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Fall 2022 Course Schedule | Tuesday

All classes will be on Zoom unless otherwise marked.

Click here to view the Fall 2022 Course Catalog. 

Click here to 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. Click here for 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


Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Time Class

Period 1
9:30 am to 10:55 am

Ukraine as Borderland: Its Complex History and the Voices of Its Writers
Marina Cunningham
Please note that this course will take place in-person at 60 Turner Street.

 

Conversos: Keeping a Secret Jewish Identity During the Inquisition
Sandy Sherizen

 

H&G10-10-Tue1
The Rise of China: Politics, the Party & Global Power
Scott McKnight 


H&G15-10-Tue1
The Pivotal Role of the Supreme Court at Inflection Points in American Life
Saul Shapiro



SOC2-5b-Tue1
Cultures as Seen Through African and Oceanic Masks and Masquerades
Jennifer Coplon
5 week course - October 25 - November 29 (No class November 22)

Period 2
11:10 am to 12:35 pm


Radicals in Victorian Art: From Turner to Art Nouveau
Suzanne Art

Fragility of Democracy: The Rise of the Nazis and its Lessons for Today
Jan Darsa

 

Did the Best "Man" Win? Those Who Would be President
Steve Messinger
Please note that this course will be hybrid. There will be the option to participate via Zoom or in person at 60 Turner Street.

MUS5-10-Tue2
John Williams: The Maestro of the Cinema
James Heazlewood-Dale

The Novelist as Artist: Two Books by John Banville
Diane Proctor

 

Advanced Memoir Writing: Picturing Your Life
Marjorie Roemer and Donna Johns

12:35 pm to 2:00 pm

Break 

Period 3
2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

China vs. America: Can They Get Along in Today’s World?
Fred Kobrick

My Kid Could Do That: Understanding Abstract Art
Emily Leifer

Understanding Shakespeare Like an Elizabethan: Four Plays in Their Time
Miranda Peery

 

Meet a Marsh: The Wondrous World of Wetlands
Matt Kamm
5 week course - September 13 - October 18
(No class September 27)
Adjusted time: 1:30 - 3:30pm
*Please note that this course requires travel to selected sites and outdoor meetings. You are responsible for providing your own transportation. The three outdoor sessions will each be 2 hours long. This course consists of a combination of site visits and Zoom sessions. Sessions of this course may be postponed due to weather. The SGL will work with the class to schedule make up sessions.

 

H&G7-5a-Tue3 
The Presidency of Harry S. Truman: The Lore, the Leadership, the Legacy
Fran Feldman
5 week course - September 13 - October 18
(No class September 27)

DRA1-5b-Tue3 
Page to Stage: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson
Steven Bloom
5 week course - October 25 - November 29
(No class November 22)
Please note that this course will take place in-person at 60 Turner Street.
 

MUS9-5b-Tue3  
Brian Eno: Alchemist of Sound
Ken Macklin
5 week course - October 25 - November 29
(No class November 22)

 

LIT7-10-Tue1  Ukraine as Borderland: Its Complex History and the Voices of Its Writers

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Marina Cunningham

Please note that this course will take place in-person at 60 Turner Street. If warranted by changing health circumstances, in-person courses may be moved online. We will make every effort to deliver in-person courses, but your safety is our top priority.  

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   Ukraine’s geographical location bordering six countries has produced a complex legacy of invasion, foreign domination, mixed loyalties, violence, pogroms, civil war, famine, and rebellion.  Despite its large size, Ukraine was never considered a separate nation until its independence in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since its inception in the 11th Century in what is now known as Ukraine, the land has been ruled by other nations. From the 18th Century on, it was geographically absorbed by Russia and Poland, and its language and culture were Russified and Polonized. Ukraine’s quest for its own governance and Russia’s refusal to acknowledge its autonomy is the overarching reason for the present conflict between the two countries.

Under Russian/Soviet rule, the Ukrainian language, considered inferior and “uneducated” by Russia, was suppressed. Ukrainian writers were forbidden to publish in Ukrainian, and Ukrainian accomplishments in other fields were deemed Russian. For a deeper understanding of Ukraine through its literature, this course will incorporate the reading of stories, poems, and sketches set in Ukraine by several past and current writers and poets. They include Nikolai Gogol, Isaac Babel, Mikhail Bulgakov, Taras Shevchenko, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Svetlana Alexievich, Yevgenia Belorusets, and Artem Chapeye. Our source for the historical background will be Borderland, A Journey through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid.

Course Materials   Required books (available in paperback on Amazon): Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine, by Anna Reid, New York: Basic Press (2015) and Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets, New York: New Directions Books (2018). Stories and other pertinent material will either be posted on the Google Site, available online, or distributed online by the SGL. 

Preparation Time   Readings will range between 80-100 pages a week. Additional biographical or analytical articles may be included for some classes. In order to fully participate in the discussions, it is strongly suggested that class members read all the assigned material before the class sessions.

Biography   Marina Cunningham holds a PhD in Slavic languages and literature from Northwestern University. She taught at Northwestern, William Paterson, and Montclair State Universities, and for 20 years she was the chief international officer at Montclair State. She was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship to Germany, International Institute of Education-SRF Beacon Award, Hungarian Order of Merit, and the USIA/State Department Partnership Grant with Kirovograd State University, Ukraine. She has traveled extensively in Ukraine, Russia, and many other countries. Marina has native fluency in Russian and Spanish, as well as reading and comprehension in Ukrainian and French.

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H&G16-10-Tue1   Conversos: Keeping a Secret Jewish Identity During the Inquisition

 Study Group Leader (SGL) – Sandy Sherizen 

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22) 

Description   Let us enter the fascinating and tragic world of the Spanish and other Inquisitions and their impact on a significant Jewish population. This is a story of a quest for religious hegemony by the Spanish monarchy, major changes in the Roman Catholic Church, new definitions of racial purity and the reign of terror during the Inquisition. We will consider the parallels between the Inquisition and more recent examples of religious persecution. During the Inquisition, Jews and Muslims were given a life-defining choice: convert to Catholicism or leave their homeland. Spain had one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the world at that time. In 1492, the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, issued the Alhambra Decree, ordering the conversion or expulsion of all Jews. Many Jews accepted conversion and fully adopted Catholicism. 

Some of these converts (Conversos or Marranos) kept their identity as Jews, secretly practicing Judaism while outwardly living as observant Catholics. They sought to keep their identity intact despite the great risk to their lives. During the Inquisition, many of those with a Jewish background, the so-called New Christians, were arrested, tortured and killed since they were not of "pure blood." Today, a number of Converso descendants have discovered their background and in places such as New Mexico and Latin America are exploring their mixed identities. This course will examine the history of this tragic period, review historical documents, discuss how the Conversos survived the Inquisition and created a unique culture. 

Course Materials   Selected readings will be placed on the course google site.  In my welcome letter to the course, I will attach a document containing (1) the weekly topic, (2) major issues to be examined and (3) other documents and resources. I may show selected portions of relevant videos in order to illustrate a particular aspect of Conversos. 

Preparation Time   2 Hours/Week

Biography   Sanford (Sandy) Sherizen was trained as a sociologist, specialized in criminology issues, and became a computer security and privacy consultant. He has taught at various universities, led seminars, and has spoken in domestic and international settings. As an ex-president, he is active at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury. He has taught ESL to adult immigrants and now serves on a patient research ethics and safety board at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Sandy has taught several courses at lifelong learning programs, including crime and criminal justice, the sociology of “deviant” behavior, the invisible form of manipulation and the death of privacy. 

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H&G10-10-Tue1   The Rise of China: Politics, the Party & Global Power

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Scott McKnight  

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   How did China, a country beset by war, unrest and poverty, become increasingly wealthy and globally relevant over the past four decades? How has China’s single-party state, which came to power in 1949 to form the People’s Republic of China, been able to adapt—and indeed thrive—when so many other single-party states have stagnated or collapsed? What does China’s rise and all its attendant impacts—economic, political and environmental—mean for the rest of the world and for the United States in particular? This ten-week course will analyze the ‘rise’ of China, focusing on several key topics: trade and technology, China’s single-party political system, its relationship with the United States, its innovation trajectory, its attempt at becoming a clean energy superpower, as well as issues on China’s periphery, notably in Taiwan and Xinjiang.

Course Materials   All readings (2-3 per class) will be provided in PDF format. This class will use a mix of long-form journalism, newspaper articles and book chapters to provide an educated, well-balanced primer that the weekly lectures will then complement. All reading materials will be available in .pdf format to the members via email or via links in the class website.

Preparation Time   1-2 hours (20-25 pages)

Biography   Scott McKnight received a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the comparative political economy of innovation, energy and China. After completing his undergraduate degree in public policy at Carleton University in Ottawa and working for the Governor General of Canada, he completed a Master’s degree in International Relations (in Chinese) at Renmin University in Beijing. He later spent two years as a lecturer, teaching courses on Chinese politics, economy and foreign relations. He is a frequent commentator on Chinese politics and economy for Canadian media. Scott is fluent in five languages.

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H&G15-10-Tue1   The Pivotal Role of the Supreme Court at Inflection Points in American Life

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Saul Schapiro

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   What role does the Supreme Court play in the American governmental system and how has it exercised its powers at critical points in American history? The Court has played a prominent role in molding the political, legal and social landscape of the United States. In its role to uphold the Constitution, it has impacted society specifically in the areas of slavery, race relations and race “mixing,” i.e. segregation and integration. It has also engaged with voting rights, federal power in the economic and public health realms, privacy, reproductive rights, the definition of marriage, criminal justice, and federalism, or the role of the federal government versus the states. At different points in our history, the Court has been prominent, while at other times, Congress or the President has taken the lead. This course focuses on the Court, how it has evolved, how it addresses the issues before it, its approach to decision-making, and the ramifications of its decisions. This course will explore these crucial matters at a critical time

Course Materials   The materials will include the text of the various Supreme Court decisions covered, secondary materials explaining the background of the cases discussed, and analyses and ramifications of the decisions for the country. Links to the materials to be viewed online will be provided. 

Preparation Time   1-2 hours per week

Biography  Saul Schapiro is a graduate of the 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 previously taught BOLLI courses that examined race relations in the US and the Supreme Court, and the functioning of the American state and federal governments. His interest post retirement is in the intersection of government, politics, economics and the law.  

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SOC2-5b-Tue1   Cultures as Seen Through African and Oceanic Masks and Masquerades

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Jennifer Coplon

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

5 week course - October 25 - November 29

(No class November 22)

Description   Indigenous peoples from Africa and Oceania still observe deities that may be ancestors or even animals. It is believed that these beings exist in the afterworld and have control over the living—for good or for bad. These beings can create rain, fertility of crops and women, prosperity, wellness, and community wellbeing, yet these same forces can be responsible for destruction, famine, dry unproductive land, illness, and death. Their powers, as embodied in the masks and headdresses that are worn, serve as social control over individuals and villages. Through readings, videos, and a museum guest speaker and a mask collector, we will have an opportunity to experience the cultures of African and Oceanic masks, mask makers, maskers, and masquerades. 

As part of our anthropological exploration, we will consider the tribal practices, brought to life by indigenous dancing that calls forth spirits of the afterlife. Are they really that different from Western observances when we compare them to the meanings of our own rituals, values, and behaviors? Do these masks take on more vitality and essence when they are seen within the context of their local dances and music? Should masks that were stolen or removed by force from Africa or Oceania be returned to their country of origin? By the end of this course, students will have more knowledge of and appreciation for the cultural significance of masks and an appreciation for the human experience they reflect.

Course Materials   The syllabus includes extensive readings, videos, and questions to consider for each class, posted on a Google site. The class materials are taken from a variety of sources, mostly found online. Additional readings will be sent by email.

Preparation Time   2 hours of reading and video watching

Biography   Jennifer Coplon has been fascinated by masks for her entire adult life and has collected them from her travels and her family. She is particularly intrigued with masks that have ceremonial and ritual value. As a practicing clinical social worker, Jennifer has been interested in understanding and valuing cultures different from her own. At BOLLI she has taught two successful courses on cultural masks around the world. Now she wants to provide more depth into the uses, meanings, and significance of masks and masquerades from two continents. 

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ART2-10-Tue2   Radicals in Victorian Art: From Turner to Art Nouveau

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Suzanne Art

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   At the beginning, Victorian art consisted mainly of portraits of stuffy-looking aristocrats posing in front of thick velvet curtains. But with the growth of industrialism, society was rapidly evolving, and groups of radical young innovators promoted new styles that would turn the British art world on its head. JMW Turner turned from the classical standards of the Royal Academy to depict his world in a new way, painting vast expanses of light and color in a free and expressive manner. The Pre-Raphaelites scorned the soft, idealized images of their mentors and took their canvases outside to paint nature in highly realistic detail. Unlike Turner, they and their followers detested the negative impact of industrialization and sought inspiration in the art and stories of medieval and early Renaissance (pre-Raphael) times. The Aesthetes, led by Whistler, ignored narrative altogether, believing that a painting should be a thing of beauty, without any deeper meaning. Their motto was 'Art for Art's sake'.

William Morris led the Arts & Crafts Movement, reasserting the artistic and functional superiority of handmade objects. Returning to the standards of the medieval craft guilds, artist-designers produced decorative home furnishings that stood out in quality from factory-produced commodities. The response to this movement was the Modern Style, later known as Art Nouveau, which promoted sleek designs that reflected the utility of objects and, in the graphic arts, featured the sinuous curves of plants you will recognize in a Tiffany lamp. Come and discover the marvels wrought by the radicals of Victorian art!

Course Materials   All assignments will be online. These will include articles and videos focusing upon historical backgrounds, the biographies of specific artists, the evolution of English 19th century art movements, and descriptions of various art mediums. Access to these assignments will be available via a Google Website.  

Preparation Time   Weekly preparation time should be about an hour and a half.

Biography   Suzanne Art has always loved art, language, 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 ten art history courses at BOLLI.

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H&G5-10-Tue2   Fragility of Democracy: The Rise of the Nazis and its Lessons for Today

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Jan Darsa

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   How does a democratic society evolve into a dictatorship? What are the choices individuals make that enable this to happen? In this course we will explore how it was possible that people, who were thought to be the moral barometers of society, e.g. doctors, lawyers, and judges, became participants in dictatorship and genocide. Just how did the Nazis build such a large and devoted following, and how was propaganda used to create allegiance and promote hatred? The factors of politics and of human behavior that allowed Germany to transform itself from a democracy into a dictatorship will be examined. By looking at choices people made during the rise of the Nazi Party and its subsequent takeover of power, we will explore this period of history. We will recognize how responsibility for losing or sustaining a democracy belongs to both its leaders and citizens.  Importantly, we will explore how citizens of a society can work to prevent this from happening again.

Course Materials   The Holocaust and Human Behavior, a Facing History and Ourselves publication-no purchase necessary, can download the PDF. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. Various excerpts from videos obtained from The Facing History Website and YouTube. Articles, art and literary excerpts relevant to the course.

Preparation Time   Suggested readings would take about 2 hours, but much of it is optional.

Biography   Jan Darsa was Director of Jewish Education at Facing History and Ourselves for over 20 years, and has developed curricula in the field of Holocaust History, Jewish life before WW II and Israeli History. Her recent publications are Sacred Texts, Modern Questions: Connecting Ethics and History Through A Jewish Lens, and Colliding Dreams Study Guide. Jan has taught in public and private high schools and Tufts University. She is a Jerusalem Fellow, studying for 2 years (1988-90) in Jerusalem, and in 1991 was a scholar-in-residence in South Africa. In 2010 she received the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish Education.

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H&G11-10-Tue2   Did the Best "Man" Win? Those Who Would be President

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Steve Messinger

This hybrid class will consist of in-person participants and Zoom participants, all in a synchronous learning experience. This means that the class will be conducted with two kinds of students, approximately 15 online and 15 in the BOLLI Gathering Space with the SGL. This class is a pilot project. Your experience will help us understand the potential of this learning modality. At the time of registration, please choose “in-person” or “online” from the course drop-down menu. Please understand that your choice represents a commitment to participate primarily in this fashion.

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

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 by 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 be lecture with questions to stir discussion on whether policies espoused as candidates would have translated into presidential action. It will look at the lives of the candidates who did not achieve their goal, and we will ask ourselves: what drove them to seek the highest office in the land, did America get it right, and did the best candidate win?

Course Materials   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 to 1 ½ hours 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 fourteenth opportunity to be an SGL.

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MUS5-10-Tue2   John Williams: The Maestro of the Cinema

Study Group Leader (SGL) – James Heazlewood-Dale

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   What do E.T., Luke Skywalker, and a shark have in common? All three characters are brought to life on the big screen with John Williams’ compositional mastery and sophistication. He has scored over seventy-five films, and his themes are arguably the most recognizable of any film composer in history. How does the mere repetition of two low, ominous notes evoke a shark? This ten-week course centers on the power of musical themes in Williams’ film compositions, including Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, and Star Wars, among others. We will try to answer why we as humans can walk away from a cinema humming melodies over and over. In so doing, we will focus on musical, scientific, and historical perspectives to see how Williams used sound to enhance the film’s narrative and its characters. Finally, the course will trace Williams’ development as a composer and consider why his scores are the most celebrated in cinematic history. No prior knowledge of music or film theory is required, as all terminology is explained and discussed in the course. If, however, you do have prior knowledge in these two disciplines (music and film music), the course material will provide ample challenges, unfamiliar content, and engaging coursework.         

Course Materials   The study group leader will send out a weekly email containing all materials, including the film, soundtrack, and readings. Access to films will be sent via a Google file link. 

Preparation Time   30-45 minutes for reading and listening to soundtracks, in addition to watching the film. Each film is roughly between 1 hour and 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Biography   Growing up in Australia, James discovered a passion for playing jazz double bass. He was accepted into the Sydney Conservatory 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 1960s.”

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LIT12-10-Tue2   The Novelist as Artist: Two Books by John Banville

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Diane Proctor

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   John Banville — a contemporary Irish writer, described as "the heir to Proust, via Nabokov," although Banville himself maintains that W. B. Yeats and Henry James are the two real influences on his work — provides an absorbing escape from the turmoil of today’s world. In this course, we shall examine two of his more celebrated novels: The Sea, which won the Booker Prize, and The Book of Evidence, which was short-listed for The Booker. The former is written from the perspective of a man who, after losing his wife, returns to his childhood summer retreat, while the second is written from a jail cell, as the narrator recounts his history and motivation for murder. What connects these two seemingly disconnected novels is painting – an unfinished biography of a painter and a thief’s dangerous obsession. Banville dwells in the interior ruminations of his characters as he yearns, as the Princeton scholar Fintan O’Toole has noted, “to fulfill a wish that the novel could aspire to the transcendent condition of certain paintings” and not merely “a pattern of exquisite sentences.” Our task is to see if either work meets this standard. We will read closely about 40 pages a week and discuss his work.

Course Materials   The Book of Evidence by John Banville ISBN 0-375-72523-7. The Sea by John Banville ISBN 0-307-23311-9C. SGL will provide links to supplemental articles as needed. 

Preparation Time   Plan to read around 40 pages each week along with occasional reviews.

Biography   Diane Proctor has taught literature and writing for many years at three independent schools: Milton Academy, Hotchkiss, and Middlesex School. She has enjoyed teaching at BOLLI for six years.

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WRI1-10-Tue2   Advanced Memoir Writing: Picturing Your Life

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Marjorie Roemer and Donna Johns

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   “Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”              

                      Ray Bradbury     

This is the twenty-second iteration of this course on memoir writing, but again we will be taking a slightly different approach this term. This version of the course is intended for people who have already completed a memoir writing course, and it is another effort at putting the pieces together, trying to find the direction for the larger work. We will operate in our usual fashion: a prompt is given, then each participant brings 500 words to be read and responded to in class. For this course the prompts will be drawn from photographs that the participants bring from their own lives, so we may look at stages of development, places, families, events from our own individual experience. Our work together is, as always, 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.

Course Materials   Instructions will be prepared. Photos will be screen-shared as we proceed.

Preparation Time   Hard to estimate. We write 500 words. That might take ½ an hour or days.

Biography   Marjorie Roemer has been teaching at BOLLI for over ten years, ever since her retirement from Rhode Island College as an English professor, Director of the First Year Writing Program, and Director of the Rhode Island Project. She has amassed hundreds of small snippets of writing waiting to be collected into a book.

Donna Johns spent her working years as a youth librarian in the Newton Public Schools, an adjunct professor at Simmons and Lesley, and a popular presenter at regional conferences throughout New England. At BOLLI she focuses on making herself a better writer and encouraging others to pursue their writing goals. She is delighted to once again join Marjorie in these pursuits.

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H&G9-10-Tue3   China vs. America: Can They Get Along in Today’s World?

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Fred Kobrick

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   Where do China and America go next? War or peace or tense standoff? Neither looking at history nor looking at China from the outside are illuminating, because China has undergone a massive transition in the past four decades. China’s rag-to-riches story has brought in the Chinese “Gilded Age,” with an explosion in personal incomes, wealth, and expectations. However, China’s citizens are experiencing greater income inequality than in the United States as well as a conflict between their desire to "own" high-tech information in the midst of ever-greater government clampdowns on personal freedoms coupled with censorship of the press and the internet. President Xi Jīn Ping presides over a rising middle class and nearly unfettered capitalism, while exercising ever more state control over the society. Can this complex economy and mixed society be managed by such a highly controlled political system? Xi Jin Ping maintains that he can get it all to work, while attempting to establish himself as the most powerful leader since Mao. He has made himself President for life, with no successor.

We need to know the inner world of China today to understand how America can avoid battles over Taiwan, yet protect our allies. To help us do this, we will read Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos. The book has been banned in China, but has won the National Book Award in America. Along with other readings, we will hope to reach conclusions about how China and America will try to get along in this new world. 

Course Materials   Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos ISBN 978-0-374-53527-8. The paper version is preferred. The SGL will provide additional readings during the course.

Preparation Time   2 hours 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,” based on a book he authored, “Cotton, Capitalism, and Globalization,” “Cornelius Vanderbilt: The Tycoon Who Changed America,” “Manifest Destiny: America’s Long War of Conquest of the West,” “Presidential Leadership and Presidential Power in America’s Wars: 1812 through Vietnam,” and several courses on China and foreign policy.  

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ART5-10-Tue3   My Kid Could Do That: Understanding Abstract Art

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Emily Leifer

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   When faced with an abstract work of art many viewers are unsure where to start. Some are unconvinced, “Where is the skill?,” and others are outright suspicious, “Am I being put on?” In this course we will learn strategies for approaching abstract works of art: how to find meaning in them and why an artist might choose to work abstractly. We will explore abstract painting and sculpture through a variety of themes, including technology, spirituality, and sexuality. In this exploration we will attempt to uncover the different reasons an artist might want to eschew the task of reproducing the visual world around us and instead communicate with only line, shape, color, texture, space, and material. 

Perhaps new mechanical ways of working and living necessitate new mechanical ways of making art, perhaps one seeks to depict something that cannot be seen, or perhaps one wants their meaning to be understood by some and not by others. Looking at artwork from the 20th and 21st century, by artists such as Jasper Johns, Lygia Pape, Lee Ufan, and El Anatsui, this class will forgo the traditional chronological approach to map the recurrences of themes in abstract painting and sculpture across time. The class will also be global in scope, investigating art from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, to convey the changes and continuities in the use of abstraction among different cultures.

Course Materials   All materials will be provided on a class website or by email links

Preparation Time   1-2 hours, 20-40 pages 

Biography   Emily Leifer is a PhD candidate in the history of art at Bryn Mawr College, working with Professor Homay King. She studies modern and contemporary art, focusing on art of the 1960s and 1970s. Her dissertation explores Light and Space installation art and evolving concepts of the environment, both architectural and ecological, in the United States around the mid-twentieth century. Emily received her MA in Art History from Williams College and her BA in Art History from Brandeis University. She has held curatorial internships at the ICA Philadelphia, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, and David Zwirner Gallery.

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LIT11-10-Tue3   Understanding Shakespeare Like an Elizabethan: Four Plays in Their Time

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Miranda Peery

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

10 week course - September 13 - November 29

(No class September 27 or November 22)

Description   What would it mean to be able to read Shakespeare like an Elizabethan? What would you need to know and how would you need to think in order to experience Shakespeare as his contemporary audience did? Elizabethan culture was rife with political intrigue, seismic shifts in religion and philosophy, and deep cynicism about power and identity. Scientific discoveries were changing how the world was understood and England’s relationship to other nations was transforming rapidly. The dramatic works of Shakespeare were deeply influenced by, and responsive to the culture around them. All of this influenced the way that audiences received Shakespeare’s plays – how they heard, viewed and understood them. By reading four Shakespeare plays—The Tempest, Macbeth, Othello and Richard III—alongside historical events that informed and enriched them, we will try to read Shakespeare as if we were his contemporaries. In gaining the insider knowledge that an Elizabethan audience would have had, we will be able to think about Shakespeare’s influence on his contemporaries. We will also think about how gender, race, legitimacy and power operate in the Elizabethan world, and how political, religious and scientific thought changed not only the way that people lived, but also the way that they used narrative. In addition, by watching some performances of the plays, we will investigate Shakespeare’s use of theatrical techniques and see how performance changes our interpretation of the plays. The class will be a combination of lecture and class discussion.

Course Materials   Any edition of William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Folger edition is $9.99 on Amazon)

Any edition of William Shakespeare, Macbeth (Folger edition is $6.99 on Amazon)

Any edition of William Shakespeare, Othello (Folger edition is $8.99 on Amazon)

Any edition of William Shakespeare, Richard III (Folger edition is $6.99 on Amazon)

Remaining materials (in the form of short articles) to be provided by email.

Preparation Time   2-3 hours a week of reading time. We will read each play in two sessions, as well as a few supplementary materials.

Biography   Miranda Peery received her BA in English Literature from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and her MA in English & WGS from Brandeis University. She is passionate about education and communication, and enjoys reading and writing on a wide variety of topics, but especially religion, witchcraft and magic in early modern England.

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SCI5-5a-Tue3   Meet a Marsh: The Wondrous World of Wetlands

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Matt Kamm

*Please note that this course requires travel to selected sites and outdoor meetings. You are responsible for providing your own transportation. The three outdoor sessions will each be 2 hours long. This course consists of a combination of site visits and Zoom sessions. Sessions of this course may be postponed due to weather. The SGL will work with the class to schedule make up sessions.  

Tuesday– Course Period 3 – 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

5 week course - September 13 - October 18

(No class September 27)

Description   Swamps, bogs, and marshes get a bad rap, but these amazing ecosystems offer us insight into the deep connections between water systems and living things. During this five-week course, participants will have the opportunity to get to know a local wetland (Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord), learning the names and lives of the plants and animals who live there and the way human activities have shaped the wetland and vice versa. In addition to learning about one specific wetland, we will explore the ways that wetlands act as natural buffers for pollution and flooding, as well as the history of wetlands management and how contemporary wetlands are managed for the benefit of both people and wildlife. The course will feature three in-person outdoor field trips and two virtual sessions. At the end of the course, participants will be able to recognize and name many native plant and animal species of New England wetlands, as well as explain the “ecosystem services” that healthy wetlands provide to humans and describe the effects of different human activities such as damming, irrigation, and dredging on wetland systems.

Course Materials   All materials will be provided to students as scanned PDFs free of charge.

Preparation Time  30 minutes- approximately 10-15 pages of reading

Biography   Matthew Kamm, PhD is a naturalist and educator currently working as the Conservation Outreach Coordinator for Zoo New England’s Field Conservation Department. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Brandeis, then went on to work for Mass Audubon studying and protecting native birds. He attended Tufts University for his PhD, where he examined the relationship between bird life histories and declining populations with a particular focus on American kestrels. In his current position, he works to survey and safeguard rare plant, reptile, amphibian, and fish populations across Massachusetts, along with teaching educational programs in K-12 schools.

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H&G7-5a-Tue3   The Presidency of Harry S. Truman: The Lore, the Leadership, the Legacy

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Fran Feldman

Please note that this course will take place in-person at 60 Turner Street. If warranted by changing health circumstances, in-person courses may be moved online. We will make every effort to deliver in-person courses, but your safety is our top priority.  

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

5 week course - September 13 - October 18

(No class September 27)

Description   “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Surely, a cliché, you are thinking. Yet it’s significant how much of today’s news so closely resonates with events 70+ years ago during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Loose talk of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine harkens back to the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945, which gave birth to the nuclear age. Russia’s aggression today reflects the lowering of the Iron Curtain in 1946. NATO, which figures so prominently in the news currently, was an achievement of the Truman years. Current efforts to ensure true equality and diversity, to understand and undermine racism, and to shore up the middle class at the expense of the very wealthy echo much of what was Truman’s Fair Deal. The Iraq and Vietnam wars closely parallel the Korean War during the Truman years. Rather than being a survey, the course will focus primarily on major events during Truman’s presidency, such as the dropping of the atomic bomb, the establishment of NATO, and the advent of the Marshall Plan, with just a mention of Truman’s early years and government experience prior to 1945. Learning in the classroom is collaborative, with no lectures, lots of discussion, and individual research and reports on the significant achievements of the Truman presidency. The book The Trials of Harry S. Truman will be a constant guide during the course.

Course Materials   The Trials of Harry S. Truman by Jeffrey Frank

Preparation Time   2 to 3 hours per week

Biography   Passionate about 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 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 avocations include golf, traveling, and volunteer work. Previously at BOLLI she taught “The Remarkable Roosevelts,” “Allies and Adversaries,” “The Reluctant Ally,”  “Four Portraits of Leadership,” and “A Life of Purpose in 20th-Century Moscow.”

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DRA1-5b-Tue3   Page to Stage: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Steven Bloom

Please note that this course will take place in-person at 60 Turner Street. If warranted by changing health circumstances, in-person courses may be moved online. We will make every effort to deliver in-person courses, but your safety is our top priority.  

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

5 week course - October 25 - November 29

(No class November 22)

Description   How do we experience a play differently when we see it performed on stage as opposed to reading it on the page? How does reading it first enhance the experience of seeing it? To explore the differences and benefits, we will read Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson, a major twentieth-century American playwright. Then, after attending a performance at the Huntington Theatre, we will study the drama further, considering in particular how this production meets, surpasses, or falls short of expectations based on reading the play.

Joe Turner is part of Wilson’s ten-play cycle chronicling the African American experience in the twentieth century decade by decade. It takes place at a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911, early in the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans escaped the blatant discrimination of the Jim Crow South to seek greater economic opportunities in the northern, western, and midwestern states. When Herald Loomis arrives at the boarding house searching for his wife, he meets a group of different people who, like him, are struggling to belong and to feel comfortable in their own skin in the racially prejudiced world that they find themselves in. Like all of Wilson’s work, the play raises issues like racial discrimination, assimilation, identity, and spirituality, both specific to the African American experience and universal. The Huntington calls the play “a stunning story of spiritual and emotional resurrection.” Study Group members must see a performance at the Huntington, preferably during the third week of the term. 

Course Materials   Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson, Plume, 1988. Additional materials, including information about discount tickets for the Huntington Theatre Company production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, will be provided on a class website. Students will be responsible for the cost of the theatre tickets.

Preparation Time   30 minutes – 2 hours per week

Biography   Steve Bloom is Professor Emeritus, English, at Lasell University in Newton, where he was Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs when he retired in June 2020. Steve earned his PhD (and MA) in English and American Literature from Brandeis and his BA in English from the University of Rochester. He has published two books and many articles on Eugene O’Neill and has spoken frequently at Boston-area theatres and other forums on O’Neill and other modern dramatists. Throughout his academic career, Steve has taught senior adult learners; he was a BOLLI study group leader in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.

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MUS9-5b-Tue3   Brian Eno: Alchemist of Sound

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Ken Macklin

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

5 week course - October 25 - November 29

(No class November 22)

Description   Ambient pioneer, glam rocker, hit producer, multimedia artist, technological innovator, worldbeat proponent, and self-described non-musician -- over the course of his long, prolific, and immensely influential career, Brian Eno has been all of these things and much, much more.”  Allmusic.com

 The course will be a selective retrospective of Brian Eno’s 50+ year career, and while most people don’t know Brian Eno’s solo work, many would instantly recognize classic pop songs he worked on including, U2’s “With or Without You”, Talking Heads’ “Take Me to the River” and “Once in a Lifetime,” and David Bowie “Heroes.” If you used a Windows computer in the mid 90’s, you’ll recognize his start-up sound for Windows 95. He is associated with over 65 recordings, from his early pop records and his creation of ambient music to his collaborative works with other musicians and composers, his legendary role as a record producer, and his film music. Hidden beneath this impressive body of work are influences from 20th century post war avant-garde composers such as La Monte Young, John Cage, and Steve Reich. In addition to looking at the influence of these composers on Eno, we will examine the effect of his training as a visual artist on his ambient music. Finally,  we will consider his important collaborations with David Byrne from Talking Heads , and John Cale from the Velvet Underground.

Course Materials   Short articles, music from YouTube (or if music is not available, will play from my personal iTunes streaming account in class), interviews and documentaries.

Preparation Time   2 hours per  week

Biography   Ken Macklin has been composing and performing solo home recordings of electronic music since the early 80’s with both analog (tape) and digital (computer software) multi track recording using both analog and digital synthesizers. He has been following Eno’s career and music since the mid 1970’s; he was fortunate enough to see Brian Eno doing a rare music lecture at UC Berkeley in the late 1970’s. Ken received a BA in East Asian Studies and did graduate work in Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously, he taught a course at BOLLI on the 1st Chinese Opium War.

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