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Fall 2021 Course Schedule | Tuesday

In light of the uptick in COVID cases within Massachusetts and the rise of the Delta variant, we have made the difficult decision to move all Fall 2021 BOLLI courses to Zoom.

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

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

Fall 2021 courses will begin the week of September 20 and run through the week of November 29, with no class October 11 or November 23-25. 5a courses will begin the week of September 20 and end the week of October 19 for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday classes, and end October 25 for Monday courses. 5b courses will begin the week of October 25 for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday courses, and will begin November 1 for Monday classes. All 5b courses will end the week of November 29. Click here for the fall 2021 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.






Time Class

Period 1
9:30 am to 10:55 am

Look to the Ladies: America’s Forgotten Women Writers, 1861-1961
Kathryn Bloom

Fall Brilliance and Your Smartphone: Attain a New Level of Artistry and Technical Expertise
Nancy Katz
5 week course - October 26- November 30
(No Class November 23)

Will Our House Divided Stand? Can American Democracy Survive the Extreme Political Polarization of the 3rd Decade of the 21st Century?
Saul Schapiro

Masterpieces Times Three: From Drama to Film and Opera
Peter Schmidt

Period 2
11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Mavericks: Five Artists Who Sailed Against the Wind
Suzanne Art

Issue-Oriented Fiction: Just Another Opinion or an Aid to Deeper Understanding?
Janice Burres

Presidential Leadership, Presidential Power in America's Wars: 1812 through Vietnam
Fred Kobrick

Pat Barker’s World War I Trilogy: A Novelist Explores the Morality of War
Diane Proctor

Advanced Memoir Writing
Marjorie Roemer

12:35 pm to 2:00 pm


Period 3
2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

The Geopolitics of the Horn of Africa
Girma Belay
5 week course - October 26- November 30
(No Class November 23)


The Fragility of Democracy: The Rise of the Nazis and Its Lessons For Today
Jan Darsa

Music Unbound: The Rise of Romanticism
Roberta Kozinn

Faraday, Maxwell and Einstein: A Brief History of Electromagnetism
Franklin Dorian Segall

What Am I Looking At?—Fresh Perspectives on Art by Creative Thinkers
Diane Winkelman
5 week course - September 21- October 19

Pages from the Neurologist’s Notebook: Insights from Oliver Sacks
Mercedes Villalonga
5 week course - September 21 - October 19

Food in Dramatic Films: Pass the Popcorn Please
Toby Kusmer
5 week course - October 26 - November 30
(No Class November 23) 

LIT3-10-Tue1  Look to the Ladies: America’s Forgotten Women Writers, 1861-1961

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Kathryn Bloom

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

10 week course - September 20 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   If I asked you to name some of the most important contemporary North American women writers, it wouldn’t take long to come up with a compelling list: Toni Morrison. Cynthia Ozick. Joyce Carol Oates. Dara Horn. Anne Tyler. And that’s just the first round of responses that come to mind.

     But what about their literary foremothers, the American women writers of the mid-19th through mid-20th centuries, whose popular fiction was well regarded in its day, but is almost forgotten now? In this course, we’ll look at the work of authors such as Kate Chopin, Kathryn Forbes, Fannie Hurst, and Rebecca Harding Davis. We’ll consider some forgotten fiction and poetry. We’ll discuss how they wrote about issues of their era--some that are all-too-familiar today. We’ll ask ourselves how (and if) they are resisting the restrictive social norms of their time. And we’ll ask ourselves whether we think their work and reputations are worth restoring to the literary canon.

Readings   Short stories available online (links will be provided).

Fannie Hurst, Back Street. 1930. Vintage Movie Classics edition, 2014.

Preparation Time   2 hours/week.  

Biography   Kathryn Bloom, PhD, has taught a variety of literature courses at BOLLI over the past few years. She retired from a career in public relations and holds the BA from Rutgers University (Douglass College), MA from University of Toronto, MJLS from Hebrew College, and PhD from Northeastern University. Her op eds, feature articles, short stories, and blogs, and scholarly essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Boston Globe, Boston, Herald, Philip Roth Studies, Lilith, and the Times of Israel. She also teaches at Orchard Cove, North Hill, and Congregation Shir Tikvah (Winchester, MA).

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 ART5-5b-Tue1  Fall Brilliance and Your Smartphone: Attain a New Level of Artistry and Technical Expertise

Study Group Leaders (SGLs) – Nancy Katz

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

5 week course - October 26- November 30

(No Class November 23)

Description   This class will take place in mid to late fall with its beautiful and varying colors and light, where you will learn to see like a photographer.  Editing tools from your phone and a popular app will be used to artistically enhance your images. We will review the composition basics of good photography and learn how to apply them to your smartphone using composition techniques that all pros use. These techniques include: focal point, rule of thirds, diagonal lines, filling the frame and more. This course will contain different photography themes from the SGL’s previous smartphone courses. We will spend one session and follow-up field trip on each of the following themes: fall foliage and water landscapes; fall foliage-informal portrait; fall foliage and classic New England architecture; as well as a course-long assignment, due at the last class. Homework assignments centering on each topic will be discussed during every class. In this course you will master editing on your smartphone and learn the use of artistic editing using the Snapseed app (free download). You should be familiar with using your smartphone camera and its features, including saving images in albums, renaming image files and emailing jpeg images. A tripod will be helpful but not required. Images will be saved through a Google Site, and the Study Group Leader’s website and email. It will be helpful to have a Gmail address. 

Readings   iPhone User Guide (no cost download)

iPhone the Missing Manual (13th Edition for iPhone SE or IOS 13.2 or later) by David Pogue 

iPhone for Seniors in easy steps: Covers iOS11 by Nick Vendome 2017

Android Phones for Dummies (4th Edition)  by Dan Gookin 

Additional materials will be provided on a Google Site.

Preparation Time   1-2 hours shooting and editing; required reading 1 hour/week.

Biography   Nancy Katz graduated Girls' Latin School and Hebrew College, holds a BA in Sociology from UMass, Amherst and MEd from McDaniel College. She studied Landscape Design at the NY Botanical Garden and taught darkroom photography and Adult Education digital photography in NJ and Boston. She has photographed for newspapers and magazines, had exhibitions, including one on the Jewish community of Cuba and was a guest artist at the Apple Store, Boston. She is a docent at The Vilna Shul, and taught Smartphone photography at The Arnold Arboretum, Brookline Adult Education, and The Weissman Preservation Center at Harvard.

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H&G16-10-Tue1  Will Our House Divided Stand? Can American Democracy Survive the Extreme Political Polarization of the 3rd Decade of the 21st Century?

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Saul Schapiro

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   The United States is facing an existential crisis in 2021. Clashes between and among historical forces, such as racial antagonism and religious fervor, combined with cultural disagreements about the role of women in our political life, the nature of gender in our society, and governmental control over reproductive decisions, have risen to a fever pitch.  How did wearing masks or receiving vaccines during a pandemic become a political issue? How did one of our two governing parties come to reject the legitimacy of a presidential election? It is not clear whether our political institutions can still keep the nation together and/or preserve our democratic traditions.

  The aim of this class is to provide new information and explore alternative understandings of the historical facts we already know. The unpredicted events of the last 4 years and the 2020 election surprised even seasoned political professionals. This indicates that we don’t have an adequate operational understanding of what is transpiring and why. 

This course will re-examine American history, culture, its ideas and ideals, its political institutions and trace the origins of the conflicts we are facing as a society today to their historical roots. It will also consider how the structure of our government facilitates and/or impedes our ability to successfully deal with the challenges of contemporary life. We will attempt to better understand and re-conceptualize the nature of these challenges and arrive at new insights and perspectives on our collective life in these extraordinary times in this exceptional country.

NOTE: This is very similar to the course that was offered in spring of 2021 under the name “The Government of the United States: Form and Function – Its Origins and Does It Still Work?”

Readings   Primary sources and documents will be made available on line by SGL.

Preparation Time  1-2 hours/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 Invest Trust. Schapiro has previously taught the BOLLI course that examined 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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LIT13-10-Tue1  Masterpieces Times Three:  From Drama to Film and Opera

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Peter Schmidt

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   Drama has often served as the inpiration for other art forms. In this course we will look at four masterpieces of drama: Salome by Oscar Wilde; Woyzeck by Georg Büchner; Earth-Spirit and Pandora's Box by Frank Wedekind, and their realization in film and modern opera. The films are: Salome with Alla Nazimova; Woyzeck by Werner Herzog and with Klaus Kinski; Pandora's Box by G. W. Pabst and with Louise Brooks. The operas are: Salome by Richard Strauss, and Wozzeck and Lulu by Alban Berg. Besides in-depth discussion and analysis of each of the plays, we'll consider visualization of the characters and staging as a guide to viewing selections from the films and operas based on them. This will include some comparisons of the plays and their main characters, and also of the films and operas. Come join in this exciting adventure. No prior knowledge is required. Although the plays with their films and operas are planned to be covered separately in three, three and four weeks, respectively, continuous attendance in the course is highly recommended.

Readings   Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde, Salome; Dover Publications, 1967. ISBN- 0486218309 (Note: Salome is also available free online, including the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations.)

Georg Büchner Woyzeck; Drama Classics, Nick Hern Books, 1997. ISBN- 1854591835 (Note: Only this particular translation will be used in the course).       

Additional materials will be provided on the course website.                                                                                  

Preparation Time   2-3 hours for play-discussion sessions; about 1 hour for the others   

Biography   Peter Schmidt has led and co-led several BOLLI courses: "Five Physicists who Changed the World View,” "Who's Afraid of 20th-Century Music" with Naomi Schmidt, and "The Humanity of Heinrich Böll: Selected Short Stories". His professional careers have been in physics and machine vision engineering, but he has also cultivated an interest in classical music and short stories, including 20th-century music based on literary works; hence this multidisciplinary venture.

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ART2-10-Tue2  Mavericks: Five Artists Who Sailed Against the Wind

Study Group Leaders (SGLs) - Suzanne Art

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   While all artists create works that reflect their unique visions of the world, it takes courage and determination to successfully challenge the artistic standards of the day. Let’s consider five who did. Sandro Botticelli stood apart from most Renaissance artists, who stressed single-point perspective, muscularity of form, and naturalism. His paintings reflect his training as a goldsmith, with a focus upon graceful lines, intricate ornamentation, and a sense of the ethereal. Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the greatest painters of the Baroque period. She rose from tragedy (she was raped in her father’s art studio by one of his colleagues) to take a stand against the stereotype of female submissiveness in art. Jacques-Louis David countered the frivolous Rococo style of his day with a cerebral brand of history painting that combined classical austerity with heightened emotion. His Oath of the Horatii served as a rallying cry for the republicans during the French Revolution. James McNeill Whistler was a leader in the Aesthetic Movement, advocating simple design and tonal harmony. Sensing a parallel between painting and music, he entitled many of his works "arrangements" and "nocturnes", thereby negating any narrative intent. Paul Cezanne, who perceived reality in terms of its composite parts, stressed geometric forms and thick textures in his landscapes – a far cry from the traditional representation then promoted by the French Academy. In this course, we will examine the lives and works of these five “mavericks” and discover how they influenced the development of Western art.

Readings   All assignments will be provided on a Google Site. These will include short biographies, articles about specific artists, and videos of art historians focusing on the works of the five artists studied in the course. 

Preparation Time   Typically 1.5 hours/week

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 nine art history courses at BOLLI.

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LIT6-10-Tue2  Issue-Oriented Fiction: Just Another Opinion or an Aid to Deeper Understanding?

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Janice Burres

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   How can novels deepen our understanding of some of the most complex issues of our time? In this course we’ll look at how contemporary fiction can help us to appreciate the struggles of people who have faced experiences that may be unfamiliar to us.  Imagine you were forced to leave your country with just the clothes on your back with the hope of entering the U.S. through the southern border. Or you are a conscientious parent who loves your son only to have him kill several classmates and a teacher. We will read three engaging novels, one by Jeanine Cummins and two by Jodi Picoult, each book exploring a different issue: immigration, school shooting, and racism. In addition, using material provided online, we will compare how learning about social problems from novels differs from studying them through nonfiction sources, such as articles and books. For example, does an emotional connection to an issue made through a fictional work help or hinder our understanding of these issues? The authors have made choices about characters, plot, and setting that impact the readers’ experience and inform our comprehension of the topics. How do these decisions reflect the authors’ beliefs and attitudes and how does that perspective influence our own views, biases, and judgments?  Through class discussions and breakout groups we will get to know and learn from each other as we discuss a variety of questions.  

Readings   Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

The SGL will provide related articles on a course website.

Preparation Time: We will read about 150 pages a week of a novel plus one or two articles.

Biography   Janice Burres double majored in English and education, earned a master’s degree in reading education, and completed the coursework for a master’s in counseling psychology.  She taught middle and high school English at the Dover-Sherborn Regional Schools for nineteen years. As a communication specialist at Mckinsey & Company, she traveled around the world training their consultants in writing, public speaking, and group facilitation.  Currently she teaches graduate courses to practicing K-12 teachers in various Massachusetts school districts.

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H&G13-10-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 - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

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 during war times, 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 all war presidents from the War of 1812, through Vietnam, and study and discuss the evolution of Presidential power.

Readings   Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss Paperback, ISBN 9780307409614

Preparation Time  2 ½ hours, 59 pages/week (text without footnotes is 586 pages)   

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; several courses on China and foreign policy; Cornelius Vanderbilt: The Tycoon Who Changed America; and Manifest Destiny: America’s Long War of Conquest of the West.

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LIT11-10-Tue2  Pat Barker’s World War I Trilogy: A Novelist Explores the Morality of War

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Diane Proctor

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   In July, 1917, Siegfried Sassoon wrote: “I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are sacrificed.” Against this seditious declaration stands Dr. Jonathan Rivers, the psychiatrist charged with “rehabilitating” the famous poet’s “sanity”; in consort with this sentiment, is fellow poet, Wilfred Owen, who also faces the ghosts of war. All three real life characters meet in Craiglockhart Castle, Scotland, where soldiers are being treated for shell shock and fictional characters join them, as Pat Barker weaves her absorbing trilogy.

      In the course of our discussions we will examine the courage, madness, class divisions, and  insanity of war and look at the ways Regeneration, Eye in the Door, and the Booker Prize winning The Ghost Road, take the reader from the interior lives of the characters to the external realities of war. We will spend three weeks discussing each book and finally, we will examine the trilogy as a whole, including the  criteria by which  The Ghost Road was awarded the Booker Prize. The SGL will provide copies of relevant poems to enrich the discussions.

Readings  We will read all three novels and the SGL will provide supplementary poetry.

Regeneration, Pat Barker, Plume/Penguin Edition

Eye in the Door, Pat Barker,  Plume/Penguin Edition

The Ghost Road, Pat Barker, Plume/Penguin Edition

Preparation Time   80 pages at about 2 hours/week

Biography   Diane Proctor has dedicated her career to the teaching of literature and writing and she was on the faculty of Milton Academy, The Hotchkiss School, and Middlesex School.  In retirement, she has served as the President of the League of Voters of Concord-Carlisle and leads courses at several learning and retirement programs.  She has taught at BOLLI for several years.  

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WRI1-10-Tue2  Advanced Memoir Writing

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Marjorie Roemer 

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   “The situation is the context or circumstance; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer; the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say.”

                     from Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story.

     This is the twentieth iteration of this course on memoir writing, but it will be a little different. This course is for people who have already completed a memoir writing course, and it is an effort to see how the pieces might fit together, and what the overall thrust of the memoir might be.  We will operate in this way: a prompt is given, and then each participant brings 500 words to be read and responded to in class.  Many of the prompts will be borrowed from Brian Kitely’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction.  These will be adapted for autobiographical writing.  Our work together is to encourage 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   A booklet of assignments will be prepared and distributed. 

Preparation Time   Participants will write 500 words per week.  

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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H&G3-5b-Tue3  The Geopolitics of the Horn of Africa

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Girma Belay

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

5 week course - October 26- November 30

(No Class November 23)

Description   The Horn of Africa, comprising the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia, is vital to the interests of the United States. Ethnic competition, border conflicts, control of resources such as rivers, dams, ports, and cash crops and livestock, and big power interests are all relevant to this complicated area of the world.

     The purpose of the course is to introduce the region’s complex history, politics, and economics in the past 30 years. We will also examine its geopolitical and strategic relevance to the U.S., Europe, China and the Middle East. These dynamics accentuate the divisions and the economic interests between the ten Upper Nile Basin countries (led by Ethiopia) and the Lower Nile Basin countries (Sudan and Egypt). The course will explore strategies to resolve the conflicts that have emerged in the past few years as a result of the geopolitics of the region. This course has been designed with an eye on both class presentation and active participation. This course was given at BOLLI in fall and spring 2014.

Readings   Current articles from journals, magazines and newspapers with links to websites for downloading and YouTube video links.

Preparation Time   Up to 5 hours per week but all readings are optional  

Biography   Girma Belay has his master’s degrees from UCLA’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning and from California State University at Los Angeles in international relations (political science.) He earned an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He came to UCLA on a full scholarship and played on the varsity soccer team for four years. He was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which he continues to visit frequently. He is retired from an active career as an affordable housing executive in Boston and fills his free time by following the geopolitics of his homeland. Girma has lead several courses about Africa at BOLLI.

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H&G7-10-Tue3  The Fragility of Democracy: The Rise of the Nazis and Its Lessons For Today

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Jan Darsa

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23) 

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.


The Holocaust and Human Behavior (Free PDF from Facing History)

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder          

Various excerpts from videos obtained from The Facing History Website and YouTube             

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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MUS6-10-Tue3  Music Unbound: The Rise of Romanticism

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Roberta Kozinn 

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

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

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

Readings   YouTube performances, students’ own recordings, and on-line bios and background articles.  Explanations of musical terms and translations of all vocal texts will be provided.  

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

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

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SCI3-10-Tue3  Faraday, Maxwell and Einstein: A Brief History of Electromagnetism

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Franklin Dorian Segall

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

10 week course - September 21 - November  30

 (No class November 23)

Description   The effects of electricity and magnetism profoundly affect our daily lives, but we rarely stop to ponder these physical phenomena. In this course, we will learn about these concepts from historical and personal perspectives, ranging from ancient notions, through the unification of magnetism with electricity, and then how our understanding grew to revolutionize our very concepts of space and time. The structure of the course will be anchored by the personal and professional stories of three giant figures in the history of science: Faraday, Maxwell and Einstein.  Although this is not a physics course, we will consider and try to understand the substance of the scientific advances made by each of these scientists as well as those of other investigators who made significant contributions to the field. We will look at the personal and intellectual development of each of our scientists, what motivated them to pursue their investigations, and then consider the physical and conceptual tools that enabled each of them to make great leaps of imagination and insight. The second portion of the course will focus on some of the many practical developments resulting from our understanding of electromagnetism, as well as the entrepreneurs and engineers responsible for their creation. Topics may include the development of radio communication, electrical power transmission and the interactions of electromagnetic waves with matter, depending on the interests of the class.

Readings   Faraday, Maxwell and the Electromagnetic Field, How Two Men Revolutionized Physics, by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon, Prometheus Books, 2014, ISBN 978-1-61614-942-0. Online readings, videos and classroom demonstrations will supplement the book.

Preparation Time   1-2 hours/week

Biography   Frank Segall, a retired physician, has had a decades-long interest in the physical sciences. As a teenager, he was an amateur radio operator. At a summer high school science program, he took a course on the life of Michael Faraday by one of that scientist’s major biographers.  Frank majored in mathematics, and he also studied some physics and engineering at the college level. These subjects were largely set aside when his medical training began.  As a physician, Frank taught nephrology (kidney medicine) at the bedside or in the lecture hall for 37 years. This is his third year at BOLLI.

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ART10-5a-Tue3  What Am I Looking At?—Fresh Perspectives on Art by Creative Thinkers 

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Diane Winkelman

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

             5 week course - September 21- October 19

Description   How do creative people—writers, comedians, actors and other artists—look at art? How can we gain new perspectives on our own journeys as museum goers? This exploration of the visual arts will examine how a variety of creative thinkers experience other artists’ work. By looking at artworks and watching videos in which Steve Martin, Roz Chast, Alex Katz, Steven Pinker, Kehinde While and Jeff Koons perceive and talk about art, we will try to answer the question, “What can I learn and apply to my own experience of art?” Perhaps the response of a cartoonist looking at Renaissance art will provide a new twist to our own thinking.

     Each class will feature a specific theme: Performance Art, Visual Processing and Art, Humor in Art, Art about Justice, and the Intersection of Music and Art. Our discussions will be based on selections from the video collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art/BBC, which feature leading creative thinkers discussing how particular artworks inspire or provoke. We will explore how our own life experiences inform the way we look at art, discuss whether it’s an emotional or intellectual experience, and what types of art we are drawn to. The class will be interactive: sometimes we will break into small groups and reunite to share our responses to specific artworks. Participants will have an opportunity to make brief presentations, and we will be joined by a retired docent from two art museums at one meeting. 

Readings   Videos and selected articles posted on Google Site for the course.   

Preparation Time   Approximately 1 hour per week

Biography   Diane Winkelman is a retired Speech Language Pathologist. Her career has included teaching language development courses at the college level and accent modification therapy with adults. Riding the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan to visit museums as a teenager was the beginning of an interest in art and museums. She is a life-long museum “nerd” and is currently going through museum withdrawal. The silver lining of discovering a new way to interact with art during the pandemic provided the impetus for this course.

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SCI4-5a-Tue3  Pages from the Neurologist’s Notebook: Insights from Oliver Sacks

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Mercedes Villalonga 

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

5 week course - September 21 - October 19

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

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

Preparation Time   2-3 hours/week (20-30 pages)

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

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FILM1-5b-Tue3  Food in Dramatic Films: Pass the Popcorn Please

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Toby Kusmer

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

5 week course - October 26 - November 30

(No Class November 23)

Description   Film can dramatize and bring peoples’ personal struggles and culture to life on the big screen so that viewers gain insight into how characters cope and relate to each other. In all cultures one outstanding and universal aspect of life that connects people is food. For each class we will discuss a dramatic film from a different country where food is a McGuffin (a device used to motivate characters but insignificant in itself) designed to help show how people live their lives in intimate ways.  While many such dramatic films exist, the movies tentatively selected are from five different countries:  Babbette’s Feast (Denmark), Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Taiwan), The Lunchbox (India), Tampopo (Japan) and Like Water For Chocolate (Mexico).

Readings   The selected movies are all currently available on one or more popular streaming services, and can be rented for $2.99 or $3.99 from Amazon, Netflix or YouTube. Supplementary reading materials will be provided electronically.

Preparation Time   The preparation time will include viewing the movie before class and is estimated to be 2-3 hours for each class.

Biography   Toby Kusmer is married with two adult daughters who live in the Boston area.  He is a retired patent attorney, and an avid lover of movies since childhood.  When he was 11 years old his family moved within walking distance of two arthouse theatres, and he hasn’t stopped enjoying film since.  He and his wife are not known for their cooking, but love to entertain and break bread with old and new friends and acquaintances, relying on a wide variety of take-out restaurants and caterers, and pot luck meals.  It helps that both their daughters are excellent cooks.

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