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Spring 2021 Course Schedule | Tuesday

 All Spring 2021 courses will take place online.

Click here to view a PDF version of the Spring 2021 Course Catalog. 

Click here to sort the course list by day of the week, class period, topic or duration.

Spring 2021 courses will begin the week of March 1 and run through the week of May 17, with a break the week of March 29. 10 week courses will meet socially during the week of April 19. 5b courses will meet as usual the week of April 19. 5a courses will begin the week of March 1 and end the week of April 5. 5b courses will begin the week of April 12 and end the week of May 10. Click here for the spring 2021 schedule.

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

All times are EST. 





Time Class

Period 1
9:30 am to 10:55 am

Telling the Story: Focusing on the Craft of Narrative Prose
Betsy Campbell
5 week course - March 2 - April 6

Plagues, Pestilence, and Progress: A Unique Perspective
Estherann Grace

The Rest is Noise: Alex Ross Rewrites the Story of 20th Century Music
Matthew Heck

Ready to Take the Plunge? It’s Time to Lead Your First Study Group!
Quinn Rosefsky and Ollie Curme

The Shirt Off Your Back: The History and Cultural Meaning of Textiles
Sandy Bornstein


A Seat at the Table: Lunch, Life, and Literature at the Algonquin
Sue Wurster
5 week course - April 13 - May 11

Period 2
11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Writing Without the Muse: A Memoir Writing Course (Section 1)
Marjorie Roemer


A.S. Byatt's Possession: A Romance and Mystery Across the Borders of Time
Diane Proctor


Presidential Leadership, Presidential Power in America's Wars: 1812 through Vietnam
Fred Kobrick
More Luminaries of the Art World
Suzanne Art

Climate Action from A Green New Deal to Building Back Better: What Can the U.S. Learn from Europe?
Sabine von Mering
5 week course - April 13 - May 11

The American Political Tradition: From Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump (1860 to the Present)
Avi Bernstein and Jeremy Cynamon
*Equivalent of 2 10-week courses

12:35 pm to 2:00 pm


Period 3
2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

The Government of the United States: Form and Function – Its Origins and Does It Still Work?
Saul Schapiro

Jazz On the Big Screen: Exploring the Relationship Between Jazz and Film
James Heazlewood-Dale


From Worth to Westwood: The Evolution of Fashion
Lisa DeBenedictis
5 week course - March 2 - April 6


Searching for Shakespeare: Discovering the Man Behind the Plays
Bruce Parks


A Life of Purpose in 20th-Century Russia
Fran Feldman
5 week course - April 13 - May 11



 H&G3-10-Tue1  The Shirt Off Your Back:  The History and Cultural Meaning of Textiles

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Sandy Bornstein

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   Why was purple reserved for royalty?  Did you know that silk was used as money?  And that the secrets of how to make it were sneaked out of China by industrial espionage?  That the Industrial Revolution came about because of the need for better ways to manufacture cotton?  Or that the modern fashion industry is one of the world’s worst polluters? Anything made of fibers woven together in some way is a textile.  We are surrounded by so many of them that we give them no thought.  Clothing and carpets of course, but also sails, backpacks, ropes, yurts and even baskets and paper are classified as textiles.  The original industry in all cultures from prehistoric times onward was the making of textiles.  Producing them was a matter of life and death, and both the methods and the production were attributed to women. This course will look at what textiles are made of, how they are manufactured and how they are used.  We will examine their meanings within each culture, and how they have influenced society.   Once we are done exploring all of these questions and more, you will know what your carpet is made of, where it was produced, who made it, how much work went into it, and what ancient traditions it represents.

Readings  Women's Work: The first 20,000 Years, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber  ($18.95 in paperback on Amazon) and The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History, by Kassia St. Clair  (about $20.00).

Preparation Time   75-100 pages per week.  Up to 2 hours.   

Biography   Sandy Bornstein has always been interested in how things work, and who invented them, perhaps because her father was a mechanical engineer.  So the recent publication of a new book on textiles piqued her curiosity and generated the idea for a course about them.  In her professional life Sandy was Cantorial Soloist and choir director at Temple Isaiah in Lexington for 20 years.  She was also a professional soprano appearing in oratorio and recital performances throughout New England and taught voice for 25 years at Harvard University, the Cambridge School of Adult Education and in her home studio.

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 WRI1-5a-Tue1  Telling the Story: Focusing on the Craft of Narrative Prose

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Betsy Campbell

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

5 week course - March 2 - April 6

(No class March 30)

Description   Do you yearn to write a memoir for your family? Are you working on a novel? Or, do you want to try flash fiction? Whatever your aim or experience, the goal is to tell a story that will entertain and enlighten the reader. In this class, we will write from prompts that focus on specific elements of narrative prose, such as: point of view, dialogue or characterization, with attention also on style and structure. Each week, participants will write a story (fiction or nonfiction) of about 500 words and will share the piece in class. Critical feedback will be specific and supportive, keeping the focus on the writing. The goal of our class is to encourage writers, whatever their expertise, to learn from one another, and to enjoy sharing our stories. 

Readings   Flash Fiction edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas and Tom Hazuka ISBN 0393308839.

Preparation Time   Each participant is expected to write a short piece of about 500 words each week.   

Biography   Betsy Campbell has always enjoyed writing and working with aspiring writers of all ages. She began her career as a high school English teacher and later spent twenty-five years teaching kindergarten and first Grade. She has led writing workshops for teachers and has taught at BOLLI since 2014. She has published articles and stories in newspapers, magazines and various collections of short fiction. Betsy’s undergraduate degree is from Brown University, and she has Masters degrees from Harvard and Lesley University.

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 EDU1-10-Tue1  Ready to Take the Plunge?  It’s Time to Lead Your First Study Group!

Study Group Leaders (SGLs) – Quinn Rosefsky and Ollie Curme

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   Some have said that leading a study group at BOLLI is one of the most satisfying things that they have done.  The experience is exhilarating, the sense of shared accomplishment and camaraderie is extremely rewarding.  So why don’t more people lead study groups?  We all have doubts: What if the topic is not interesting?  How can I organize the course?  How can I manage the class?  Well, put those doubts to rest.  This study group will walk you through all the steps required to prepare and lead a terrific course, and we will do it together, in a collaborative, supportive group with two experienced study group leaders and SGL guest speakers. We will look at what makes a great course, help you focus on a great topic, find sources, plan a syllabus, practice class leadership, build a website and even master Zoom.  By the end of the semester your course proposal will be polished, and you will be ready for an exciting new experience at BOLLI.  Note: Registration for "Ready to Take the Plunge? It's Time to Lead Your First Study Group!" runs from January 11 through January 29. Registration for this course will not impact your study group assignments -- you continue to be eligible for the equivalent of two 10-week BOLLI courses in addition to this selection.

Readings   No books required. All information is posted on course website: www.TakingthePlunge.education   

Preparation Time   About 2 hours   

Biography   Quinn Rosefsky is a retired psychiatrist who spent the final years of his career working with Native Americans. In retirement, he enjoys archaeology, creative writing and watercolor. The nine BOLLI courses Quinn has led or co-led over the past eight years have taught him that course development is both satisfying and fun.

Ollie Curme has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and an MBA. He has been retired since 2005 and has led numerous study groups in adult learning programs; this will be his third year of teaching at BOLLI. Ollie is a member of BOLLI’s Study Group Support Committee.

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 MUS4-10-Tue1  The Rest is Noise: Alex Ross Rewrites the Story of 20th Century Music 

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Matthew Heck

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   Are you baffled by 20th century classical music but interested in exploring it through the insights of one of our leading musical thinkers? This selective survey explores this music through the acclaimed book The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross, The New Yorker’s influential music critic. Traditional histories of 20th-century music tend to follow a narrow path, tracing the ascendency of serial technique from its origins in Schoenberg’s twelve tone music to its dominance in Western compositional thought. Ross critiques this hegemony, arguing for a far more diverse look at the century’s music, one informed as much by historical and sociological context as by stylistic analysis. Our reading and discussion of this thought-provoking book will provide a fresh approach to the complex world of 20th-century music.  

Each class will feature a short contextualizing lecture, discussion on the reading, and in-depth analyses of representative musical works.  Included will be such compositions as R.Strauss’s Salome, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and Weill’s Threepenny Opera, as well as music by Mahler, Debussy, Schoenberg, Bartok and Shostakovich.  Lectures will contrast elements from the “traditional” narrative with Ross’s progressive and pluralistic view. Intersections between popular music, jazz and concert music will be explored.  By the end of this course we will have defined his rewriting of the trajectory of 20th-century music, assessed the cultural politics and implications of that view, and created a prism through which to understand both the music and its context in fresher ways.  Music background helpful but not required.

Readings   Alex Ross’s book The Rest is Noise. Selected videos and recordings suggested by SGL. 

Preparation Time   30-50 pgs of reading; 1-3 hours of listening.   

Biography   Matthew Heck is a PhD candidate in musicology at Brandeis University writing a dissertation that situates Dmitri Shostakovich’s harmonic-contrapuntal language within Russian theoretical writings of the twentieth century and the history of Russian ideas. His interests extend beyond Russian music, however and his class Love is the Message: Dance Musics and Their Cultures from Disco to Dubstep won a University Prize Instructorship award at Brandeis. Matthew is also a violinist and member of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. 

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 SCI3-10-Tue1  Plagues, Pestilence, and Progress: A Unique Perspective

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Estherann Grace

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   Civilization has been shaped by the great plagues.  This course will examine how plagues and pestilence influenced politics, economics, literature, art and religion.  The identification of the plagues’ causative agents, clinical manifestations (signs and symptoms of the disease), and eventual treatments and recovery or death, will be addressed.  The course’s main emphasis, however, remains the examination of how the great plagues impacted the world their victims occupied. The Black Death (Bubonic plague), smallpox, influenza, and AIDS are featured, spanning the period of time from the 14th to the 21st centuries.  Despite the potential for gruesome detail, we will stress the positive gains achieved through the diligent search for treatments, cures, and eradication, ensuring humanity’s survival.  You will have the opportunity to encounter women and men whose scientific ingenuity achieved these goals.  The format of the course will be factual presentations, coupled with enthusiastic, lively, and amazing awareness of how humanity managed to survive.  We are a determined species!

Readings   The SGL will distribute readings and assign brief topic-specific reports.  Books that can serve as optional sources for the course will be included in the welcome letter.    

Preparation Time   Individually determined by the participants’ interest in the topics details.   

Biography   Estherann Grace spent her professional career at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital (Clinical Chief of Adolescent Medicine, Emeritus). Her students included interns, residents, fellows, and Harvard Medical School students.  The best and brightest can be both a blessing and a challenge.  Guiding the students through their years of training provided a well- grounded appreciation of how adults learn.  This course combines her medical expertise with a fascination of human nature and its response to adversity. Widowed, a mother of 2, and grammy of 2, she lives in Needham with Tommy, her golden retriever.

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 H&G17-5b-Tue1  A Seat at the Table: Lunch, Life, and Literature at the Algonquin

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Sue Wurster

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

5 week course - April 13 - May 11 

Description   The 1920s were tumultuous times in the U.S. We had survived a World War, and young people, in particular, were making the most of simply being alive. Social restrictions as well as women’s hemlines were lifted in a decade that truly did “roar.” All over the world, economic, political, and social changes were taking place—and in the arts, those changes were dramatic. In Paris, Diaghilev founded the itinerant Ballet Russes, and Gertrude Stein’s salons featured both modernists and a “Lost Generation” of fellow ex-patriots while, in London, the Bloomsbury Group became a literary force. In this country, we witnessed a Harlem Renaissance—and the Algonquin Round Table. 

     In this course, we will focus on the latter, also known as “The Vicious Circle.” This group of bright, talented, and ambitious artists included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Robert Sherwood, George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, and more. They produced novels, plays, poetry, and short stories, winning, among them, eight Pulitzer prizes. But perhaps their longest lasting and most important contribution to our world of letters remains the establishment of none other than The New Yorker magazine. We will look at the time in which this group gathered for lunch every day for a decade as well as the members of the group and some of their work in an effort to determine how the Algonquin Round Table has come to refer not only to a group and a place but also an era and a sensibility.

Readings   The Lost Algonquin Round Table, Edited by Nat Benchley and Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, iUniverse, Inc. 2009.  ($18.95, Amazon). The Royal Family, George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, acting edition available from concordtheatricals.com ($9.95 – also available in large print for $17.95). Additional reading/viewing materials will be available on the course’s Google site.

Preparation Time   Approximately 60-90 minutes of reading/viewing per week.   

Biography   With B.S./M.A. degrees in Theatre & Communications from Ohio University, Sue Wurster taught at St. Cloud State University (MN), Elizabeth Seton College (NY), the Chapin and Calhoun schools (NYC), and Nashoba Brooks School (Concord).  She received fellowships in speech, theatre, and writing from Northwestern, NYC’s New Actors’ Workshop, Bank Street College, Harvard, and Columbia. Sue served on the executive board of the American Alliance for Theatre in Education, as director of the New York State Forensic League, and as co-founding chair of the Massachusetts Middle School Speech League.  She is often referred to as “Wurster, the Wily Word Woman.”

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 H&G2-10-TuTh2  The American Political Tradition:  From Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump (1860 to the Present)

Study Group Leaders (SGLs) - Avi Bernstein and Jeremy Cynamon

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

*Equivalent of two 10-week courses.

Tuesdays - March 2 - May 18

Thursdays - March 4 - May 20

(No class March 30 or April 1)

Description   The U.S. presidential election of 2016 exposed a long-simmering public divide over who should lead our country and what values we stand for as a nation. This course will try to understand our current political moment through a lens provided by historian Jill Lepore and her book, These Truths: A History of the United States. Lepore, echoing political scientists like Francis Fukuyama and Mark Lilla, laments the absence of an American civic identity, especially across boundaries of race, religion, geography, sexual orientation, and party affiliation. Among the most fateful questions of our moment, Lepore suggests, is whether we can respond to the crisis of our union by reviving our civic past, a collective inheritance she earnestly regards as a gift from our political forebears and a precious legacy to future generations. Does Lepore, the judicious historian, offer a story equal to our crisis and faithful to both progressive and conservative American themes? Are we as citizens willing to put in the time to uncover this legacy in its specificity and debate its meaning with each other?  And can the American past -- the one with all the warts and blemishes -- deliver the story that Lepore takes to be lodged there?  Every generation must discover its political story, but not every generation is called upon to retrieve it under dire circumstances.  Lepore’s lens is an invitation to renew our commitment to study and to discourse:  turn your gaze toward the American past, she seems to say, and there you will find a conversation partner. This course will combine periodic lecture and moderated class discussion. 

Note: This course will meet twice a week -- one session devoted to the historical context for the week, one session devoted to discussing the primary sources referred to in Lepore’s narrative. This course is considered a full BOLLI course load. If you get this course in the lottery, you will not get any other course. You may be able to get a “third course” if there is space after the lottery.

Readings   These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore (Norton, 2018). Primary sources will be made available by the SGL. Prerequisite:  Any BOLLI member may enroll in this course and there is no prerequisite.  However, please note that this course will begin reading in Lepore’s text at Part III.  It is recommended that you read Parts I & II in advance of the start of the course.

Preparation Time   5 hours/week.

Biography   Avi Bernstein is the Director of BOLLI.  He has led several versions of this course in past BOLLI terms.  

Jeremy Kingston Cynamon is a PhD candidate in politics specializing in political theory at Brandeis University. He is also the inaugural BOLLI Graduate Fellow in American Political Tradition. His research interests include normative political theory, social theory, institutional design and public policy. During his time at Brandeis, Jeremy has served as a teaching fellow for various courses in political theory and public policy. He holds a BA (honors) in political science from U.C. Berkeley where he studied political and social theory.

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 SOC11-5b-Tues2  Climate Action from A Green New Deal to Building Back Better: What Can the US Learn from Europe?

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Sabine von Mering

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

5 week course - April 13 - May 11

Description: In September 2020, Massachusetts voters re-elected Senator Ed Markey over challenger Joe Kennedy, and it wasn’t even close. One major force behind Markey: the climate movement.  Hundreds of young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement had occupied Nancy Pelosi’s office in December 2019 demanding a Green New Deal (GND). Markey and AOC responded in February 2020 with the GND resolution. While there had been hardly any attention on climate during the 2016 presidential campaign, major 2020 Democratic party contenders embraced versions of the GND, and questions about climate change were raised in every debate. Joe Biden was careful to distinguish his “Build Back Better” proposals from the more ambitious ones by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but based on the early days of his administration, climate activists are right to be cautiously optimistic. Under Biden’s leadership, will the US pass serious comprehensive climate legislation?  What should it contain? In this seminar we will take a look at European climate action and what the US can learn from it.

Reading: All reading materials will be made available online.

Preparation Time: 2-3 hours per week.

Bio: Sabine von Mering, PhD grew up on the (car-free!) North Sea island of Langeoog, Germany. She is Professor of German and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, affiliated faculty with the Environmental Studies Program, and Director of the Center for German and European Studies (CGES) at Brandeis University. She co-edited International Green Politics (2002) and Right-Wing Radicalism Today: Perspectives from Europe and the US (Routledge, 2013) and is currently working on a project about Germany’s fight against climate change. She is also the volunteer co-coordinator of the statewide steering team of the Massachusetts climate movement 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future.

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 ART3-10-Tue2  More Luminaries of the Art World

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Suzanne Art

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30) 

Description   We will study the lives and works of John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, and David Hockney. Each of these artists is recognized as a master in the art world of his or her time. Sargent was a virtuoso of the traditional approach to oil painting embraced by the famous École des Beaux Arts in Paris, but his spontaneous brushstrokes and alla prima technique added a modern flair to his portraits. Georgia O’Keeffe was at heart an abstract painter, who forged a unique style that blended realism with fantasy. Edward Hopper studied art with Robert Henri, but he turned away from the credo of the evolving Ashcan School to depict scenes of American life that reflected his more introverted view of the world. Andrew Wyeth, son of acclaimed illustrator N.C. Wyeth, mastered the mediums of tempera and drybrush to paint in nearly photographic detail the ordinary people and landscapes of Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania and Cushing, Maine. Yet, there is a surrealistic side to his paintings. David Hockney participated in the Pop Movement of the 1960’s, then moved off in a multitude of new directions. Now 83, he continues to explore new vistas in a variety of mediums. In this course, we will analyze the major works of these artists and discover how they reflect and/or respond to the trending art movements of their times. There will be a combination of presentation and class discussion.

Readings   All assignments will be online. These will include short biographies and articles about specific art movements as well as videos focusing upon individual works of art. 

Preparation Time   Weekly class preparation is about an hour and a half.   

Biography   Suzanne has always loved art and history. Her favorite pastime is “experiencing” the paintings in art museums. She has a BA in history, an MA in the French language and literature, and an MA in teaching. She taught history for 16 years at a private school. During that time, she also wrote a series of twelve history books, a major feature of which is the study of the art of a given culture. She has taught nine art history courses at BOLLI. This course was first taught in the fall of 2020.

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 H&G9-10-Tue2  Presidential Leadership, Presidential Power in America's Wars: 1812 through Vietnam

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Fred Kobrick

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   Wars have shaped much of American History and who we became as a nation, as have the leadership qualities and key decisions of presidents who brought us into those wars and managed them. Historians say most or all great presidents were made great by handling war well.  The Founding Fathers felt that England and European monarchs had abused their absolute power by starting wars to increase their power and esteem. Thus, in 1787, our Founding Fathers gave the American Congress the sole authority to declare war.  Even so, over time, presidents have usurped more and more of that congressional authority.  Congressman Abraham Lincoln in 1848, wrote a friend that no one man should have the power to send us into war.  Yet, he became our most powerful war president.  A top historian said that Lincoln went into war knowing less than a private, but ended up creating the definition of commander-in-chief that is still used today. Research illuminates how wars have often defined the relationship between presidents and Congress, and how we can judge who are the best presidents of war, and why.  We will compare different presidents in key respects, such as Truman vs. FDR in preparing the American people for great struggles, or Polk dismissing the concerns of Congress over his undeclared war with Mexico, vs. how Lyndon Johnson managed major escalations of the Vietnam War.  We will study the war presidents from the War of 1812 through Vietnam, and consider and discuss the evolution of presidential power.

Readings   Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss. Paperback, ISBN 978-0-307-4096-4.

Preparation Time   2.5 hours, about 59 pages per week.

Biography   Fred Kobrick managed one of the top 5 mutual funds in the country for 15 years.  He has a BA in economics from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  Fred taught in 2 graduate programs at Boston University.  He then led many BOLLI classes, including Great Companies, from a book he authored, Cotton, Capitalism, and Globalization, several courses on China and foreign policy, The Life and Times of Cornelius Vanderbilt-first tycoon, and Manifest Destiny, the conquest of the American West.

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 LIT12-10-Tue2  A.S. Byatt's Possession: A Romance and Mystery Across the Borders of Time

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Diane Proctor 

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   In a brilliant tour de force, A.S. Byatt created a novel—Possession—that is at once an intellectual mystery and a romance. Set in both the 20th century and Victorian England, the novel involves two modern scholars researching the unexplored and possibly significant relationship between two Victorian poets; of course, each is imaginary, but the ring of authenticity resounds. We will examine the concept of historical metafiction in the parallel stories: one modern day and one uncovered in the archives of two fictional poets.  While reading this together, we will explore the varied narrative voices, epistolary styles, and philosophical discourse embedded in the prose. Finally, we will consider why Byatt won the Booker prize for Possession in 1990. Her novel is replete with wit, original poetry, imagination, and philosophy and will provide rich and lively discussions.

Readings   Possession by A.S.Byatt ISBN-10 : 0679735909.  

Preparation Time   We will read around 50 pages a week (sometimes a bit more).   

Biography   Diane Proctor has enjoyed offering courses at BOLLI and other Learning in Retirement programs for seven years. She taught writing, history, and literature at Milton Academy, the Hotchkiss School, and Middlesex School.

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 WRI2-10-Tue2  Writing Without the Muse: A Memoir Writing Course (Section 1)

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Marjorie Roemer

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   “. . acknowledging and respecting a person’s life story is ultimately as important as the provision of food or shelter or medication.” from Storying Later Life.

This will be the nineteenth iteration of this course on memoir writing.  This semester we will be offering two sections, one led by Marjorie Roemer and one led by Linda Wolfson. 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 materials you are working with.  They try to focus us on the concrete, the dramatized, the immediate.  For this semester’s prompts we will use Beth Baruch Joselow’s Writing Without the Muse. Our work together is to encourage and support the efforts of each member of the group.  To that end, 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 always praise the power of the group, the value of hearing one another’s work, and the warm responses offered by class members.

Readings   Joselow, Beth Baruch.  Writing Without the Muse: 60 Beginning Exercises for the Creative Writer. New and Revised Edition, 1999. ( ISBN 1885266731).

Preparation Time   We write 500 words.  That might take a half hour or days.   

Biography   Marjorie Roemer holds a BA from Bennington College, an MA from New York University, and a PhD from Brandeis, all in English and American literature.  Her teaching career began in New York City in a public junior high school.   It has since taken her to Brookline HS, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Cincinnati, and finally Rhode Island College, where she is a full professor emerita.  She has worked as the Director of Writing Programs and the Director of the Rhode Island Writing Project.

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 LIT11-10-Tue3  Searching for Shakespeare:  Discovering the Man Behind the Plays

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Bruce Parks

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   We all know about Shakespeare’s plays but we know very little of Shakespeare, the man himself. We will endeavor to glean a picture of Shakespeare by reading a selection of his plays and poems in conjunction with reading the biography Shakespeare by Anthony Burgess, the author and acclaimed Shakespearean scholar. We will read four plays in total: one history, one comedy, one tragedy and one romance; plus about twenty of his sonnets, and mine these to see what we can learn about Shakespeare. The class will entail some detective work and lots of imagination. Our reading will also be occasionally augmented by listening to excerpts from the lectures on Shakespeare’s life Burgess recorded in 1973 at the City College of New York, which will also be available on the class webpage.

Readings   The following four of his plays (available in collections or individually): Henry IV, Pt.1; The Merchant of Venice; Hamlet; and The Tempest. The Sonnets (Links to the sonnets will be provided). Anthony Burgess’ Shakespeare.(Available used on Amazon or Abesbooks).

Preparation Time   2-3 hours per week, or enough time to read one play every two weeks, plus 25-50 pages per week from Burgess’ biography Shakespeare.   

Biography   Bruce Parks received a BSME in Mechanical Engineering and a BA in English from the City College of the City University of New York (CCNY). At CCNY Bruce studied with Anthony Burgess, taking classes with him in writing, Joyce and Shakespeare. Bruce has taught classes on Ulysses and James Joyce at BOLLI. Bruce enjoyed a successful career in engineering, and now spends his time reading and writing, as well as taking classes at BOLLI.

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 SOC2-5a-Tue3  From Worth to Westwood: The Evolution of Fashion

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Lisa DeBenedictis 

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

5 week course - March 2 - April 6

(No class March 30)

Description   This course will trace the history of fashion by exploring the work of specific designers whose impact and influence on the industry have remained relevant over the years, extending to today.  This course will cover the establishment of haute couture in the 19th century; the 20th-century relaxation of the female silhouette and “modern” style; and the relationship between fashion and art, fashion as art, and sculptural design.  Concluding with an exploration of deconstructionist design, we will consider what is socially and culturally deemed “beautiful” or “acceptable” and what role fashion plays in including or excluding someone based on these norms.  We will focus on designers including Worth, Poiret, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Miyake, and Westwood, among others.  Throughout the course, we will consider social and cultural shifts contemporaneous with the design changes, including the ways fashion reflects perspectives on gender.  This course will be primarily discussion-based, with readings and resources drawn from sources including articles and online museum collections.  Each week will highlight a particular designer, along with contemporaries and/or examples of designers later on the timeline of fashion history who were influenced by their work.

Readings   The SGL will provide readings and resources. 

Preparation Time   Roughly 1 hour/week.

Biography   Lisa DeBenedictis is Program Director in the Office of Precollege Programs at the Rabb School at Brandeis University.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s degree in Education, both from Harvard University, and a Certificate in Fashion Design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  In addition to this course, Lisa has also taught “Fashion and Film in Early 20th-Century America” at BOLLI.

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 H&G7-5b-Tue3  A Life of Purpose in 20th-Century Russia

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Fran Feldman

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

5 week course - April 13 - May 11

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   Fran Feldman, passionate about government and history, 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 to the Boston area, she worked as an administrator/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,” “The Reluctant Ally,” and “Four Portraits of Leadership.”

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 MUS3-10-Tue3  Jazz On the Big Screen: Exploring the Relationship Between Jazz and Film

Study Group Leader (SGL) – James Heazlewood-Dale

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30) 

Description   This 10-week course will investigate the interaction between the sonic art form of jazz and the visual art form of the cinema. The two great American art forms run parallel in their evolution throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. When these two mediums of popular entertainment intersect, jazz transcends beyond the dance halls, concert halls, clubs and late night jam sessions. You will develop an understanding of how film music is an essential part of immersing the viewer into the narrative, characters, locations, time, and drama of the motion picture. Directors and composers throughout moving picture history have utilized jazz styles in a wide variety of cinematic contexts.  This diversity is reflected in the choice of films we will be exploring, which range from: Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud (1958), score by Miles Davis; the lovable community of swinging cats in Disney’s The Aristocats (1970); and Clint Eastwood’s acclaimed biopic, The Bird (1988). By looking at the works of composers such as Duke Ellington, Johnny Mandel, John Lewis, George Burns, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, this course aims to address the question: how can jazz music enhance the cinematic experience? Note: No prior knowledge of musical theory or film studies is required to take the course as any theories or concepts will be explained and discussed as the course progresses.

Readings   The SGL will send weekly emails containing the readings in PDF format, and YouTube links of the relevant videos and audio recordings. Participants will not be required to watch the films in their entirety. 

Preparation Time   45 mins - 1.5 hours/week.

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 and New England Conservatory on full scholarships. James is currently a PhD candidate at Brandeis University in musicology focusing on the relationship between jazz and multimedia. James has been a study group leader for numerous BOLLI courses including All That Jazz, The Beatles, and Protest Music of the 1960’s.

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 H&G13-10-Tue3  The Government of the United States: Form and Function – Its Origins and Does It Still Work? 

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Saul Schapiro

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

10 week course - March 2 - May 18

(No class March 30)

Description   The 2020 Presidential election and COVID-19 crisis have focused public attention on the peculiarities of American democracy, specifically: the electoral college; the structure of the Senate; the role of political parties; the size of the Supreme Court; confirming of presidential appointees; the separation of powers and division of political power between the nation and the states, majority rule vs. minority power; the role of agencies like the CDC and the FDA. Our system is based in part on constitutional or statutory requirements, and also traditions and norms. This course will explore what function these institutions were initially designed to serve, how they have evolved, and whether they still serve a meaningful purpose. Alternatively, have one or more of these institutions become an impediment to the functioning of our democracy?  If there is a need for change, what might that change be and how might it come about? We will read primarily original sources, including the Declaration of Independence, provisions of the Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, and major statutory provisions. The class will emphasize group discussion. It will ask the participants to re-examine their own beliefs (conscious and unexamined) about our history, the American ideology and/or mythology and our democratic institutions. Its ultimate purpose is to assist in meeting the challenges before us as a functioning democracy in a complex and rapidly changing globalized world.

Readings   Primary sources and documents will be made available online by the SGL. The bulk of class time will be spent on guided discussion of the issues presented by these materials.   

Preparation Time   1 to 2 hours per week. 

Biography   Saul Schapiro is a graduate of City College of New York and Harvard Law School. He practiced law for more than 40 years having extensive experience in the intersection of the private sector and government, serving among others, as outside litigation counsel to the Boston Redevelopment Authority and General Counsel to the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust.  Schapiro has taught courses at BOLLI dealing with race relations in the US and the Supreme Court from 1772 to the present. His interest post retirement is in the intersection of government, politics, economics, and the law.

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