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Fall 2021 Course Schedule | Wednesday

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.


Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Time Class

Period 1
9:30 am to 10:55 am

Four Hundred Souls: Unfamiliar Facts and Untold Truths from African American History
Paula Barta


The World of Work: A History of US Labor and the Future of Work
Mark Erlich
5 week course - September 22 - October 20

Can Journalism in 2021 be Fair and Truthful? You Decide
Terry Lee

Period 2
11:10 am to 12:35 pm

Abstract Watercolor: Beauty Is Where You Find It
Quinn Rosefsky


Current Events: Section 1
Lois Sockol
 

“Who Cooked The Last Supper” and Other Innovative Achievements of Women
Estherann Grace
 

The Civil War: Was It Inevitable?
Steve Messinger

12:35 pm to 2:00 pm

Break

Period 3
2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

The Private Lives of the Impressionists and Their Art
Nancy Alimansky


The Weight of Ink: An In-depth Look into a Work of Historical Fiction
Naomi Schmidt
5 week course - October 27 - December 1
(No Class November 24)


A Shock to the System: First Takes on How the Trump Era Has Transformed American Life
Lois Ambash

Leonard Cohen: “There’s a Crack in Everything”
Julian Moehring

Exploring Different Literary Interpretations of Wars’ Tolls
David Moskowitz

 


Making Italians: Building National Identity Across One Hundred Years of Unified Italy
Amy King
5 week course - September 22 - October 20

 


H&G2-10-Wed1 Four Hundred Souls: Unfamiliar Facts and Untold Truths from African American History

Study Group Leader (SGL)  – Paula Barta

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24) 

Description   “This is a war narrative.  This is a horror story, but it’s also a suspense thriller that ends in triumph.  It also ends in tragedy.  It’s a true story about a fantastic myth.  This is a narrative, non-fiction account of the all-American fairy tale of liberty and justice for all.”                                                      Michael Harriot, Four Hundred Souls.

     This course is based on Four Hundred Souls, A Community History of African America, 1619-2019.  The book is divided into ten sections, each covering a forty-year period in eight short chapters and a poem.  Ninety writers of color explore five-year periods using various formats: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. The essays are written by journalists, sociologists, college professors, and social justice activists.  They present various perspectives through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people, through places, laws, and objects.  The book tells the stories of African American communities across America.  Class discussions will include the role of slavery in the creation of the nation and the development of laws that supported slavery.  Our readings will touch on the Civil War, the end of slavery, what happened during reconstruction and, how and where Jim Crow laws maintained caste limitations on African Americans. We will look at the real and illusory progress of the Civil Rights era; zoning laws and economic inequality. Finally, we will discuss how reading Black history written by Black authors has informed our understanding of the racial challenges still unresolved in 2021.

Readings   Four Hundred Souls, A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blaine. ISBN-13: 9780593134047. ISBN-10: 0593134044.

Additional readings and videos will be posted on the Google Site.

Preparation Time   Less than 2 hours weekly.  

Biography   Paula Barta is an avid learner who has been a BOLLI participant since 2019.  She spent her career working in nonprofit organizations in San Francisco and Boston.  With a BA in French and an MBA, Paula is happiest when learning something new. This is her first time as a Study Group Leader. Paula feels that learning about this history, deliberately excluded from most textbooks, will broaden our perspectives and be particularly relevant now, when the country is in flux socially, racially and politically.

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H&G8-5a-Wed1  The World of Work: A History of US Labor and the Future of Work

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Mark Erlich

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

  5 week course - September 22 - October 20

Description   The story of labor is as rich and complex as any part of American history. Beginning in the late 19th century, unions fought to establish a presence in our political and economic life. Following the Great Depression, workers organized on an unprecedented scale, leading to a social contract between labor and business. This created a long period of prosperity following World War II that came to a crashing halt in the late 1970s and 1980s when the business community, supported by an emerging right-wing political opposition, launched an assault on union influence and drove an agenda that diminished the percentage of American workers in unions from 35% to 10%. Globalization and the fissuring of the economy contributed to labor’s decline as well. Today, the smaller but leaner labor movement is the only major institution in our society that routinely speaks on behalf of working people. There are hopeful signs of creative forms of organizing in the changing workforce – among low-waged workers, women and workers of color, and workers in the new “innovation economy.” But the 21st century economy is defined by increasingly precarious conditions and limited job security. While some argue that organized labor is an obsolete institution, others maintain that worker organizations are needed now more than ever in the face of extreme income inequality and continued global corporate power. The class will be primarily lecture with some class discussion.

Readings   Beaten Down, Worked Up by Steven Greenhouse 

Preparation Time   1 hour/week   

Biography   Mark Erlich is a Wertheim Fellow at the Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program after retiring as Executive Secretary-Treasurer (EST) of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters in 2017.  In addition to his career in the trades and the labor movement, Erlich has written and lectured extensively on labor issues.  He is the author of two books, With Our Hands: The Story of Carpenters in Massachusetts (1986) and Labor at the Ballot Box (1990), both published by Temple University Press.  He has also written dozens of essays, articles, and op-eds on labor history and contemporary union issues.

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 SOC6-10-Wed1  Can Journalism in 2021 be Fair and Truthful? You Decide

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Terry Lee

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   What does it mean to say that news reporting is "fair," "balanced," or "even-handed"? How can one know when a news story is slanted—biased? Is it possible to report news from an objective standpoint? U.S. journalists in 2021 are under scrutiny perhaps as no time before, a time when their work is critically essential to sustaining our democracy. Journalists make complex decisions when reporting and editing stories, including when to—and whether to—publish stories that harm. In fact, journalists have a duty to harm, given their constitutionally protected role as watchdogs. But where do they draw the line? In their work to inform and empower citizens, journalists live in a world of facts. Some scholars suggest, however, that facts are not enough, that we need a "pragmatic objectivity" in which contextual and interpretive news reporting is essential in an effort to get at "truth," although truth can be variable, depending on one's perspective. How does a reporter or editor interpret without "slanting" a story? And what obligations should citizens fulfill as "consumers" of news? This 10-week class will use brief essays by scholars and former journalists, as well as news stories published this year in print and online. There will be some online reading of brief Op-Ed columns. This is largely a discussion class in which we will analyze U.S journalism from many perspectives, focusing on print and online media.

Readings   Readings will be posted as PDFs on the SGL's website and/or as web links.

Preparation Time   2-3 hours/week   

Biography   Terry Lee’s first career was as a journalist for Syracuse Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y. He later earned a PhD in British literature and had a thirty-year career teaching journalism and literature. He retired from Christopher Newport University, a public college in Virginia, in 2017, where he spent the last fifteen years also producing short films on aging, caregiving, and hospice. He has taught adult learners in Virginia, at the Washington Heights Hebrew Y in Manhattan, as well as Auburn Correctional Facility in Auburn, N.Y. His work is available on his professional website, www.risingpress.org.

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ART7-10-Wed2  Abstract Watercolor: Beauty Is Where You Find It

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Quinn Rosefsky

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   Are you curious about abstract art? Do you have a tolerance for the unexpected? Have you thought about giving acrylic or watercolor a try? Perhaps a beginner’s course using watercolor as your medium is a feasible option. The main prerequisites are flexibility, patience, and tolerance for the unexpected. To put our work together into context, we will look at several impressionist and abstract artists who sometimes used watercolors (e.g., Paul Cezanne, JMW Turner, Wassily Kandinsky). We will pay attention to the basic properties of watercolor (translucence and light bouncing off the whiteness of the paper). And, as we paint together, we will explore the centrality of color, form, and composition. On our journey, we will look at interactions water has with different types of paper and pigment; the usefulness of the “wet on wet” technique; and the need to respond rapidly to a myriad of choices in a limited amount of “time.” Participants will attempt to create tension without appearing frenetic. They will learn first-hand the more common pitfalls: too much water; unwanted color dominance; over-focus on one portion of the painting. Class time on Zoom will provide a relaxed atmosphere during which to paint as well as receive input from the SGL and fellow participants. The participants will also build their own internal “critic” capable of differentiating what has temporary staying power from what is more durable. While challenging, the goal of this hands-on course is not to become an expert. Students must have some facility using a computer.

Readings   No books required. Website will incorporate pictures and readings pertinent to each week. Using basic materials only, the cost of painting materials is about $140.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Set of 12 Tubes (00325-2129) $31); Arches Watercolor block, 20 sheets, cold press, 7” x 10” ($25); Plastic Tray Palette ($5-20); White Synthetic Round Brush, Size 24 ($40;) Palette knife ($4;) Lamicall Gooseneck cell phone clamp clip ($20 at Amazon;) small sprayer to wet paints ($5-10.) Websites to purchase materials: “DickBlick”, “Jerry’sArtarama”, “CheapJoe’s”                                      

Preparation Time   Website will contain approximately five to seven pages, sometimes more, of reading that should take no more than one-half hour per week. Time to do a single small watercolor should be about 30 minutes.

Biography   Quinn Rosefsky is a retired psychiatrist, whose practice focused on children and adults. He spent the final years of his career working with Native Americans. In retirement, he enjoys creativity (writing and watercolor) and the process of putting together and leading or co-leading BOLLI courses. He is a member of the SGSC.

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CE1-10-Wed2   Current Events: Section 1

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Lois Sockol 

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

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

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

Preparation Time   1 - 2 hours/week.

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

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SOC4-10-Wed2  “Who Cooked The Last Supper” and Other Innovative Achievements of Women

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Estherann Grace

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   The historical impact of women innovators who have created or contributed to society’s well-being, scientific discoveries, and the arts has often been largely overlooked, or the credit they deserve has been outright denied. For example, did you know that in the 20th century Dr. MaryEllen Avery identified Surfactant, saving the lives of countless premature newborns, while in the same time frame, Lizzy Magie invented the board game, Monopoly? Our class will attempt to correct these oversights. We will focus on women’s accomplishments and the obstacles they overcame as they pursued their goals. The 17th through 21st centuries will be scanned for prominent innovations created by women. Two or three of these women will be the focus of each session with emphasis on their humanity/essence, so often concealed behind the driving force of their personality. Two books by Rosalie Miles, Who Cooked the Last Supper? The Women’s History of the World and The Women’s History of the Modern World will help us explore just how these women persisted despite society imposing submissive roles on them. This included limiting them to the roles of mother, housewife, and at times as chattel, while often denying them the rights of education, voting, and ownership. This course will look at women’s achievements, recognizing and celebrating their amazing survival skills and brilliance of accomplishments through the centuries.

     We did and will continue to “persist”!

Readings   Who Cooked the Last Supper by Rosalind Miles

The Women’s History of the Modern World by Rosalind Miles

Preparation Time   1 to 2 hours of reading.

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

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H&G15-10-Wed2  The Civil War: Was It Inevitable?

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Steve Messinger

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   The study of America’s past is a view into its future. One hundred fifty years ago, the United States fought the costliest war in its history.  Brother against brother….North against South…The hope and promise of the Founding Fathers shattered.  Did it have to be? If there were polling organizations in 1840, only twenty years before the war began, a significant majority of Americans, North and South, would not have anticipated a civil war.  What happened?  Was it really inevitable?  While many historians claim the wheels were set in motion with the United States Constitution, a branch of historians claim that better, smarter, less petty politicians could have prevented it. We will look at the causes: sectionalism, the tariff, industrialization versus single crop agriculture, honor, and of course, slavery.  It is as questionable for the North to say it was all about slavery, as it is questionable for the South to say it was all about states’ rights.  Different societies developed in the United States over four score and seven years.  Were they so incompatible that only war could recreate a United States of America?  We will start with the U.S. Constitution and its protection of slavery and concludes when Lincoln calls up the states’ militia to confront the rebellion in the South.  This course is not about the war itself but why it happened and whether it had to happen. It will be mainly lectures with some discussion.

Readings   The Causes of the Civil War by Paul Calore. ISBN 978-0-7864-3304-9.

Preparation Time   About 30 pages 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 thirteenth opportunity to be an SGL.

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ART1-10-Wed3  The Private Lives of the Impressionists and Their Art

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Nancy Alimansky

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   We will discover who the Impressionists were as people and how they came together in Paris in 1860: their unconventional lives, their loves, personalities, themes in their work and the friendships they shared.  We will also learn about the history of the period between 1860-1886 and explore the political and social context in which Impressionism developed.  We will study the work of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Edouard Manet, Gustave Caillebotte and Mary Cassatt.

  This course is much more than a survey of the Impressionist movement.  The SGL will explain how to analyze a painting in terms of the principles and elements of design.  For each class there will be several key works which we will analyze in depth in terms of the techniques the artist used to achieve a successful result. By the end of the course you, too, will probably feel comfortable and confident with making your own analysis. The SGL will show a slide presentation of paintings each week and expect students to participate in the discussion of the works. Prior knowledge is not required. Assignments will include reading from the text and additional articles, answering study questions and viewing videos.

Readings   The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, ISBN 0060545593, ISBN 9780060545598, Harper Collins. New or used paperback or hardcover with a young woman on the cover, NOT Vintage edition with the bearded man. The rest of the course material will be on Google sites, including study questions, images and additional reading and videos.   

Preparation Time   There will be approximately 30 pages of reading/week. The preparation time should be between 2 to 3 hours for the book, study questions and the short articles. An additional two hours may be necessary to read all the supplementary articles and watch the videos.

Biography   This will be Nancy Alimansky’s 21st teaching experience at BOLLI. Nancy has spent most of her professional life in the classroom. For 26 years she was an Associate Professor at Lesley University and taught courses in management and technology as well as studio art. For three years she was a docent at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College where she conducted tours for various exhibits. Nancy has a B.A from Wellesley College, an MAT from Harvard Graduate School of Education and an MBA from Boston College. She has been a professional artist for more than 30 years.

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LIT12-5b-Wed3  The Weight of Ink: An In-depth Look into a Work of Historical Fiction

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Naomi Schmidt

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

5 week course - October 27 - December 1

(No Class November 24)

Description   Reading a work of historical fiction often raises a number of questions:  How accurate is the depiction of the time period in which it takes place? Which of the characters are real people, and which are invented by the author?  Are the interactions between the characters – conversations, letters, etc. – based on actual evidence or are they just made up in order to advance the story?  Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Ink, has spoken about her years of research in writing this novel, which takes place in both the 17th century and the present day, and how she has tried to craft an imagined story against the background of actual history. In this class we will read the book over the course of five sessions, enjoying and discussing the story and its characters, while at the same time looking at the period in which it is set.  We will investigate the Sephardic Jewish communities of 17th--century Amsterdam and London, the philosophical issues debated by secular and religious scholars of the time, the changes in English society during the Restoration period, and everyday life in London during those years. We will also look at how historians work with rare manuscripts in doing research into the past. This class should be stimulating for those who have already read the novel and are revisiting it, as well as for those encountering it for the first time.

Readings    The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

Preparation Time   Approximately 120 pages per session, 3 hours

Biography   Naomi Schmidt has led or co-led a number of BOLLI courses, including Invitation to the Dance and Science Fiction. She taught The New York Experience, Utopias Real and Imagined, The 1960s, and The 1920s with Tamara Chernow; and Foreign Films of the 1950s and 1960s with Peter Schmidt. Author Rachel Kadish’s talk at BOLLI this spring, along with a subsequent re-reading of this novel, has stimulated her to think of leading an in-depth, extended discussion of its content and background.

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H&G1-10-Wed3  A Shock to the System: First Takes on How the Trump Era Has Transformed American Life

Study Group Leader (SGL) -  Lois Ambash

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   Wherever you started on the political spectrum and wherever you’ve landed, Donald Trump’s presidency and the movement it inspired have dramatically transformed our political, social, and cultural landscape and prompted reconsideration of the very meaning of America. The Trump era has exposed long-suppressed concerns about values, identity, our relative places in the American polity, and our form of government itself.  We’ve begun to confront the pervasive decline of truth in public life and to wonder how we can maintain our cohesion as a country when we choose our own news, embrace our own facts, and define ourselves by gender, race, class, or political convictions. Some of us believe our government is in thrall to a sinister deep state; others trust in a dedicated, expert federal workforce. We’ve started to ask existential questions: Can our democracy be preserved, or has it begun a descent toward autocracy? What does it mean to be a patriot? Who gets to tell the American story? We’ll use the framework suggested by Carlos Lozada’s What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era, to examine questions like these. The book offers a nuanced and even-handed overview of some 150 Trump-era books, many of which transcend the Trump presidency or don’t mention it at all. We’ll sample them by reading excerpts and essays, consider how the authors grapple with ideas Trump’s presidency has brought to the surface, and propose critical questions for scholars and thinkers in the America of now.

Readings    Carlos Lozada, What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era 

Supplementary materials to be posted on the course website.

Preparation Time   50-75 pages per week. Occasional videos or podcasts

Biography   Lois Ambash has been a reference librarian, a dean, a professor, and a consultant. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English, master’s degrees in public policy and library science, and an interdisciplinary PhD in American culture. Her most fulfilling professional endeavors have involved working with adult learners.

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MUS4-10-Wed3  Leonard Cohen: “There’s a Crack in Everything”

Study Group Leader (SGL) - Julian Moehring

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   Who was Leonard Cohen?  He had many identities: novelist, poet, lyricist, musician, Jewish mystic, Buddhist monk, Canadian, Montrealer, lover (but never a husband), father, and, perhaps above all, a man searching for something we might call meaning or truth in the world he inhabited.  Did he find it? By exploring his identities, we will interpret what Cohen left behind, from a “lullaby for suffering” to the broken Hallelujah of a "manual for living with defeat."  We will begin with a documentary film, I'm Your Man, that includes many of Cohen's best-known songs performed by other artists, and we will end with the album released before his death, “You Want it Darker,” which might be described as Cohen having composed and sung his own Kaddish. In between, we will read and discuss, listen and discuss, remembering that: "There's a crack, a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in.”

Readings    The SGL will provide all materials, including articles, an excerpt from Cohen’s first novel, poetry, lyrics for multiple songs, and links to YouTube videos.  Please watch the film, I’m Your Man, prior to the first class.

Preparation Time   Estimate 1.5 - 2 hours/week

Biography   Julian Moehring is a singer-songwriter, pianist and music producer from Germany. While studying jazz piano, composition and conducting at Berklee College of Music, he discovered the music of Leonard Cohen, which inspired him to move away from instrumental music and fully commit to songwriting. He now works as a songwriter, producer and accompanist for singers in jazz, folk and pop genres. Tours under his artist name Julian Moreen have brought him to Asia (Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia), Europe (Germany, Switzerland, France, Slovakia, Czech Republic) and the United States. 

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LIT10-10-Wed3 Exploring Different Literary Interpretations of Wars’ Tolls

Study Group Leader (SGL) - David Moskowitz

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

10 week course - September 22 - December 1

 (No class November 24)

Description   Who doesn’t know that war is hell? That’s why the phrase “anti-war novel” is a pointless term. Who writes a pro-war book? Here, we consider five acclaimed authors’ distinctive approaches to convey a war’s toll on its participants. Our five books will be read in the order listed below this description. We start with a novel about the Korean conflict, explore the war in Vietnam from both the North Vietnamese and American perspectives, then move onto the war in Iraq. Four of these authors, actual combatants, had firsthand knowledge. Each novel should be fully read prior to the two weeks devoted to its discussion.

  Why nations go to war and the means by which war is conducted are not this course’s aim. Rather, our focus is about war’s effects on individuals. Is a soldier more concerned with being a hero or just surviving? Survival is a double-edged sword when a former North Vietnamese soldier must cope with a devastated country after so many years away. Is adjustment even possible? What drives a soldier to go AWOL and what response might we expect from his platoon mates? “Buddy” relationships can help a soldier cope but can also add stress as a soldier worries about more than just himself. How do you cope when not all of your mates survive? Finally, how does America react to its war heroes? Does a R&R break make it easier or harder to return? These are among the issues we will explore in depth in this course.

Readings    The Hunters by James Salter, The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien, The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Preparation Time   Approximately 134 pages per week

Biography   David Moskowitz holds a B.S. degree from the Wharton School of the Univ. of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Harvard. His legal career was spent predominantly as a general counsel, including 11 years as Brandeis’ initial general counsel. This is his 12th BOLLI-led course (24th time leading), and 9th literature course. This is David’s second BOLLI course focused on war. He encourages dynamic, vibrant class discussions into which he tries to inject humor, although this topic does not lend itself easily to that.

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H&G12-5a-Wed3 Making Italians: Building National Identity Across One Hundred Years of Unified Italy 

Study Group Leader (SGL) – Amy King

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

  5 week course - September 22 - October 20

Description   “We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians.” Spoken by the Italian statesman Massimo d’Azeglio at the dawn of unification, these provocative words expose the challenge of creating a bond between the state and civil society. This short course will examine the impact of political, economic and social developments on Italian identity in the 100 years since unification. In the first week, we will analyze the portrayal of the great national hero Garibaldi in artwork and consider the role of opera and the national anthem in presenting a united Italy. We will then move our attention to World War I and the unifying experience of fighting a world war as one nation and honoring the dead as Italians. Week three takes us to Mussolini’s Italy; here, we will discuss the role of Fascist rallies in asserting one nation, look at the regime’s visual propaganda and touch on its ambition to create a new Roman Empire. Next, we address the construction of a postwar Republic founded on antifascism and discuss the impact of the Economic Boom of the 1950s – including the mass migration it enabled – on Italian identity at home and abroad. Our last session brings us into the 1960s – a great period of social reform. Here, we will consider the efforts of Italy’s student movement to overturn the rigid social hierarchies that had taken root. Students will develop their knowledge of Italy’s history and think critically about the rituals, symbols and products that contribute to national identity more broadly. 

Readings   Primary text: Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny (London: Penguin Books, 2008)

Additional reading will be provided by the SGL.

Preparation Time   Around 100 pages of reading per week, primarily from The Force of Destiny (see above). The SGL will also set an artwork/song/advertisement to analyze each week to prompt discussion. Weekly analysis should not take longer than 30 minutes.    

Biography   Dr. Amy King is a lecturer in Liberal Arts at the University of Bristol, where she has taught a number of courses on modern Italian history and culture. A specialist in Memory Studies, her current research addresses the role of secular martyr stories during Mussolini’s dictatorship. While working toward a PhD, Amy held fellowships at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress, and the British School at Rome. She is currently writing her first book on the memory of a political attack on a far-right family in Rome, 1973.


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