The Rise of Romanticism

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Roberta Kozinn

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

10 week course - September 15 - November 17

Description Isaiah Berlin called Romanticism “the greatest transformation of Western consciousness in our time.” What socio-political, philosophical, and aesthetic developments generated the wave of Romantic thought that flooded the cultural watersheds of Europe around 1800? How was the very purpose of art and the role of artists in society transformed? And how did music reflect these changes? For centuries music had been closely tied to life’s rituals and institutions: its role was to elevate religious experience, celebrate public milestones, and decorate private occasions. In the Romantic era, liberated from these practical concerns and the constraints of established practices, music became primarily a personal statement for the expression and communication of feelings and the revelation of each composer’s unique imagination. Both the goals and the means of musical expression were significantly altered, reflecting newfound artistic freedom.

Together we will explore works by four first generation Romantic composers, situating them in their broader cultural context. The songs of Schubert and Schumann will reveal the intimate connection between poetry and music, kinship with nature, and sense of longing that are hallmarks of Romanticism. Chopin’s exquisitely crafted piano pieces and Schumann’s impetuous keyboard works will allow us to study the period’s new approaches to harmonic language, tone-color, and virtuosity. We will also investigate the fascinating tension between innovation and tradition as composers transformed the established genres of symphony, sonata and chamber music. Finally, new expressive realms will beckon in the evocative works of Berlioz. Ability to read music is helpful but not required.

Course Materials YouTube performances and students’ own recordings. Biographies, background articles, translations of all vocal texts, theme sheets, explanations of musical terms, and links to full scores will be provided on an extensive course website.

Preparation Time 2-3 hours each week of intensive guided listening to specific works, with occasional supplementary readings.

Biography Roberta Kozinn majored in music at Barnard College and received a master’s degree in musicology from Columbia. For twelve years she led study groups for the Brandeis National Women’s Committee on a wide range of musical subjects including opera, the symphony and 20th century music. Combining her academic training with a desire to communicate her passion for music, she worked for two decades in New York as a publicist for internationally renowned soloists, ensembles and institutions. She has been an avid choral singer since her teens and is a lifelong opera buff.

Back To Top

ART7-5a-Thu3 Looking Together: Art in the Company of Artists, Curators, and Fellow Classmates

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Diane Winkelman

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

5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Description How do creative people, such as artists and curators, look at and think about art? How does this thinking affect the way they make art or organize exhibitions? Can we gain new perspectives on our own journeys as museum goers? This exploration of the visual arts will examine how a variety of creative thinkers experience other artists’ work. By looking at paintings, drawings, sculptures and videos from artists including Florine Settheimer, Howardina Pindell, Grace Hartigan, Mark Bradford, Jackson Pollock, and Cindy Sherman, and then watching video clips in which they are discussed by fellow artists and curators, we will potentially gain new perspectives on approaching art. Each of us comes to a work of art with different life experiences and our own way of looking. We will have an opportunity to hear how our peers are responding when we break into small groups and reunite to share our reactions to specific artworks.

Each class will feature a specific theme: Women Artists, Abstraction and Mid-Century Art Movements, Art in the 21st Century, and The Role of the Curator in Helping Artists to Tell a Story. Our discussions will be based largely on selections from the video collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with additional videos featuring curators from the Tate Museum in London and other museums. The last class will be held at the Rose Art Museum on the Brandeis Campus. Participants will be encouraged to make a brief presentation in class.

Course Materials Videos and readings provided on the class Google Site

Preparation Time Approximately one hour per week

Biography Diane Winkelman is a retired speech language pathologist. Her career has included teaching language development courses at the college level and accent modification therapy with adults. Riding the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan as a teenager was the beginning of an interest in art and museums. She is a lifelong museum “nerd,” happily visiting museums again in a mask, and ready to be immersed in art.

Back To Top

MUS6-5a-Thu3 Songwriter’s Playground: Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Barbara Jordan

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

5 week course - September 15 - October 13

Description Have you ever clapped your hands to a melody or hummed a tune? Then you’re on your way to having an enjoyable time writing a song in the company of other creative folks. No special talent, prior experience, or musical instruments necessary. We’ll generate “hooks” that grab one’s attention and melodic fragments using the time-tested “Songwriters Playground” method the SGL developed at the National Academy of Songwriters in Los Angeles 30 years ago, a method that became one of their most popular workshops and a best-selling songwriting book. Each week, we will sit with our notebooks and old-fashioned pencils and write freehand to prompts sometimes together, sometimes alone.

After 20 minutes of guided writing to icebreaker, wordplay, and music exercises, we will use Zoom breakout rooms and separate into small groups to “collaborate” on a quickly composed ditty. If working alone is your style, that’s ok also. Then, in the last half hour, each group will present its song. You will laugh frequently and most importantly, have fun with your fellow writers, excited to explore their creative side: an experience that Keyboard Magazine called “one of the best tools for unblocking your musical and lyrical creativity.” And don’t worry – you’ll be going up the mountain with an accomplished guide who used these same techniques to write songs for The Sopranos, NCIS and General Hospital!

Course Materials Songwriters Playground - Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting by Barbara L. Jordan. Selected readings on creativity provided by the SGL via web sites or email attachments.

Preparation Time 1-2 hours per week

Biography Barbara L. Jordan holds a BA from Clark University and an MBA in Arts Management from UCLA. She is the founder of Heavy Hitters Music, an Emmy Award-winning publishing company which provides independent songwriting talent to the film, television and advertising industries. Barbara is the author of a popular songwriting book “Songwriters Playground, Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting,” and has taught Songwriting and Lyric Writing at the Berklee College of Music. Her songs have graced the soundtracks of hundreds of television shows and feature films, including such productions as The Sopranos, N.C.I.S., Analyze This and Being John Malkovich.

Back To Top

FILM1-5b-Thu3 The Land Down Under: Understanding Australia Through Film

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Kate Seideman

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

5 week course - October 20 - November 17

Description What can we learn about Australia and Australians from its films? Australia is an English speaking country on the other side of the world. Although small in population relative to its physical size, it is a wealthy, stable and influential democracy close to Asia. But what is the country really like? Who are Australians? In this short course we will explore historical and contemporary perspectives of life in Australia through the lens of iconic Australian films, including Gallipoli, and Rabbit-Proof Fence. Each film will be used to explore Australia from different perspectives of young men, Aboriginals and immigrants. We will use nonfiction material, presented in class and as homework, as a jumping off point to discuss the film and what it reveals about Australians. To allow time for a lively and provocative discussion, films will be viewed for homework. By the end of the course, you should have a better understanding of Australia, Australians and what films can reveal about other cultures. This is a repeat of a course taught in Fall 2021.

Course Materials Films: Gallipoli, Sunday Too Far Away, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Castle, collection of documentaries. All the films are readily accessible on a streaming service and YouTube for free or for a nominal fee. Many are also available through a library network.

Preparation Time Approximately 2-3 hours per week. Each film is 90-120 minutes plus 30 minutes for additional material.

Biography Kate grew up in Melbourne, Australia. She went to college (undergraduate and graduate) in England before moving to America for post-doctoral research. Since coming to Boston she has worked in research or early product development for several large high tech companies addressing issues of collaboration and ease-of-use. She has been a BOLLI member for over 6 years. Kate still has her Australian citizenship, her Australian friends and some of her accent.

Back To Top

LIT6-5b-Thu3 Domesticating Vengeance: Aeschylus’ Oresteia

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Joel Christensen

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

5 week course - October 20 - November 17

Description Aeschylus’ Oresteia is the only full trilogy that remains from ancient Athens. The three plays—Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides—tell the story of the family of Agamemnon as he returns home from the Trojan War to be murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra. His daughter, Electra, and son, Orestes, plot to avenge Agamemnon’s death, which Orestes does. These plays were performed at the beginning of the rise of Athens’ empire and served to help articulate a view of the city’s place in history and ethics. Aeschylus’ trilogy represents a significant moment in the history of Greek drama, the development of tragedy as a genre, and the evolution of Greek literature.

This course will allow us to discuss the myths, history, and context that give shape to the Oresteia in addition to considering the development of the genre of tragedy and the performance of these plays over time. In particular, we will consider the importance of how these plays function in their political context to offer the development of trial by jury as a way to negotiate the space between justice and vengeance.

Course Materials Aeschylus, Oresteia. Peter Meineck, translator. Introduction by Helene Foley. Hackett, 1998. 978-0872203907

Preparation Time 1-2 hours per week

Biography Joel Christensen (he/his) is Professor and Chair of Classical Studies at Brandeis University. In addition to articles on language, myth and literature in the Homeric epics, he has published a Beginner’s Guide to Homer (One World, 2013) and Homer’s Thebes (CHS, 2019) with Elton T. E. Barker as well as A Commentary on the Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice (Bloomsbury, 2018) with Erik Robinson. He has recently published The Many-Minded Man: The Odyssey, Psychology, and the Therapy of Epic with Cornell University Press.

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.