2020 Spring Courses

Beethoven and His Time

Group Leader: BRADFORD CONNER and BENJAMIN SEARS
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 2/5/2020
Sessions: 6
Exceptions: 2/26/2020
Location: The Engineering Center
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2020 is the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. He was born during the Age of Enlightenment and into a time of political revolution in America and France, the Era of Napoleon, the rise of humanism, and the beginning of the Romantic period in Western arts and writing. Beethoven was the leading musical revolutionary in Western music and is considered the first of the nineteenth century Romantic composers. He exerted a powerful influence on the music both of his time and after, an influence which still reverberates…

Classics of Soviet Cinema

Group Leader: CATHY MANNICK
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:00 to 6:00pm
Starting: 2/5/2020
Sessions: 4
Exceptions: recurring
Location: Fisher College
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This four-session course will present an overview of four Soviet films from four key periods of Soviet history: 1. The post-revolutionary years – Man with a Movie Camera (1929), directed by Dziga Vertov 2. The Stalin era – Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1944), directed by Sergei Eisenstein 3. The Krushchev thaw – Ballad of a Soldier (1959), directed by Grigroy Chukhray 4. The Brezhnev era – The Mirror (1975), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The course will focus on the historical context in which the films were produced.…

Education Wars: The Supreme Court and the Public Schools

Group Leader: PAUL KELLEHER
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/30/2020
Sessions: 4
Exceptions: recurring
Location: Fisher College
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Schools are often arenas where our most incendiary social and cultural conflicts emerge. The Supreme Court is where many of those conflicts get debated and resolved. In the last century, the Supreme Court has decided cases involving constitutional claims that touch many hot button educational issues – like student rights of expression, racial inequality, due process, censorship, student discipline, and corporal punishment. In this four-session course, we will examine several specific decisions and their impact on the lives of children. We will also look at impacts on some…

Exploring Visual Images of Fortuna: The Fickle Goddess of Chance

Group Leader: NINA MORIARTY
Meets on: Fridays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/17/2020
Sessions: 4
Exceptions: recurring
Location: Fisher College
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Spectacular images of the feminine embodiment of luck – Fortuna – illuminate manuscripts of philosophy, drama, and literature like Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, the Roman de la Rose, and Christine de Pizan’s Le livre de la Mutation de Fortune. For two millennia, this allegorical figure prompted readers and viewers to consider their own relationships to hope, fate, and personal agency. This seminar will consider visual illustrations of the complex verbal concepts of luck in human lives. We will begin with representations of the goddess Fortuna in classical antiquity.…

From Daguerreotype to Digital: Exploring the History of Photography

Group Leader: BETH SANDERS
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/3/2020
Sessions: 4
Exceptions: recurring
Location: The Engineering Center
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As we are bombarded by photographic images today, it is hard to imagine that the first daguerreotype was created in 1839. From Muybridge and motion, darkroom to digital, the first instant camera Polaroid sold at Jordan Marsh to Instagram, together we will explore the history and process of capturing icons and ideas in print and online. Beth may lead seminar participants on an optional tour at the Museum of Fine Arts depending upon the MFA’s spring exhibits.

Hidden History: Treasures from the Massachusetts Historical Society

Group Leader: CATHERINE ALLGOR
Meets on: Thursdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/2/2020
Sessions: 4
Exceptions: recurring
Location: Fisher College
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Do you ever wonder what is up in your attic or down in your basement? It could be a priceless treasure! In Hidden History, we will explore objects and documents from the MHS collection that were long lost to history. Each week, an MHS professional will tell the tale of acquiring unmatched historical material from attics, basements, and other hidden in plain sight venues. Explore the meanings of that which was lost but now is found, with tales of sailors, swords, and signatures. The final session will be…

King Solomon Shares His Wealth: Gaining Wisdom from the Wisdom Books of the Bible

Group Leader: OLGA E. TURCOTTE
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 3/30/2020
Sessions: 6
Exceptions: 4/20/2020
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
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Four of the Wisdom Books of the Bible are attributed to King Solomon, the richest and wisest of all earthly kings; yet even he was not without Hamartia (tragic flaw or error). In this seminar, we will read some key chapters from the four Wisdom Books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom) and discuss them, with the expectation that some of Solomon’s wisdom may already be inherent in us. We will also look at the Book of Job (anonymous author) in our last session and measure our own…

Money: Spend it, Print it, or Just Let it Rip?

Group Leader: CARROLL PERRY
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 2/3/2020
Sessions: 6
Exceptions: 2/17/2020
Location: Fisher College
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This course will address and clarify two issues critical to understanding our current economic environment: monetary policy and fiscal policy. Monetary Policy: “I guess I’m stuck with you,” said President Trump, speaking to Jay Powell, his re- cently appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Why such bitterness so quickly? How could this sober Fed Chairman have gone so sideways with the President who had just appointed him? Welcome to the modern central bank. Here and elsewhere in the developed world, central banks have become key, largely independent actors…

Music and Representation

Group Leader: LAURENCE BERMAN
Meets on: Thursdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 4/2/2020
Sessions: 6
Exceptions: 4/23/2020
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
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What is it that makes a piece of music meaningful to us? It cannot simply be a question of its structure – of how it is put together – for the greater number of music lovers are untrained in musical grammar and yet are deeply affected by their listening experiences. How to explain their responses? The common wisdom that musical expressivity is due to the emotional dichotomy of happy/sad may be looked upon by the authorities as simplistic and uninformed, but it is nevertheless a reliable starting point…

Nationalism and the American Nation

Group Leader: MARK YESSIAN
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 3/30/2020
Sessions: 6
Exceptions: 4/20/2020
Location: Fisher College
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“How can a set of ideas believed to be universal undergird a national identity?” During an American presidential campaign when the air of nationalism weighs heavy, this is an especially vital question. In this course we will engage it first by discussing Jill Lepore’s tightly argued short book, This America: The Case for the Nation. In it, she examines the liberal and illiberal currents of American nationalism and concludes with a call for a New Americanism – one that will require a “clear-eyed reckoning with American history.” We…

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