2022 Spring Online & In-Person Courses

A Mother’s Choice: Reading Toni Morrison’s "Beloved"

Group Leader: DIANE THOMPSON
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/4/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 4 | Class Size: 25

In 1856, Margaret Garner, an enslaved woman, escaped to freedom with her husband and four young children. They travelled from Boone County, Kentucky to Ohio. When confronted by slave catchers and U.S. Marshals and facing return to her enslaver, Margaret made the ultimate sacrifice. This true story inspired Toni Morrison’s haunting novel Beloved. In this course we will spend four weeks reading and discussing the novel. In it the author reimagines Margaret’s story through Sethe, who is living with shadows from her past. We will discuss Morrison’s representations…

American Landscape: Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School

Group Leader: ELLEN LONGSWORTH
Meets on: Thursdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/7/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

The transient, the eternal, the decorative, the sacred ─ all find expression in landscape painting. Thomas Cole (1801-1848), Frederic Church, and other American painters of the so-called Hudson River School are among those artists whose vision of Nature was transformative, and whose work provides the foundation for this course. Subjects for discussion include, but are not limited to: the creative process; American landscape as an expression of spiritual and national identity; and the picturesque and the sublime.

Columbus’s Controversial Origins and the Diary of his Voyages

Group Leader: FRANCESCA PIANA
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/20/2022
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Sessions: 4 | Class Size: 24

Please Note: There is a chance that this in-person course may need to be moved online. Christopher Columbus has never been more of a controversial figure than he is today. Although he was acclaimed for centuries as the discoverer of the New World, his name now connotes the abuses and destruction suffered by the indigenous populations of the New World. Columbus was somewhat of a mystery in his own day. The diary of his voyages reveals not only his reaction to the events that were unfolding before him,…

Contemporary Russian Cinema

Group Leader: CATHY MANNICK
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/8/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 25

This 5-session course will present an overview of Russian cinema during four key periods of contemporary Russian history. The tentative film list is as follows: 1) The Gorbachev era and perestroika: Repentance (filmed in 1984, released in 1987), directed by Tengiz Abuladze2) The Yeltsin era: Brother (1997), directed by Aleksei Balabanov3) Putin’s first presidential term (1999-2008): Russian Ark (2002), directed by Alexander Sokurov4) Putin’s second Presidential term (2012-present): Leviathan, (2014) directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev The course will focus on the cultural and historical context in which the films…

Do We Have Time for This? An Introduction to the Physical Laws of Timekeeping

Group Leader: SANDOR ILLENYI
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 4/6/2022
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 20

Measuring and keeping time must have interested our prehistoric ancestors, and it became a necessity as soon as humans began to build societies. This course will explore the concept of time in several of its aspects and survey calendaring systems and measuring units, both of which were based first on the observation of nature and then on the continuous discovery of physical laws. We will examine these physical laws and discuss how their discovery resulted in more accuracy and precision, which in turn led to previously unimagined applications.…

Emerging Biosciences – Straight from the Lab

Group Leader: AMY TSURUMI and DEBARGHYA SAKAR
Meets on: Fridays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/4/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

In this seminar, a series of presentations on current biomedical research will provide a unique look at cutting-edge developments in diverse biomedical areas at the world’s largest medical research center. Each session will feature postdoctoral fellows from the Massachusetts General Hospital presenting their own research. The course will provide a survey of compelling emerging research topics offered directly by the experts conducting the work. A short discussion will follow each lecture. One of the sessions will examine how imaging the activity of neuronal networks contributes to the understanding…

Isn’t it Ironic? Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus

Group Leader: ROBERT MANNING
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/31/2022
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 14

Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, which was not awarded first prize when it was first performed, was praised by Aristotle as the most perfect of tragedies. Aristotle’s judgment has surely won the day, for Oedipus is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. Indeed, since the time of Aristotle, Oedipus has been a continuous source of inspiration for works of philosophy, art, literature, psychology, music, and more. This course will examine the dramatic text closely and analyze its poetic construction. What makes this play so powerful, even after nearly two…

Margaret Atwood: Short Stories and Poems

Group Leader: PAM BROMBERG
Meets on: Wednesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 3/30/2022
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 18

Canadian author Margaret Atwood may be best known today for her 1986 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale and its television series spin-off, but she is the author of an extraordinary body of work that continues to expand in her ninth decade. Atwood is the prodigiously brilliant author of 17 novels, 10 short story collections, 18 volumes of poetry, 7 children’s books, and 10 non-fiction books. This course will begin with Atwood’s 1991 short story collection, Wilderness Tips, and some of her poems that treat similar themes. Atwood’s prose,…

On With The Show! Producing Live Theatre in Boston

Group Leader: MATT CHAPURAN
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/19/2022
Venue: Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 30

Have you ever wanted to know what it takes to produce a play in Boston today? Here is your chance! In this course Lyric Stage Company of Boston Executive Director, Matt Chapuran, will guide you through the process of creating live theatre. Participants will be encouraged to brainstorm ideas for original plays, explore their narratives, understand why the ideas are relevant at this moment, and investigate the challenges that a producer would face with a particular production. We will then learn about the essential elements of the theatre…

Pioneer Women in the Civil War

Group Leader: LINDA BERGER
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 1/31/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 35

Of all the wars in the history of the United States, the Civil War is the only one fought intensely in the midst of the lives of its women. Not only was it fought in their houses and fields, towns and cities, but it also decimated their families and destroyed their lifestyles and culture. This course looks at some of those affected women through their personal diaries, journals and memoirs, popular forms of expression in the 19th century. The writings of Mary Chestnut, Kate Stone, Belle Boyd and…

Presidential Health and Illness throughout History: Bloodletting, Bad Cherries and Ballistics

Group Leader: KEVIN LOUGHLIN
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/1/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

It is remarkable how often American presidents, the most powerful individuals on the planet, have received uneven health care. This course will examine the illnesses, some trivial and some serious, of our chief executives. Assassinations and attempted assassinations will be discussed in detail. The political consequences and cover-ups of presidential illnesses will also be analyzed. The role of presidential physicians and their contributions to both the health and illnesses of our commanders-in-chief will be critiqued. Finally, we will discuss proposals that have been considered to evaluate and disclose the…

Raphael, Painter of Beauty

Group Leader: LIANA CHENEY
Meets on: Thursdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 2/3/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

This seminar focuses on the art of Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio of Urbino, 1483–1520). This High Renaissance painter lived most of his life in Rome, the “eternal city.” Under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael composed works of art that were infused with atmospheric perspective, softened color transitions (sfumato), brilliance of color, anatomical accuracy, and grazia (grace). His graceful forms and designs moved viewers and influenced artists throughout succeeding centuries, in particular the British Academy of Joshua Reynolds, the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and the artists of the…

Resilient Infrastructure: Can We Reduce Damage from Extreme Events?

Group Leader: JOHN SALO
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/29/2022
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

Recent extreme weather events like hurricane Ida and the ice storms and flooding in Texas demonstrate how vulnerable our infrastructure is. This class will explore how infrastructure can be planned and implemented in ways that will reduce the environmental and human impacts caused by extreme weather events and other catastrophic occurrences such as earthquakes, forest fires, and cyber-attacks. The course will focus primarily on water infrastructure, but because of water’s interrelationships with other infrastructure, we will also talk about linkages to energy systems and buildings. These questions help…

The Arts Of The Viceroyalties Of The Spanish Empire (1522-1810)

Group Leader: MARIA LUISA MANSFIELD
Meets on: Mondays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 1/31/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 7 | Class Size: 25

This course looks at the conquest and colonization of Spanish America, a unique and extraordinary undertaking by the Spanish Crown begun in 1492. In less than a century, Spain extended its dominions north to the Rio Bravo and south to Patagonia, creating Viceroyalties as it went along to enhance its colonies. The Spaniards destroyed cities and temples, but they also rebuilt old cities, founded new ones, and erected cathedrals and palaces. During the 16th century, artistic expressions and architectural forms not seen previously in Europe emerged. An original…

The Best of All Worlds

Group Leader: GEORGE MESZOLY
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/3/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

“[T]here is an infinitude of possible worlds among which God must needs have chosen the best, since he does nothing without acting in accordance with supreme reason. …” Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz from Theodicy (1709) Most of us have at times wondered what life was like in places and ages past. Can we imagine ourselves in Pharaonic Egypt, on the banks of the Nile, or wandering the halls of Greenwich Palace trailing King Henry, or perhaps, more heroically, defending the Alamo? In this seminar we will ask the question:…

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Group Leader: LEE BEHNKE
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/1/2022
Venue: Chilton Club, 152 Comm. Ave
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 14

The Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia, is regarded as the first great masterpiece of world literature. Over the last two centuries, Gilgamesh has been revealed on 12 stone tablets scattered around the area of ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. King Gilgamesh is an archetype of hero myths through the ages, from Achilles to Roland to Beowulf and on to modern superheroes. This adventure story has themes of friendship, conflict with the gods, dark forests and the search for immortality. We will…

The Mozart/DaPonte Operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte

Group Leader: BRADFORD CONNER and BENJAMIN SEARS
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 3/29/2022
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

In 1786 Mozart collaborated with poet Lorenzo Da Ponte to write The Marriage of Figaro, an opera based on a play by French author Pierre-Augustin Canon de Beaumarchais. The opera was an instant success and led the two to collaborate again with Don Giovanni in 1787 and Così fan tutte in 1790. Today these are considered to be Mozart’s finest operas and continue to be among his most popular works. This seminar will explore the background of the Mozart/DaPonte collaboration, how the stories were chosen, critical and audience…

This is the way the world ends …

Group Leader: STEVE HOLT
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/2/2022
Venue: Online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

Several scientists have recently written monographs for popular consumption on the subject of threats to civilization. In addition to the obvious threat of nuclear holocaust that we grew up fearing when we were children during the cold war, the authors address the probabilities of threats that include things like rogue asteroids, earthquakes, solar explosions, alien invasions and, of course, global warming. We’ll use available data to inform what we might conclude about how much we should be worrying about each of the threats that we identify, and consider…

Winston Churchill: A Remarkable and Varied Life

Group Leader: JOSEPH HERN
Meets on: Thursdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 3/31/2022
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 7 | Class Size: 24

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) led a long, active and varied life as a soldier, statesman, orator, journalist, author, painter – and bricklayer! Churchill entered the army in 1895 and fought in colonial wars at the century’s close. He headed the Royal Navy at the outbreaks of the Great War in 1914 and the Second World War in 1939. Falling from grace over the Dardanelles, Churchill served in the trenches of the Western Front. Trained as a cavalry officer, he was a visionary about modern warfare: godfather of the tank,…

Xanadu: The Life and Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Group Leader: TONY MERZLAK
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 3/28/2022
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 20

Kubla Khan, Christabel, Dejection Ode, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner: In this course we will read, discuss and re-read these and other great poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). Coleridge's troubled life, his drug addiction, and his frustrated love will be explored, along with his remarkable achievements in verse and prose. We'll also learn how Coleridge and his friend William Wordsworth ushered in the Romantic Age, my own favorite era that I hope to make one of yours. For useful context see "Romanticism" and "Romantic Literature in…