2023 Winter & Spring Online & In-Person Courses

America through Russian Eyes – Images of America in Soviet and Russian Cinema

Group Leader: CATHY MANNICK
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/7/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 7 | Class Size: 25

This five-session* course will examine the image of America and Americans, as well as other foreigners, in Soviet and contemporary Russian cinema. We will study films from four key periods of Russian history.  1. The Bolshevik 1920s: "The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks" (1924), directed by Lev Kuleshov;  2. The Stalin era: "Meeting on the Elbe" (1949), directed by Grigory Alexandrov;  3. The post-Stalin Thaw and Détente: "Autumn Marathon" (1979), directed by Georgii Daneliia;  4. The post-Soviet/Putin era: "Brother 2" (2000), directed…

Banned in Boston: How Censorship Reveals the Psyche of a City

Group Leader: JIM FALZARANO
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/11/2023
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 15

This course will examine the paradoxical nature of censorship in Boston, the “Athens of America.” Institutions such as the Boston Athenaeum and the Boston Public Library championed books even as the Watch and Ward Society was making “Banned in Boston” a national stigma. But even our cherished libraries sometimes resorted to keeping controversial books from public view. We will look at censorship through the prism of John Milton’s Areopagitica, his 1644 plea to Parliament to stop its licensing (pre-approval) of books. This seminal defense of free speech still…

Biomedical Advances: From the Bench to the Bedside and Beyond - Hybrid Online

Group Leader: CHARBEL GHARIOS and AMY TSURUMI
Meets on: Fridays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/10/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

This course offers a series of lectures covering a wide range of cutting-edge research topics in the biomedical sciences. In partnership with the Mass General Postdoc Association (MGPA), current research fellows (MDs or PhDs) at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School will deliver talks about their ongoing research. Two researchers will be featured weekly, and each presentation will be followed by an interactive Q&A session with class participants. Featured topics will provide a high-level survey of compelling research across the fields of oncology, infectious diseases, neuroscience,…

Biomedical Advances: From the Bench to the Bedside and Beyond - In Person

Group Leader: CHARBEL GHARIOS amd AMY TSURUMI
Meets on: Fridays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/10/2023
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

This course offers a series of lectures covering a wide range of cutting-edge research topics in the biomedical sciences. In partnership with the Mass General Postdoc Association (MGPA), current research fellows (MDs or PhDs) at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School will deliver talks about their ongoing research. Two researchers will be featured weekly, and each presentation will be followed by an interactive Q&A session with class participants. Featured topics will provide a high-level survey of compelling research across the fields of oncology, infectious diseases, neuroscience,…

Color: A Cultural and Scientific Journey

Group Leader: BETH SANDERS
Meets on: Wednesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/8/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

This class will explore humankind's extraordinary relationship with color. Each week we’ll reveal the meanings that have been attached to a primary or secondary color and the ways colors have shaped culture and imagination. We will uncover the essences of red, yellow, blue, orange, green and violet (the primary and secondary colors), based on their properties and visual resemblances. And what about black and white? Are they true colors or just shades? We will also trace the roles that colors have played in both culture and history and…

Culture Wars: The 1619 Project Controversies

Group Leader: PAUL KELLEHER
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/6/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 4 | Class Size: 25

In August 2019, The New York Times published an extraordinary collection of essays, poems, stories and photos entitled “The 1619 Project.” The Project proposes a “new origin story” for the United States, beginning in 1619 with the arrival in Virginia of the first ship carrying slaves rather than in 1776 with the beginning of the American Revolution. The Project argues that the history we have accepted and taught marginalizes the centrality of White supremacy and systemic racism, not only to slavery but also to the Revolution itself, Reconstruction,…

Ephemeral Architecture and Portable Artifacts in Islamic Art

Group Leader: MARIA LUISA MANSFIELD
Meets on: Mondays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/6/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 4 | Class Size: 25

Ephemeral structures are designed to be fleeting — they last a short period of time, are often fragile, and can be assembled and disassembled as needed. Portable artifacts can be easily moved or carried because they are light and functional. Islam was born among nomadic tribes constantly on the move that required transportable lodging in the form of tents. By the 9th century, although Islam had become an urban civilization, nomadic instincts remained alive in the subconscious. This course will examine the Persian Court (comprising palace, kiosk, and…

French Resistance: Myth or Reality? The story of Dora Bruder

Group Leader: DIANE COUTU
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 4/4/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 14

This course will focus on a short (124-page) book, Dora Bruder, by French Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano.  Part investigation, part memoir, Dora Bruder is about a teenaged Jewish girl who disappeared during the German occupation of France. This gentle, engaging read set in wartime Paris and the early post-war years blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction and offers alternative versions of reality. The book is a searching exploration of how the French understand (or imagine) their past, and of how all of us interpret our present.  You don’t need to know anything about occupied France…

In Her Eyes: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Group Leader: DIANE THOMPSON
Meets on: Fridays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/14/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 4 | Class Size: 28

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison has been challenged or banned by school districts across the country over a dozen times since 2000. It has appeared on the American Library Association’s Top Ten Banned Books lists in 2006, 2013, 2014, 2020, and 2021. Published in 1971, Morrison’s debut novel tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young Black girl growing up in Lorraine, Ohio in the 1940s. It is a poignant story that is as relevant in 2022 as it was 50 years ago. Yet why do some…

Is Green Energy Really Green and How Can It Be Part of a Balanced Energy Policy?

Group Leader: JOHN SALO
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/4/2023
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

The United States and other developed countries are aggressively moving to replace fossil fuels used in energy production with green energy sources. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to slow global warming. But are these green or renewable energy solutions (e.g. wind, solar, biomass, battery storage, and electric vehicles) as green as they might appear to be? Are there environmental, social and economic impacts associated with these non-fossil energy sources that need to be considered as we develop and implement sustainable and reliable…

Music in Salzburg 1650 to 1705

Group Leader: ANDRUS MADSEN
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/10/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 15

Although Salzburg sparkles with an abundance of well-known and beloved composers, this seminar will closely examine music written between 1650 and 1705, largely focusing on the music of two lesser known but well worth discovering Baroque composers: Franz Heinrich von Biber and George Muffat. Both von Biber and Muffat wrote compellingly expressive music for solo violin, as well as larger ensemble pieces and large-scale compositions for the church. This six-week seminar will be held online, but one or two sessions will feature live performances of Biber’s and Muffat’s…

One Hundred Years of Judy Garland - Hybrid Online

Group Leader: BRADFORD CONNER and BENJAMIN SEARS
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 2/8/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

2022 marked the 100th birthday of Frances Ethel Gumm, better known to the world as Judy Garland. The youngest of three daughters, “Baby” Gumm proved to be a natural actress at an early age, with an adult voice and a matching innate musicality. Her mother pushed her three daughters into show business as a singing trio, The Gumm Sisters. Baby quickly became a star and landed a film contract. Renamed Judy Garland, she starred in three classic films ─ The Wizard of Oz, Easter Parade, and A Star…

One Hundred Years of Judy Garland - In Person

Group Leader: BRADFORD CONNER and BENJAMIN SEARS
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 2/8/2023
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

2022 marked the 100th birthday of Frances Ethel Gumm, better known to the world as Judy Garland. The youngest of three daughters, “Baby” Gumm proved to be a natural actress at an early age, with an adult voice and a matching innate musicality. Her mother pushed her three daughters into show business as a singing trio, The Gumm Sisters. Baby quickly became a star and landed a film contract. Renamed Judy Garland, she starred in three classic films ─ The Wizard of Oz, Easter Parade, and A Star…

Opening Pandora’s Box: A Masterwork of Silent Cinema

Group Leader: ROBERT MANNING
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/7/2023
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 16

This class will devote its attention to one film, a gem from the Golden Age of German cinema, Pandora’s Box (Die Büchse der Pandora, 1929), and explore the enigmatic screen presence of its magnetic star, Louise Brooks. Along the way, we’ll explore the classical myth of Pandora, Hollywood, the Golden Age of German cinema, the heady and decadent days of the Weimar Republic, modernism, sexuality, violence, innocence and, of course, the star of the film, Louise Brooks as Lulu. In Louise Brooks—a flapper from Kansas, Ziegfeld Follies dancer,…

Pandemics: Past, Present and Future

Group Leader: KEVIN LOUGHLIN
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 2/7/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 7 | Class Size: 24

Over twenty pandemics or epidemics have plagued mankind in the course of human history. This course will review the prehistoric epidemic (circa 3000 BC), the ten plagues of Egypt, the Plague of Athens, the Black Death, the Great Plague of London, the Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, The Great Influenza of 1918, Polio, AIDS, SARS, MERS and COVID. There will be a brief review of basic immunology, how and when vaccines were developed (much longer ago than you may think), and the way vaccines work. An analysis…

Shakespeare's Othello: Race, Sex and Tragedy

Group Leader: TONY MERZLAK
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/3/2023
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 15

What's your favorite Shakespeare play? Hamlet and King Lear are traditional choices, but of late Othello seems to be taking the honors. Why and how this shift has occurred are just two of the questions we'll be discussing in this seminar. After a thorough reading of the text we'll study key contexts, from the play's source(s); through interpretations by Coleridge, T. S. Eliot and other major critics; to performance, with YouTube viewings. Tony Merzlak will be using the outstanding Norton Critical Edition – 2017, paper or Kindle –…

The Cold War 1959 ─ 1973

Group Leader: LAWRENCE CLIFFORD
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/7/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

The term “Cold War” commonly refers to the 44-year period between 1947 and 1991, when geopolitical tensions were high between the United States and the Soviet Union and the two countries’ respective allies. This course will take a close look at the years between 1959 and 1973, when the United States concluded its agreement with the People’s Republic of Vietnam to end what is known as the Vietnam War. The course will begin with a discussion of the fraught relationship between Cuba and the United States, which culminated…

The Governors: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Group Leader: MAUREEN MARCUCCI
Meets on: Wednesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/5/2023
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 5 | Class Size: 15

This course will explore the fascinating lives of some of our most (or not) memorable Massachusetts governors.  It will highlight stories related to: John Hancock, our first governor and general bon vivant; Samuel Adams, lately known better for his beer; Caleb Strong, the longest serving governor; John Andrew, our Civil War governor and very bad bookkeeper; Edward Everett, the other guy at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery; Benjamin Butler, the 'beast' and insulter of Southern womanhood; Calvin Coolidge, whose actions during a Boston crisis catapulted him to…

The Nude: Problems in Classical Art

Group Leader: ELLEN LONGSWORTH
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 4/5/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

The nude as a form of cultural expression is thousands of years old, with one of the earliest known examples dating to approximately 25,000 B.C. This course will trace the history of the nude from prehistoric times through the present, with special emphasis on the significance of the nude figure for early and Classical Greece and its legacy and influence for good or ill through the early Renaissance. The nude as a form of artistic expression underwent a transformation that began with Raphael but was manifested most strongly…

The People Without History: Mongols and Vandals and Goths! Or How I Learned to Love Ghengis Khan

Group Leader: GEORGE MESZOLY
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/8/2023
Venue: The Engineering Center
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 24

Chroniclers are seldom objective when writing about people who are invading them. Thus Scythians, Huns, Mongols, Goths, and other “barbarians” generally have a poor reputation in history sources. But did they deserve it? Were their invasions intrinsically different from the endemic warfare that gripped so many societies? And what is a “barbarian”, anyway? History, almost by definition, concerns itself with the tangible (literary, monumental, and archaeological) remnants of the past and ignores the past of those without (or with few of) these remains; thus many people are known…

The Pre-Raphaelites' Love for Nature and Beauty

Group Leader: LIANA CHENEY
Meets on: Thursdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 2/9/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 50

The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of 19th century British artists and poets who called themselves “The Brotherhood.” Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Evelyn De Morgan, Elizabeth Siddal, and Marie Spartali Stillman captured the beauty of nature and the human form in their paintings. Influenced by Italian Renaissance painters, who also loved nature and ancient art, these optimistic Pre-Raphaelite painters transmitted in art a message of artistic renewal and moral reform, chastising academic artists in a political climate marked by industrialization…

The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

Group Leader: LAURA DUNN
Meets on: Thursdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/13/2023
Venue: Chilton Club
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 15

“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about,” Ernest Hemingway observed, “he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.” Ernest Hemingway’s stories “rewired” short fiction with their terse, direct lack of affect and their insistence that we read between the lines. No one before him had ever written in such a style, a style that would influence fiction…

U.S. & Latin American Relations

Group Leader: FRANCESCA PIANA
Meets on: Thursdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 3/30/2023
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 25

Although the United States and Latin America share the same historical origin, after the arrival of Europeans, their development immediately took different directions. Latin America was the better known and better developed of the two areas during colonial times. While North America was rural, Latin America was urban; the United States exercised self-government in town halls, while Latin America was ruled by centralized viceroyalties from Spain; Spaniards mixed with the Indigenous races, but North American colonists chased them out of their territories and later put them in reservations.…

Worlds in Chaos: Dystopian Science Fiction of the 1950s

Group Leader: SARAH MCKENZIE
Meets on: Mondays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 4/3/2023
Venue: online
Sessions: 6 | Class Size: 30

This course will examine two British science fiction novels from the 1950s to look at ways this genre beautifully reflects contemporary fears of war, nuclear destruction, economic chaos, and environmental concerns. The key novels we will focus on will be The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951) and On the Beach by Neville Shute (1957). By reading, discussing and examining the themes of these novels (and extracts of other science fiction of the time), we will build a critical lens through which to compare 1950s themes…