2023 Winter & Spring Online 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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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 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 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…

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…