2024 Fall In-Person Courses

A History of Modern China

Group Leader: Lawrence Clifford
Meets on: Tuesday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/8/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

This course will explore the causal forces and events which have shaped the tumultuous history of China during the last century and through to today. It begins with the Revolution of 1911, which ended the failed imperial rule and established a Chinese republic, and which was followed by the rise of the Chinese Communist Party. The course will cover the decades-long civil war that ensued between the Communist and Nationalist parties and which ultimately led in 1949 to the establishment of the Communist Peoples Republic of China on…

A Taste of 3 Great Poets: Yeats, Auden, and Eliot

Group Leader: Liz Cabot
Meets on: Monday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/21/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

These three poets have roots in Anglo-American poetry of the early 20th century and the often agonizing politics of their time. Some poems reach out to national and international issues, and others reflect the poets’ personal values and concerns. We’ll look at both aspects of their work, not as a comprehensive study but as examples of the scope and intensity of their total output. For Yeats: nature and commitment to one woman, and Irish nationalism. For Auden: his tribute to Yeats and other moral positions. For Eliot: a…

Desegregation in Boston 50 Years Later

Group Leader: Lawrence DiCara
Meets on: Tuesday 10 AM to noon
Starting: 10/8/2024
Venue: The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 25

It has been 50 years since the Morgan v. Hennigan decision and the subsequent order issued by U. S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity mandating the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools. Now is an appropriate time for reflection on this momentous decision and its impact on Boston. This seminar will focus on the history of public education in Boston, the history of the School Committee, the impact and reactions to various court decisions, and the status of the Boston school system today, all with particular attention…

Interviews with History

Group Leader: Francesca Piana
Meets on: Wednesday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/9/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 25

Through the centuries, the destiny of nations and of millions of human beings has been in the hands of men and women with ambition, determination and power. In the past it was up to historians, through arduous research, to discover the personalities of these individuals and to understand what influenced them, how they thought, and what motivated them to act as they did. It is only after the end of World War II that interviews have made world leaders more accessible to us in our own time. Oriana…

Manuscripts Don't Burn: Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita

Group Leader: Edythe Haber
Meets on: Monday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/21/2024
Venue: Beacon Hill Friends House
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 20

The Master and Margarita, written "for the drawer" during the period of high Stalinism (between 1928 and Bulgakov's death in 1940), created a sensation when it was first published over a quarter-century after its completion. The novel has remained a popular favorite and is now considered a masterpiece of Russian 20th century literature. The multi- layered, complex work – an amalgam of a rollicking satire of devil-infested Communist Moscow, the tender love story of a persecuted writer and his beloved, and a decidedly non-canonical retelling of the Gospel…

Producing Live Theatre: From Back Stage to Center Stage

Group Leader: Kandyce Whittingham
Meets on: Thursday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/10/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 20

Behind the Scenes to the Stage! is a dynamic and immersive course designed to unravel the enchanting world of live theater production and performance. Tailored for those eager to delve into the intricacies of theatrical arts, this course offers a comprehensive exploration of the behind-the-scenes magic and hard-working people that bring a production to life at Lyric Stage Boston. One of the course highlights includes exclusive insider knowledge and behind-the-scenes looks at Lyric Stage’s upcoming production of Noises Off! by Michael Frayn. Participants will have the unique opportunity…

The Iliad: Books 13–18

Group Leader: Robert Manning
Meets on: Friday 10 AM to noon
Starting: 10/11/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 16

This course will be a book-by-book close reading of books 13 through 18 of the Iliad, the great epic of ancient Greece. The Iliad is the earliest work in the ancient Greek language, written down sometime around 750–730 b.c. Attributed to Homer, the Iliad was constructed by generations of bards orally retelling and commemorating in song a war fought in previous generations over the plains of Troy. The epic tells the tale of the wrath of the Greeks’ greatest warrior, Achilles, whose withdrawal from the conflict changes the…

The Operas of Puccini

Group Leader: Benjamin Sears & Bradford Conner
Meets on: Wednesday 3:30 to 5:30 PM
Starting: 10/9/2024
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

Giacomo Puccini, who died 100 years ago this year, remains one of the most popular composers of Italian opera. While nowhere near as prolific as Rossini, Donizetti, or Verdi, five of his ten operas are always in production somewhere in the world. Puccini is the greatest master of the verismo (realism) style that sought to portray reality rather than mythology or kings and queens. Drawing from the verismo settings, Puccini’s music evokes strong emotional responses. This seminar will look at his “big three” operas – La Bohème, Tosca,…

The Silk Road: Hard Stones and Hot Sands

Group Leader: George Meszoly
Meets on: Thursday 10 AM to noon
Starting: 10/10/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

“…the Wealth of Ormuz and of Ind, Or where the gorgeous East with richest band Showers on her kings barbaric pearls and gold…” —John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II Around 60 AD, Pliny the Elder registered the first known complaint against unfair trade, noting that the trade in silk from the East cost the Roman Empire at least 60 million sesterces per annum, a sum sufficient to pay the salaries of one third of the legions of the Empire. In fact, silk traded for its weight in gold.…

Thinking about Democracy in the Midst of the 2024 US Campaign for the Presidency

Group Leader: Mark Yessian
Meets on: Thursday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/10/2024
Venue: Chilton Club
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 17

The campaign is underway. And the fate of democracy is clearly part of the conversation. But just what do we the people and our leaders mean by democracy? How are we practicing it in a nation long regarded as its exemplar? Once the election is decided and the victor declares that he has a mandate to govern, what conclusions can we begin to draw from the ten-month long campaign season and on what it portends? In our discussion-focused course we will take on these questions, drawing on both…

“Fair is Foul”: Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”

Group Leader: Tony Merzlak
Meets on: Tuesday 3:30 to 5:30 PM
Starting: 10/8/2024
Venue: TBD
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 16

In this late masterpiece, Shakespeare asks how a man and a woman guilty of horrible crimes can still attain the audience’s empathy that tragic protagonists require. Using the excellent Norton Critical Edition, we will answer this question and many others about origins, witchcraft, and the rich reception history of “Macbeth.” YouTube performances will enhance our enjoyment of “the Scottish play.”

“It Can't Happen Here”: Authoritarianism In Modern Europe and 21st-Century USA

Group Leader: Ed Quattlebaum
Meets on: Wednesday 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 10/9/2024
Venue: Beacon Hill Friends House
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 16

In 1935, encouraged by his journalist spouse Dorothy Thompson, Sinclair Lewis published the dystopian novel It Can’t Happen Here—-his most popular work to date. Adolph Hitler was the “It” that Lewis had in mind, along with America’s own 1930’s populist Huey Long. But modern Europe had other authoritarians besides Hitler. Ian Kershaw, in his 2022 book Personality and Power: Builders and Destroyers of Modern Europe, traces the rise of each of them—-Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin, and Franco, as well as Hitler himself. Trump is mentioned briefly three times in…