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A Book Group: Reading Critically Acclaimed Literary WorksThis class will meet once a month to discuss eight literary works. We will meet the fourth Tuesday of each month, from September to May, excluding December. The selections have been made from novels, collections of short stories, and memoirs that have received critical acclaim from peers, reviewers, and the reading public. Led by author and writing instructor Nancy Geyer, the course will differ from a lecture format in that class members will be encouraged to participate in the discussion of the monthly book assignment. It is patterned on the classic formula of book clubs that became popular in the early 20th century and continue to the present day. Emphasis will be placed on characterization, plot, structure, dialogue, style, and atmosphere. The book selections and dates follow: September 22 - JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte October 27 - THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd November 24 - THE BEST PEOPLE: A TALE OF TRIALS AND ERRORS by Marc Grossberg December - No Meeting January 26 - A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by James Agee February 23 - MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE: A THERAPIST, HER THERAPIST, AND OUR LIVES REVEALED by Lori Gottlieb March 23 - EDUCATED by Tara Westover April 27 - DISPATCHES FROM PLUTO: LOST AND FOUND IN THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA by Richard Grant May 25 - THE RAINBOW COMES AND GOES: A MOTHER AND SON ON LIFE, LOVE AND LOSS by Anderson Cooper with Gloria Vanderbilt300.0008/20/202001/04/202118
Israel and PalestineThe slender strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River seems to be the most prized possession of both the modern and ancient worlds. No area has been trod by so many varied footsteps nor watered by so much bloodshed. Students will learn about the many inhabitants of this land, their political and religious histories and the many conflicts, which culminate in today’s Israeli/Palestinian difficulties. We will discuss the political leaders and factions who have shaped Israeli and Palestinian passions, the influence of neighbors such as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey; U.S., Russian and Iranian influence in the area, and the prolonged Israeli political process that still struggles to settle on a new government. Thursday, January 14, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | The Ancient Land: Who Lives Here? Thursday, January 21, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Modern Israel: The Beginning Thursday, January 28, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | The Israeli State Thursday, February 04, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Peace? Thursday, February 11, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Israeli Politics vs. Palestinian Politics Thursday, February 18, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Israel and Palestine Today150.0008/24/202001/13/202113
Short Story ClubThe novel may reign supreme in the battle of literary genres, but the short story is making a comeback as an important contemporary art-form. Recently, The New York Times’ Decameron Project has brought a heightened sense of timeliness to short prose, offering exceptional expressions for our shared experiences of Life (and love) in the Time of COVID. The best short stories leave us with a strong emotional response and a sense of awe at how quickly and masterfully a deft writer can create a world and connect us to its characters. They also offer a particularly sharpened insight into cultural and historical wavelengths. In this class, we’ll read an array of short stories that unite the Victorian, modern, and contemporary moments, seeking to understand what unifies cultures across space and time. How do genre and culture converge to shape the stories we tell and the way we tell them? Each week, Professor Richardson will provide a background for the authors and relevant historical/critical context, as well as a series of questions to guide this interactive, discussion-based course. Participation is encouraged but optional. See the list below for readings (weeks 2-6 are subject to change before Nov. 4). Please read the first two stories before attending the first class. You will be provided with links or pdfs for every story. 6 Week Class Schedule Week 1—Wednesday, November 4 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”; Atwood, “Impatient Griselda” Week 2—Wednesday, November 11 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Adichie, “Birdsong”; Trevor, “After Rain” Week 3—Wednesday, November 18 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Hemingway, “The Killers”; Baldwin, “Going to Meet the Man” Skipping November 25 Week 4—Wednesday, December 2 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Elliott, “Hellion”; Liu, “The Paper Menagerie” Week 5—Wednesday, December 9 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Mona Awad, “A Blue Sky Like This”; Virginia Woolf, “The Mark on the Wall” Week 6—Wednesday, December 16 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Carver, “Cathedral”; Hempel, “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried”150.0010/20/202012/04/202018
Black Voices in America: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail"After the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd by a law enforcement officer and the subsequent protests to racial inequality, Dr. Jill Carroll was inspired to take a look at Black Voices in America. Carroll gives insight into King's letter and his use of nonviolent protests given the context of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. From the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote a letter in longhand. It was his response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South. Dr. King, who was born in 1929, did his undergraduate work at Morehouse College; attended the integrated Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, one of six black pupils among a hundred students, and the president of his class; and won a fellowship to Boston University for his Ph.D. Read the full letter here: https://letterfromjail.com25.0012/03/202012/11/202013
Black Voices in America: Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?"After the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd by a law enforcement officer and the subsequent protests to racial inequality, Dr. Jill Carroll was inspired to take a look at Black Voices in America. This lecture is a study of the speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852 (before abolition occurred) titled "What to the Slave is the 4th of July." The entire speech can be read here: https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/what-to-the-slave-is-the-fourth-of-july/25.0012/03/202012/04/202013
Magic in the Bible and in the Ancient Near EastAncient magicians were the scientists of their times. They were trained as priests, doctors, astrologers, philosophers, and entertainers. The lure of magic came directly from our awe of nature and particularly from the parts of nature we call “the unknown.” It was precisely at the edges of knowledge that magic was the only reliable resort. The earliest recorded magic comes from ancient Egypt around 5790 years ago and we begin there. This course will recall the tremendous influence of ancient magic on history, on the development of mystical and religious culture, on the growth of science and the arts, and on the lure of wisdom that permeated the world far into the middle ages. These are the four sessions. Join us for a “magical mystery tour” as magicians manipulate the nature around us and make magic believable (even if sometimes by trickery and artistry) because all of this brings each of us closer to our own inner beliefs and our own suspicions about the way the world really is. Live Zoom Meeting 4 Week Class Schedule Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, January 12, 2021| 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, January 26, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM100.0012/04/202001/04/202119
Love and TendernessLove, “that many splendored thing” that Shakespeare immortalized in poetry has been treated by painters and sculptors more widely than any other subject. Just as there are many forms that love can take, so its expression in paint, stone, and metal has been treated in almost countless variations. Whether lighthearted or tragic, chaste or lustful, obsessive or self-indulgent, this emotion that governed the acts of the ancient gods as wells as mortals is portrayed in the pictorial retelling of the ancient myth, one of the greatest artistic sources of inspiration. These are eclipsed by depictions of religious subjects and genre scenes, in which love takes on different guises and meanings. Using works in the collection of the MFAH as starting points, we will examine the most moving depictions of love from Pre-Renaissance paintings to works by the Impressionists and artists of the early twentieth century.25.0012/04/202012/07/20205
Art NouveauAround 1900, Europe saw an astonishing resurgence in creative activity as artists and craftsmen forged a highly decorative style that soon became known as Art nouveau (new art). Instead of seeking inspiration in historical styles and subject matters of the past, they turned to vegetative, floral and purely geometric forms to forge a new artistic language. Yet, as the movement spread across Europe, this language developed according to established cultural difference. This talk will focus on both the shared and the individual styles developed by French, Belgian, Scottish, German, and Austrian artists from Toulouse-Lautrec to Gustav Klimt. Since all artistic expressions were deemed of equal value and the decorative arts elevated to the same level as painting or sculpture, the contributions by Hector Guimard, René Lalique, Charles Rennie Macintosh, and the artists of the Wiener Werkstätte will also be discussed.25.0012/04/202012/07/20205
Turning Points in the History of the SouthThe South has long been a region considered different from the rest of the nation, although in colonial days the South was precisely what promoters in England expected and wanted colonies to be and New England was the exception. But that all changed. This course examines developments that shaped the history and culture of the region. The first lecture explains how the work force gradually changed from one of white indentured servants from England to enslaved Africans, with results that transformed the colony and tragically shaped the region’s subsequent history. Lecture two explores how the southern region evolved away from the northern states, how economic, cultural, social, and political issues led to the South breaking away to form the Confederacy, producing the Civil War. That war, the deadliest in American history, profoundly changed the South—and the nation as a whole—and the third class will discuss the variety of ways that the consequences of the Civil War effected the region in particular. The South of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was the poorest, sickest, most racist, least advanced section of the country, with the most deplorable politics. It would not be until the second quarter of the twentieth century that the national response to the Great Depression—what we call the New Deal—and then to the Second World War that processes were set underway that reshaped the South and made possible the far more prosperous, racially integrated, and culturally diverse region that we encounter today. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A 4 Week Class Schedule Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Tuesday, January 26, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM100.0012/04/202001/12/202113
Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: Late Nineteenth-Century ArtThis course will look at French painting during the age of modernization, from 1850-1900. Beginning with Eugène Manet, the controversial but urbane embodiment of Parisian modernity, we will then look in detail at perhaps the world’s most beloved art movement: Impressionism. Focusing on the work of Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, we will take an in-depth look at a movement that is often thought to be only about surface appearances, considering its sources, means, and goals, as well as its complex urban context in the midst of a rapidly changing and dynamic environment. Then we will trace the impact and modification of Impressionism in the work of artists like Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and especially Vincent Van Gogh. Live Zoom Meeting 4 Week Class Schedule Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Thursday, January 21, 2021| 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Thursday, January 28, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM100.0012/04/202012/08/20205
Bible Stories You Never Heard in Sunday School (For Adults Only)Reaching adulthood without knowing some of the mature stories in the Bible is actually very common. When would you expect to be told about the rape of Tamar or the strange marriages of the patriarch Jacob and the prophet Hosea? We all know why Sodom and Gomorrah was utterly destroyed but we may not be as familiar with what happened after Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. Even if you read the Bible from cover to cover, translations tend to disguise what is really happening in the more revealing passages. Well, you can expect to get it straight from this rabbi. In two sessions, we open our eyes and see what does not make it into Bible stories for children. The Bible, it turns out, is about real life and very real people. Live Zoom Meeting 2 Week Class Schedule Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, March 9, 2021| 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM50.0012/04/202012/07/202019
The Art of Portraiture and Self-Portraiture from Dürer to the SelfieThis series of four richly illustrated lectures offers a panoramic overview of drawn, painted, sculpted and photographed portraits and self-portraits in Art History from the Early Renaissance to the present day. We will study concepts representing individualized features in the visual arts across time. Issues of likeness, status, identity, story-telling, and narcissism will be examined from the viewpoints of both the artist and the viewer. Iconic examples of portrayal from Dürer and Rembrandt to the Post-Modern and Contemporary period, as well as examples from the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston will be part of the lectures. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A 4 Week Class Schedule Tuesday, February 2, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, February 9, 2021| 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, February 16, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM100.0012/04/202012/08/20205
Superstate: Texas in the 21st CenturyChase Untermeyer is a former state legislator from Houston, former chairman of the State Board of Education, former chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, and current chairman of the board of Humanities Texas, the state humanities council. From this perspective, dating back over 40 years, he looks at the changing demography and politics of the second-largest state; its increasing role in the nation and the world; and how its system of government—created for a poor, rural frontier expanse during the Reconstruction Era—manages to work in the modern age. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A25.0012/04/202012/07/202010
Power in the City: The Houston Formula for SuccessChase Untermeyer has been closely observing Houston since going to work as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in 1971. He contends that Houston has the best racial and ethnic climate of any big city in the nation — better even than other major cities in Texas. This is no accident; Ever since “Captain” James A. Baker at the dawn of the 20th century, the city has expanded and embraced new leadership: From Jesse Jones and the “Suite 8F Crowd” to the old Houston Chamber of Commerce to today’s highly- (and remarkably-) diverse body of leaders. This, coupled with an optimistic, future-oriented civic spirit, has proven a winning formula. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A25.0012/04/202012/07/202013
"Parable of the Sower" God, Change & Starting a New Religion in 21st Century AmericaOctavia Butler has only recently received the public acclaim that she deserves despite having won every major science fiction writing award, many other prominent literary awards, and the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant for her fiction. Specifically, two of her novels have recently peaked people’s interest and one of them - Parable of the Sower - made the New York Times best seller list in Sept 2020 almost fifty years after she sold her first story. "Parable of the Sower" and its sequel "Parable of the Talents" are two of five planned novels in the “Earthseed Series” (she died before she could write the remaining three novels). In these books, Butler presents a dystopian 21st century America that has been devastated by climate change, rapacious corporate capitalism, and the increasing gaps between the rich and poor. Her protagonist is a young black woman who struggles to survive this new, often deadly American society and who also has a vision for a new religion she feels compelled to start amidst the ruin of the country. Butler’s voice in these books is prophetic; she saw in the 1990s when she wrote them, one of several paths that America could take in the 21st century. In the second novel, she even tells of a new American president who has a strongman style and a motto of “Make America Great Again!” In her protagonist, Butler explores with nuance and skill of what it means to be a person with a new controversial religious vision, and she masterfully weaves the tenets of process theology - one of several influential 20th century theologies - into her character’s vision. These books are masterfully written, highly engaging, prescient in ways that are downright spooky, and fascinating in terms of what they can teach us about community, faith, perseverance and what kindness can do in the midst of horror. "You will be glad you read these books,” Jill says, “And I can’t wait to re-read them and discuss them with you. These are the most stunning books I’ve read in a long while. I can’t believe I didn’t know about her work until now.” Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A You will need to purchase the following novel to participate in this course: "Parable of the Sower" (ISBN 978-1-5387-3218-2) by Octavia Butler50.0012/07/202001/14/202118
"Parable of Talents" -God, Change & Starting a New Religion in Futuristic 21st Century AmericaOctavia Butler has only recently received the public acclaim that she deserves despite having won every major science fiction writing award, many other prominent literary awards, and the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant for her fiction. Specifically, two of her novels have recently peaked people’s interest and one of them - Parable of the Sower - made the New York Times best seller list in Sept 2020 almost fifty years after she sold her first story. "Parable of the Sower" and its sequel "Parable of the Talents" are two of five planned novels in the “Earthseed Series” (she died before she could write the remaining three novels). In these books, Butler presents a dystopian 21st century America that has been devastated by climate change, rapacious corporate capitalism, and the increasing gaps between the rich and poor. Her protagonist is a young black woman who struggles to survive this new, often deadly American society and who also has a vision for a new religion she feels compelled to start amidst the ruin of the country. Butler’s voice in these books is prophetic; she saw in the 1990s when she wrote them, one of several paths that America could take in the 21st century. In the second novel, she even tells of a new American president who has a strongman style and a motto of “Make America Great Again!” In her protagonist, Butler explores with nuance and skill of what it means to be a person with a new controversial religious vision, and she masterfully weaves the tenets of process theology - one of several influential 20th century theologies - into her character’s vision. These books are masterfully written, highly engaging, prescient in ways that are downright spooky, and fascinating in terms of what they can teach us about community, faith, perseverance and what kindness can do in the midst of horror. "You will be glad you read these books,” Jill says, “And I can’t wait to re-read them and discuss them with you. These are the most stunning books I’ve read in a long while. I can’t believe I didn’t know about her work until now.” Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A You will need to purchase the following novel to participate in this course: "Parable of the Talents" (ISBN 978-1-5387-3219-9) by Octavia Butler50.0012/07/202001/05/202118
An Extraordinary Painting: Rembrandt (Prerecorded)Fernando Casas examines a masterpiece: a painting by Rembrandt. He will examine its form and craftsmanship and also gauge its significance as a work of art. Furthermore, he will take a final glance at it trying to grasp any relevance it may have, if any, to our present historical situation. Previously Recorded Webinar25.0012/08/202012/08/20205
The New Dawn or Coming Twilight of 1789: Revolution and Counter-revolution in FranceDuring the second half of the 16th century, France was riven by a series of wars in which each side—Catholics and Protestants—believed God was on their side. The consequences were, of course, catastrophic. Equally bound by Christian faith, both sides were equally barbaric, guilty of dozens of butcheries and bloodbaths. The spiral of violence climaxed in 1572 with the massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day in Paris, when the Seine River ran red with the bodies of Protestants murdered by Catholics. While the end to the wars—the Edict of Nantes, signed in 1598—proved ephemeral, the idea of toleration proved enduring as did the social and political costs of intolerance. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/08/202012/08/202013
The Dreyfus Affair: A Nation Once Again DividedThis year marks the 125th anniversary of a particular event: the arrival of Captain Alfred Dreyfus on Devil’s Island. Dreyfus was a French-Jewish officer in the Army’s High Command who, unjustly found guilty in 1894 of passing military secrets to the Germans, was sentenced to life imprisonment on this malarial rock off the coast of French Guiana. The conflict between facts and fantasies, reason and unreason, science and superstition that followed Drefyus’s imprisonment and subsequent retrial in 1898 is what we call the Dreyfus Affair. The searing division the Affair created in France—one that opposed nationalists and universalists, conservatives and liberals, rural workers and urban elites—not only gave birth to that odd guild known as “intellectuals,” but also to modern ideology of anti-Semitism. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/08/202012/08/202013
Vichy France: Resisters, Collaborators and the Grey ZoneIn 1940, the death of the French Republic at the hands of Nazi Germany led to the birth of so-called “French State”—the name given to the authoritarian and collaborationist regime based in the famous spa town of Vichy. Much attention has been paid, by both professional historians and popular writers and filmmakers, to the activities of those who resisted and those who collaborated with both the regime and the Nazis. Yet the number of those active in the Resistance, as well as those active in seeking to repress it, is quite small. The vast majority of the French, whether living in the Occupied Zone or the Free Zone, were in fact living in a grey zone, one marked by small acts of resistance and, inevitably, acts of accommodation. The sorrow and pity—to borrow from the title of a famous documentary of these four years, has been our inability to acknowledge to complexity of this period in French history. Live Zoom Meeting25.0012/08/202012/08/202013
The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson in the Era of the American RevolutionIn this 4 part series ""The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson," John Boles, author and retired William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, examines Jefferson holistically and in the context of his age and place, and attempts to discover a Jefferson appropriate for our time. Jefferson’s range of interests and accomplishments are stunning, and he articulated the highest ideas of political and religious freedom. He was always an advocate of education. Scientist, architect, political philosopher, and much more, this multifaceted man often inspires us. But just as often he disappoints us. He was not a progressive in the realm of women’s rights, and, although a lifetime opponent of slavery, he never freed his own slaves or worked actively as president to advance abolition. How do we come to terms with this complex thinker? How is he to be understood? This is Lecture 1/4: Jefferson in the Era of the American Revolution **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021.25.0012/11/202012/11/202013
The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson as French Ambassador, Secretary of State, and Party LeaderIn this 4 part series """"The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson,"" John Boles, author and retired William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, examines Jefferson holistically and in the context of his age and place, and attempts to discover a Jefferson appropriate for our time. Jefferson’s range of interests and accomplishments are stunning, and he articulated the highest ideas of political and religious freedom. He was always an advocate of education. Scientist, architect, political philosopher, and much more, this multifaceted man often inspires us. But just as often he disappoints us. He was not a progressive in the realm of women’s rights, and, although a lifetime opponent of slavery, he never freed his own slaves or worked actively as president to advance abolition. How do we come to terms with this complex thinker? How is he to be understood? This is Lecture 2/4: Jefferson as French Ambassador, Secretary of State, and Party Leader **Previously recorded Webinar**
Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021.
25.0012/11/202012/11/202013
The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson as PresidentIn this 4 part series """"The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson,"" John Boles, author and retired William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, examines Jefferson holistically and in the context of his age and place, and attempts to discover a Jefferson appropriate for our time. Jefferson’s range of interests and accomplishments are stunning, and he articulated the highest ideas of political and religious freedom. He was always an advocate of education. Scientist, architect, political philosopher, and much more, this multifaceted man often inspires us. But just as often he disappoints us. He was not a progressive in the realm of women’s rights, and, although a lifetime opponent of slavery, he never freed his own slaves or worked actively as president to advance abolition. How do we come to terms with this complex thinker? How is he to be understood? This is Lecture 3/4: Jefferson as President **Previously recorded Webinar**
Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021.
25.0012/11/202012/11/202013
The Monthly Richard Murray Report - Feb 3, 2021“They’re Back!” Well sort of, as the Texas Legislature returns to tackle a huge set of problems amidst the depths of a deadly pandemic. And the SS Biden Administration sets sail for ports unknown. Live Webinar with Q&A.25.0012/11/202012/11/202010
The Monthly Richard Murray Report - Mar 3, 2021Assessing the Biden team and early takes on the president/Congress relationship. Live Webinar with Q&A.25.0012/11/202012/11/202010
The Monthly Richard Murray Report - Apr 7, 2021With census population numbers due in a few days, the Texas Legislature turns to a very complicated redistricting process led by Republicans. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A.25.0012/11/202012/11/202010
Germany After Merkel: What Now?Angela Merkel will end her 4th term as German chancellor in the Fall of 2021. After 16 years at the helm of the German government, she is the longest serving chancellor besides her mentor Helmut Kohl. She kept the European ship on an even keel, in spite of some turbulence, and was valued as a reliable partner by her foreign counterparts. When this era comes to an end, what are the challenges for Germany’s leader to follow her, what are the names floated as possible successors, and what kind of government will they form? In this lecture, we will examine this shifting political landscape and outline potential scenarios for Germany going forward. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A.25.0012/11/202012/11/202010
The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson and the Problem of SlaveryIn this 4 part series, "The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson,"" John Boles, author and retired William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, examines Jefferson holistically and in the context of his age and place, and attempts to discover a Jefferson appropriate for our time. Jefferson’s range of interests and accomplishments are stunning, and he articulated the highest ideas of political and religious freedom. He was always an advocate of education. Scientist, architect, political philosopher, and much more, this multifaceted man often inspires us. But just as often he disappoints us. He was not a progressive in the realm of women’s rights, and, although a lifetime opponent of slavery, he never freed his own slaves or worked actively as president to advance abolition. How do we come to terms with this complex thinker? How is he to be understood? This is Lecture 4/4: Jefferson and the Problem of Slavery **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021.25.0012/11/202012/11/202013
Albert Camus on Existentialism: Why We Can’t Live With Absurdity and Why We Can’t Live Without ItRobert Zaretsky, author and professor of history in the Honors College at University of Houston, delivered a series of three lectures for WIH he called "Guides for the Perplexed." The first in this series was on Albert Camus, October 14, 2020. With his handsomely haggard face wreathed in cigarette smoke, Albert Camus was a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart. He was also the postwar poster boy for French existentialism. In 1947, when he was already celebrated as the author of "The Strangerand" a member of the French Resistance, Camus published "The Plague." A gripping work of fiction, the work narrates the story of a small group of men who struggle against the arrival of the bubonic plague in Oran, the French Algerian city where they live. When the Nobel Committee awarded Camus its prize for literature in 1957, it declared that, as with his other works, the novel “illuminated the problem of the human conscience in our time.” This class will consider whether "The Plague," in its portrayal of the French Resistance against the “brown plague” of the German Occupation, also illuminates our own struggle against other kinds of plague that threaten not just our lives but also our most fundamental values. This is Lecture 1/3: Albert Camus **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021. Lecture 2: Marcus Aurelius Lecture 3: Michel de Montaigne25.0012/14/202012/14/202024
Marcus Aurelius on Stoicism: Keep Calm and Philosophize OnRobert Zaretsky, author and professor of history in the Honors College at University of Houston, delivered a series of three lectures for WIH he called "Guides for the Perplexed." The second in this series was on Marcus Aurelius, October 21, 2020. You may not have heard of Marcus Aurelius, but if you have seen the Hollywood blockbuster “Gladiator,” you have met him. Played by the English actor Richard Harris, we first see this Roman emperor hunkered over a table, scribbling furiously onto a sheaf of parchment all the while ignoring—and stealing the movie from—Russell Crowe, who plays the Roman general Maximus. What Marcus Aurelius is writing, at least to those in the know, is his "Meditations." These are the private notes that Marcus Aurelius wrote—and never meant to be published—to remind him of the lessons of Stoicism. The book has since become a perennial bestseller. (In fact, since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Penguin Books reports that sales for its edition of the "Meditations" have increased over 300 percent.) Marcus is a fascinating figure, first of all, because was the last of the “good” Roman emperors, but also because, like us, he lived in interesting times. The Roman Empire had reached its greatest size and, as a result, had to contend with the invasion not just of “barbarian” tribes, but also the invasion of a plague—in this case, smallpox—that threatened the empire. The great question we will take up is whether one can be both a good ruler and a good philosopher. This is Lecture 2/3: Marcus Aurelius **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021. Lecture 1: Albert Camus Lecture 3: Michel de Montaigne25.0012/14/202012/14/202024
Michel de Montaigne on Skepticism: What Do I Know?Robert Zaretsky, author and professor of history in the Honors College at University of Houston, delivered a series of three lectures for WIH he called "Guides for the Perplexed." The third in this series was on Michel de Montaigne, October 28, 2020. Michel de Montaigne also lived in interesting times. Sixteenth century France was plagued not just by the Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants, but was also plagued by, well, the plague. If the French were not struggling with one another over their competing faiths, they were struggling against several waves of the bubonic plague. As the invaluable go-between for the competing religious and political factions in France, Montaigne strove to maintain a position of moderation and toleration. What better method to achieve these goals, he believed, than skepticism? How is it that this claim, which seems paradoxical to us, made perfect sense to Montaigne? Our class will not only explore this question, but also explore the work to which Montaigne devoted the last two decades of his life, his "Essays"—a work that has long been considered one of western literature’s greatest works, influencing writers from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf. This is Lecture 3/3: Michel de Montaigne **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021. Lecture 1: Albert Camus Lecture 2: Marcus Aurelius25.0012/14/202012/14/202024
Life TransitionsLife is a series of transitions—biologically it goes something like this: infancy to childhood to adolescence to adulthood. In intimate relationships it may look like this: first dating relationship to marriage to childrearing (and sometimes divorce, and dating again to second marriage to blended families). And in work the transition pattern may look like this: first job, college and exploring interests, first professional job, climbing the ladder, and then retirement. Are there some commonalities of all these transitions? Can we learn to anticipate and manage the transitions better? This course will discuss a variety of transitions and the common patterns of the transition process. Live Zoom Meeting. (A limited enrollment class) Recommended book: “Transitions by William Bridges” 6 Week Class Schedule Wednesday, January 13, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, January 27, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, February 03, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM200.0012/14/202012/14/202020
What We Choose to Do with Our Freedom: An Introduction to EthicsWhat’s the right thing to do? Is there just one right thing? Questions such as these have been asked for millennia, and we still don’t have the “right” answers. The very act of asking these questions is because we have the freedom to choose. In the course, we’ll explore how people have chosen to exercise this freedom, which is at the heart of ethics. We’ll spend time examining key ethical theories while we also dive into riveting case studies that will bring those theories to life. Live Zoom Meeting. 5 Week Class Schedule Monday, April 5, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Monday, April 12, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Monday, April 19, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Monday, April 26, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Monday, May 03, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM125.0012/14/202012/14/202024
Letters of LoveWhat do Warren G. Harding, Earnest Hemingway, Elizabeth Taylor, Winston Churchill, Ludwig Von Beethoven, and you have in common? A penchant for writing love letters. Well, YOU will be added to the list after this quick-paced short course on Love Letters. Ever since AR Gurney’s play “Love Letters” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, the love affair with the love letter has grown. However, with the need to express love in a letter comes the need to find the words. So, to celebrate Valentine’s Day in style, why not discover those words by reviewing letters written by famous people in history (not current celebrities), explore reasons for composing letters from the heart, and effortlessly (well, maybe a little effort) develop a few skills to help convey those sentiments we claim cannot be expressed in words. Need another reason to register for this class? How about two: Because it’s a great gift to the one you love, and a man will teach it. How’s that? Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/14/202012/15/20207
Odd Pieces in the Dead Sea ScrollsThe majority of what we found (and we found an enormous trove that equals a library) is copies of biblical books, writings of a sect about their rules and regulations, and maybe an attempt to rewrite pieces of the Bible. But among the rest were some extremely interesting items. A few help us understand what kind of Messiah the Jews were expecting just before (and just after) the time of Jesus. Also, there is a kind of “Proto-Esther,” a book that somewhat resembles Esther (and somewhat does not). There is a fascinating connection with explorations of the middle ages in a fragment that recounts some rules of the community. We call this “the Damascus Document” and the reason it takes on this name is also fascinating. And there is a very adult document called “The Seductress” which is a very long poem. And there is reason to believe that some of us adults might find it very much fun to examine. Rossel will give you a few more oddities along the way and you will be more than usually interesting at your dinner tables for a day or two, at least. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021.25.0012/14/202012/14/202019
Oddities in the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Copper ScrollStill the greatest archaeological discovery of modern times, the Dead Sea Scrolls clarify what was going on in Judaea from 300 BCE to the close of the first century CE while posing many mysteries and conundrums that occupy not only scholars but everyone interested in the Holy Land of Judaism, Christianity, and later Islam. In Cave 3, archaeologists found what no one could possibly have imagined. Either it is the most elaborate hoax of history or it is a treasure map of extreme importance. But to open it was no easy task, since the scroll was made of copper. To read it is no easy task, since the scroll is purposely secretive. To know what it is and what it is not is the greatest task of all. But let us examine, with ancient and modern eyes, the meaning of the “Copper Scroll”. In this day and age of staying indoors, you will find this examination of the environs of ancient Jerusalem, ancient Qumran, and the Dead Sea area a breath of fresh air. That is, a breath of 2000 year-old “fresh” air. Come and have a look! **Previously recorded Webinar** Once purchase is made, it is yours to view through December, 2021.25.0012/14/202012/14/202019
The World According to Eric: Weekly Global Intelligence BriefingAfter service for 31 years in the U. S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer (Santa Domingo, Seoul, Dublin, and Nassau), Assistant Director of Houston Passport Agency and an Information Systems Security Officer, Mr. Botts retired to work in the private sector and is currently a professor of International Studies at the University of St.Thomas and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Houston Downtown. Each week, Eric Botts will look at emerging threats and challenges to U.S. foreign policy in the near term and outline some strategic opportunities that need to be addressed in order to pivot U.S. policy in a direction favorable to our interests. The course takes into account the changing focus of the new administration and how the international community will respond to the change in the direction of U.S. foreign policy. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A. 10 Week Course Schedule Monday, January 11, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, January 18, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, January 25, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, February 01, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, February 08, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, February 15, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, February 22, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, March 01, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, March 08, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Monday, March 15, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM250.0012/15/202001/06/202110
Storytelling: The Best Human ConnectionFor centuries, storytelling has always been the most powerful mode of face-to-face communication. The overwhelming use of Zoom, Facetime, and Skype has added to the importance of telling a story as a method to connect, convey intimacy, and communicate an even greater level of humanism through technology. Storytelling is taking someone on a journey in the past and then returning him or her to the present. We may not remember a person—we do remember their story. We are taught how to write our stories but what about learning how to tell them? Each of us is born a blank page and leaves life as a full book. Our rich experiences are made up of meaningful episodes that fill those pages. This class will help students craft the story they want to tell. We will explore why humans are natural stoytellers, consider features required to craft a strong story, and examine ways to prepare and learn stories we wish to share. Through interactive exercises and learning to organize our rich experiences into a strong narrative, we can all become immortal through the best human connection—Storytelling. Live Zoom Meeting. (A limited enrollment class.) 3 Week Class Schedule Monday, January 11, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM Monday, January 18, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM Monday, January 25, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM75.0012/15/202012/15/20207
Humor and Jewish-American Identity—Laughing Through the Tears?In a 2013 survey, the Pew Research Center found that 42 percent of American Jews felt that “having a good sense of humor” was “an essential part of what being Jewish” meant to them, on a par with caring for Israel and more important than observing Judaic law or eating traditional Jewish food. Yet Jewish humor, like Jewish identity, is not some timeless essence but something traceable to modernity, commencing as European Jewish culture shifted from marginal to mainstream in the wake of enlightenment and emancipation. Although Jews in the United State have never been a particularly endangered minority, their humor here has nonetheless continued to stress vulnerability rather than power and wordplay instead of swordplay. If, however, as Saul Bellow commented, “oppressed people tend to be witty”, are modern Jews really so unique among peoples in practicing self-critical comedy—in making jokes about themselves? Certainly, the danger and allure of assimilation make Jewish-American identity so ambivalent, not unlike W.E.B Du Bois’s “double consciousness” among African Americans. While there is something profoundly ironic in a proud “Chosen People” having to endure centuries of poverty and persecution since being exiled “by the rivers of Babylon,” perhaps Sholem Aleichem -- a more recent Jewish writer than the psalmist -- deserves to have the last word. As his beloved Tevye puts it to God (at least in the Fiddler on the Roof version), “just once in a while, can't You choose someone else?” Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Temptation in a Time of Quarantine: How Screwtape is Using the Pandemic In "The Screwtape Letters," C. S. Lewis allows us to eavesdrop on a correspondence between a senior devil named Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood on the art of tempting humans. This talk will expose some of the techniques Screwtape might be using to sow discord within families during the pandemic. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202012/15/202018
WordsmithingDo you feel the need to tell your particular story or have the desire to look at words and sentenced differently? Do you want to make your writing as clear as the planning that goes into it? This workshop is for everyone interested in learning how to plan and write more clearly and creatively. The instruction will be geared to good writing in both fiction and nonfiction. Participants will come away with a plethora of helpful handouts. Some topics covered will include good rules for good writers, having something to say, the six senses, dialogue and dialect, showing vs. telling, editing and revision, peer critiquing, and much more. Live Zoom Meeting. (A limited enrollment class) 6 Week Class Schedule Monday, March 01, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Monday, March 08, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Monday, March 15, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Monday, March 22, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Monday, March 29, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Monday, April 05, 2021 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM175.0012/15/202001/14/202123
Voyage of Exploration: Dr. Livingstone and the Nile—A Victorian Epic“A worship new I sing, You captains, voyages, explorers, yours” ~Walt Whitman The term “The Age of Discovery” is variously assigned to the period of the 15th-16th century, or perhaps from the 15th to the 18th. In reality, however, It extends from at least the ancient Greeks to the present day; and encompasses dozens of travelers from the East and West, to the North and South. We will take a look at six significant voyages selected to provide both a chronological and geographical balance. Sign up for one or all. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once recording is released on Monday, March 29, you will receive a link to view the recording and may do so until the link expires one week later.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Voyage of Exploration: Vasco de Gama—A Passage to India“A worship new I sing, You captains, voyages, explorers, yours” ~Walt Whitman The term “The Age of Discovery” is variously assigned to the period of the 15th-16th century, or perhaps from the 15th to the 18th. In reality, however, It extends from at least the ancient Greeks to the present day; and encompasses dozens of travelers from the East and West, to the North and South. We will take a look at six significant voyages selected to provide both a chronological and geographical balance. Sign up for one or all. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once recording is released on Monday, March 8, you will receive a link to view the recording and may do so until the link expires one week later.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Voyage of Exploration: Magellan “I told you the Earth was round!”“A worship new I sing, You captains, voyages, explorers, yours” ~Walt Whitman The term “The Age of Discovery” is variously assigned to the period of the 15th-16th century, or perhaps from the 15th to the 18th. In reality, however, It extends from at least the ancient Greeks to the present day; and encompasses dozens of travelers from the East and West, to the North and South. We will take a look at six significant voyages selected to provide both a chronological and geographical balance. Sign up for one or all. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once recording is released on Monday, March 15, you will receive a link to view the recording and may do so until the link expires one week later.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Voyage of Exploration: Captain Cook—Endeavor and Resolution in the Pacific“A worship new I sing, You captains, voyages, explorers, yours” ~Walt Whitman The term “The Age of Discovery” is variously assigned to the period of the 15th-16th century, or perhaps from the 15th to the 18th. In reality, however, It extends from at least the ancient Greeks to the present day; and encompasses dozens of travelers from the East and West, to the North and South. We will take a look at six significant voyages selected to provide both a chronological and geographical balance. Sign up for one or all. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once recording is released on Monday, March 22, you will receive a link to view the recording and may do so until the link expires one week later.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Voyage of Exploration: Darwin and the Beagle—An “Evolving” Tail (Tale)!“A worship new I sing, You captains, voyages, explorers, yours” ~Walt Whitman The term “The Age of Discovery” is variously assigned to the period of the 15th-16th century, or perhaps from the 15th to the 18th. In reality, however, It extends from at least the ancient Greeks to the present day; and encompasses dozens of travelers from the East and West, to the North and South. We will take a look at six significant voyages selected to provide both a chronological and geographical balance. Sign up for one or all. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once recording is released on Monday, April 5, you will receive a link to view the recording and may do so until the link expires one week later.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Voyage of Exploration: Marco Polo and the Silk Road“A worship new I sing, You captains, voyages, explorers, yours” ~Walt Whitman The term “The Age of Discovery” is variously assigned to the period of the 15th-16th century, or perhaps from the 15th to the 18th. In reality, however, It extends from at least the ancient Greeks to the present day; and encompasses dozens of travelers from the East and West, to the North and South. We will take a look at six significant voyages selected to provide both a chronological and geographical balance. Sign up for one or all. **Previously recorded Webinar** Once recording is released on Monday, March 1, you will receive a link to view the recording and may do so until the link expires one week later.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Where’s Barry? Melbourne— Down Under, Tennis Anyone?In the fall, we traveled to Boston, The Hague, Tokyo, Liverpool and Manchester, Vienna, and London—circling the globe to some of my favorite cities to which I would like to revisit once we are able to travel again. In preparing for the course, I had a difficult time selecting just six, and as the series proved popular, I have selected six more of my favorites. Get your passports ready for this virtual tour! Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Where’s Barry? Prague—"City of a Hundred Spires” and one Great CastleIn the fall, we traveled to Boston, The Hague, Tokyo, Liverpool and Manchester, Vienna, and London—circling the globe to some of my favorite cities to which I would like to revisit once we are able to travel again. In preparing for the course, I had a difficult time selecting just six, and as the series proved popular, I have selected six more of my favorites. Get your passports ready for this virtual tour! Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Where’s Barry? Singapore—A “Fine” CityIn the fall, we traveled to Boston, The Hague, Tokyo, Liverpool and Manchester, Vienna, and London—circling the globe to some of my favorite cities to which I would like to revisit once we are able to travel again. In preparing for the course, I had a difficult time selecting just six, and as the series proved popular, I have selected six more of my favorites. Get your passports ready for this virtual tour! Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202001/11/202113
Where’s Barry? Edinburgh—“Auld Reekie” or “Athens of the North”In the fall, we traveled to Boston, The Hague, Tokyo, Liverpool and Manchester, Vienna, and London—circling the globe to some of my favorite cities to which I would like to revisit once we are able to travel again. In preparing for the course, I had a difficult time selecting just six, and as the series proved popular, I have selected six more of my favorites. Get your passports ready for this virtual tour! Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202001/11/202113
Where’s Barry? Istanbul—Beauty on the BosporousIn the fall, we traveled to Boston, The Hague, Tokyo, Liverpool and Manchester, Vienna, and London—circling the globe to some of my favorite cities to which I would like to revisit once we are able to travel again. In preparing for the course, I had a difficult time selecting just six, and as the series proved popular, I have selected six more of my favorites. Get your passports ready for this virtual tour! Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202001/11/202113
Where’s Barry? “A Fine Romance” Sing along with Fred and GingerIn the fall, we traveled to Boston, The Hague, Tokyo, Liverpool and Manchester, Vienna, and London—circling the globe to some of my favorite cities to which I would like to revisit once we are able to travel again. In preparing for the course, I had a difficult time selecting just six, and as the series proved popular, I have selected six more of my favorites. Get your passports ready for this virtual tour! Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202001/11/202113
Hammurabi and MosesHammurabi and Moses stand next to each other in Adoph A. Weinman's South Wall Frieze in the US Supreme Court chamber, and in the US House of Representatives, their portraits by Thomas Hudson Jones and Jean de Marco are in direct view of the Speaker’s chair, over the gallery at the rear of the chamber. The architects who designed these spaces viewed Hammurabi and Moses as great lawgivers, standing near the head of an ancient legal tradition that should always remain in view of our lawmakers and justices. We may also be familiar with more recent controversies surrounding the placement of Ten Commandments monuments in prominent public spaces. But the relationship between these two figures is more than an architectural conceit. In this lecture, we will consider the evidence for the influence of the Laws of Hammurabi (ca. 1750 B.C.E.) in the Hebrew Bible, in texts that were written hundreds of years later. And we will discuss what it means to think of these figures in the context of our own legal tradition. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/15/202012/15/202013
Travel and Transformation: E.M. Forster’s "A Room with a View"It’s time, hopefully, to think about travel again—both its practice and its meaning. Just as the Edwardian tourists in this witty 1908 novel consult their Baedeker handbooks, we will use Forster as our guide. Our journey will take us from suburban England to Renaissance Italy. Along the way we’ll consider the power and perils of narrative, the Apollonian and Dionysian art impulses, and if “the cause of Comedy and the cause of Truth are really the same.” Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/16/202012/16/202013
Ongoing and Emerging Challenges—Assessing U.S. Foreign PolicyEric Botts served 31 years in U. S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer (Santa Domingo, Seoul, Dublin, and Nassau), Assistant Director of Houston Passport Agency and an Information Systems Security Officer. He now works in the private sector and is currently a professor of International Studies at the University of St.Thomas and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Houston Downtown. In this lecture, he will use his expertise to envision a grand strategy for U.S. foreign policy for the 21st century. What are our goals? Where are the threats? How will the impact of militarism, climate change, globalization, migration, trade, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, technology, and shifting alliances inform the direction of the future? How will our goals align with or confront those of our peer adversaries China and Russia, our allies, and independent emerging powers? In this lecture, we will explore a few of the challenges and consider how the U.S. will join the global conversation. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A. **This lecture is being offered free of charge, but you will still need to register in order to receive the Zoom link. Add to your cart and check out as normal.**0.0012/16/202012/16/202010
Memories of StalinJoseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920s-1950s, meticulously created an enviable image and reputation for himself. He was savior of the oppressed, ruthless warrior against exploitation, and "Uncle Joe" to millions of adoring children. Given the brutality of his dictatorship, what has been the fate of his image among those he once ruled? How have successive generations dealt with the atrocities committed under his regime? Has the brutality of Stalin's regime been rationalized as suffering in the name of progress, justice, or the victory over Hitler? Has Stalin been condemned as a historical villain? What are children taught about the history of Stalin? This lecture will consider several of the competing memories of Stalin that have evolved since the time of his death, from the Cold War to Putin's Russia today. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A.25.0012/16/202012/16/202013
Beethoven’s Late StyleIn the last years of his life, Beethoven turned to the most intimate of the classical genres—the piano sonata and the string quartet—and created transcendent music of unprecedented expressivity. He transformed and compressed the quintessential form of the classical style, sonata form, and combined it with Baroque forms such as fugue, variation, and fantasy, and with vocally-inspired forms such as arioso and recitative. We will use selected movements from Beethoven’s final compositions to explore the personal musical language that he created with his late style. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/16/202012/16/20205
Variations: Corelli to BrahmsVariation is a basic musical impulse. In the seventeenth century, it became one of the earliest instrumental genres to be written down. At first variations remained very close to improvisation: either embellishing the melody of a song, or creating various patterns over a repeating bass line, but composers soon began writing more complex variations for ensembles. In the 19th century variations became a vehicle for virtuoso display and a way to exploit the possibilities of the symphonic orchestra. We will sample a variety of variations, beginning with Corelli’s “Folia,” moving on to music by Mozart and Liszt, and concluding with Brahms’ “Haydn” variations. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/16/202012/16/20205
Billie HolidayBillie Holiday was one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, but her life and career were hindered by racism, misogyny, and drug addiction. As the new documentary film about her life makes clear, she was relentlessly stalked by federal drug agents, who wanted to make an example of her, and abused and manipulated by a series of men. At the same time, she became one of the first jazz singers, and ultimately one of the most successful. She is renowned for the fluidity of her rhythm and the emotional sensitivity of her singing. We will explore Holiday’s life and music through film clips, audio recordings, and excerpts from her autobiography. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/16/202012/16/20205
Operatic DuetsThe duet is the dramatic heart of Italian opera. Composers use it as a musical vehicle to depict conflict, manipulation, or affirmation, and it has been the inspiration for some of the most beautiful melodies in the operatic repertory. We will begin with one of the greatest duets of the 17th century—the seduction scene from Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea—and briefly survey the development of the genre up until the mid 19th century, when it was codified and expanded into a four-part form, and reached its apotheosis in the hands of Verdi. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/16/202012/16/20205
Dr. Jill Biden, A Working First LadyPart history and part analysis of current events, this lecture places Biden into the larger context of First Lady activism. It explores how, simply through biography, Biden will be a path-breaking first lady. She will be the first First Lady to hold a doctoral degree, and, if she continues to teach in her community college job, she will also be the first First Lady to pursue paid employment during her husband’s presidency. After sketching out Biden’s biography and stated aims for her tenure as First Lady, the lecture will consider some past First Ladies who paved the way for Biden. Finally, the lecture considers what is and is not fair game for criticizing First Ladies. Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A. This lecture is being offered free of charge, but you will still need to register in order to receive the Zoom link. Add to your cart and check out as normal.0.0012/16/202012/16/202010
Abelard and HeloiseThe tale of Abelard and Heloise is fraught with doom and pathos. A successful, though controversial teacher, Abelard was also the tutor of the beautiful Heloise, with whom he fell in love. They became passionate lovers, but when her family became aware of the affair, they took out a terrible vengeance on Abelard, causing a huge humiliating scandal. In the aftermath, though separated, the couple corresponded. Join historian Wil McCorquodale to explore this tragic tale and the ways in which Abelard tried to redeem himself while also making an important contribution to medieval thought. Heloise, in her own right, also found her way in a new but lonelier life. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/17/202012/17/202013
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008): Human Figures from the East impacting the WestSeveral Gurus have impacted the thought process in America’s diverse and ever-changing spiritual landscape, both historically and even today. All of these gurus have attracted significant followings in the U.S. and nearly all have lived here for considerable periods of time. In these unique lectures, we will examine these human guides. Famously known as the Guru to the Beatles and Beach Boys—he taught Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after meeting the Beatles said, “They came backstage after one of my lectures, and they said to me: ‘Even from an early age we have been seeking a highly spiritual existence. We tried drugs and that didn’t work.’ They are such practical and intelligent young boys that it took them only two days to find that Transcendental Meditation is the answer.” Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/17/202001/11/202119
Osho (1931-1990): Human Figures from the East impacting the WestSeveral Gurus have impacted the thought process in America’s diverse and ever-changing spiritual landscape, both historically and even today. All of these gurus have attracted significant followings in the U.S. and nearly all have lived here for considerable periods of time. In these unique lectures, we will examine these human guides. Famously known as the Guru to the Beatles and Beach Boys—he taught Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after meeting the Beatles said, “They came backstage after one of my lectures, and they said to me: ‘Even from an early age we have been seeking a highly spiritual existence. We tried drugs and that didn’t work.’ They are such practical and intelligent young boys that it took them only two days to find that Transcendental Meditation is the answer.” Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/17/202001/11/202119
Mata Amritanandamayi (1953- ): Human Figures from the East impacting the WestSeveral Gurus have impacted the thought process in America’s diverse and ever-changing spiritual landscape, both historically and even today. All of these gurus have attracted significant followings in the U.S. and nearly all have lived here for considerable periods of time. In these unique lectures, we will examine these human guides. Famously known as the Guru to the Beatles and Beach Boys—he taught Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after meeting the Beatles said, “They came backstage after one of my lectures, and they said to me: ‘Even from an early age we have been seeking a highly spiritual existence. We tried drugs and that didn’t work.’ They are such practical and intelligent young boys that it took them only two days to find that Transcendental Meditation is the answer.” Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/17/202001/11/202119
Beautiful Chaos: Behind the Scenes of Creating an Orchestra ConcertAn orchestra is a well-oiled machine. There are 50-75 highly trained musicians that all come together to play the same piece of music together, with minimal rehearsal time and instruction, directed by the conductor. Come investigate how the orchestra works as a team, creating beautiful works of art in the process. There will also be stories of times that this process did not go well, and what we can learn from them in our everyday lives. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/17/202012/17/20205
Market Pulse with Bill Frisco: Investing in 2021What impact will the Biden Presidency have on interest rates, bonds, stocks, real estate, and new taxes. Investment strategies to help control risks to your investment portfolio will be highlighted. Live Zoom Meeting. ** This lecture is being offered free of charge, but you will still need to register in order to receive the Zoom link. Add to your cart and check out as normal.**0.0012/17/202012/17/202012
The History of Argentine TangoThis lecture explores the origins of Argentine Tango in the late 19th century and its development as a musical genre and dance that, by the mid-twentieth century, had conquered the world. Born in the margins of Buenos Aires and among the poor, tango was repressed and condemned by the Argentine elites and the middle classes as "scandalous" and "vulgar". After its boom in Europe in the 1920s, tango was embraced by all Argentines becoming the icon of national identity that is today. This lecture discusses this social and cultural history and examines the African and European influences of tango, the role of women in tango culture, the rise of Carlos Gardel--the ultimate international tango star in the 1920s and 1930s--and how radio and cinema turned tango into a global phenomenon. Music and video will illustrate all arguments discussed in this talk. Live Zoom Meetings.25.0012/17/202012/17/202013
The History of Dominican Bachata and MerengueThis lecture explores the origins of Argentine Tango in the late 19th century and its development as a musical genre and dance that, by the mid-twentieth century, had conquered the world. Born in the margins of Buenos Aires and among the poor, tango was repressed and condemned by the Argentine elites and the middle classes as "scandalous" and "vulgar". After its boom in Europe in the 1920s, tango was embraced by all Argentines becoming the icon of national identity that is today. This lecture discusses this social and cultural history and examines the African and European influences of tango, the role of women in tango culture, the rise of Carlos Gardel--the ultimate international tango star in the 1920s and 1930s--and how radio and cinema turned tango into a global phenomenon. Music and video will illustrate all arguments discussed in this talk. Live Zoom Meetings.25.0012/17/202012/17/202013
Literary Modernism (10 Week Course)Jazz. Flappers. Speakeasies. The Harlem Renaissance. Widespread economic prosperity. The advent of the golden age of cinema. AND THEN: Crash. Unemployment. Poverty. Impending war. Literary modernism experienced its heyday between the World Wars, a truly volatile period that is still defining literary aesthetics today. In the aftermath of World War I, the literature and culture of Europe and the U.S. erupted into frenzied expression as authors revolutionized the very process of representation itself. Aesthetically, new forms of art were shattering tradition as authors experimented with fragmentation, new structures and styles of narration, nonlinear temporalities, and poetic form. Historically, the success of women’s suffrage and the flourishing of the Harlem Renaissance signaled new opportunities for women and Black Americans. Modernism dwells in possibility, newness, change, and energy—even in the advent and wake of the Great Depression. However, much of the literature to emerge from this time period also presents war-torn characters/communities struggling with the loss of shared cultural values and the inability to locate meaning in traditional structures. In this class, we’ll discover literary modernism through its best authors, reading novels, short stories, poetry, and memoirs as we strive to understand how the period took shape in Great Britain and the U.S. Please come to the first class having read Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. 10 Week Class Schedule Wednesday, January 13, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Poetry: Williams, H.D., Pound Wednesday, January 27, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Orlando, Woolf Wednesday, February 03, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Poetry: Moore, Eliot, Hughes Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | The Razor’s Edge, Maugham Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Selections from Cane, Toomer, and Of Mules and Men, Hurston Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald Wednesday, March 03, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Selections from A Moveable Feast, Hemingway, and Stein’s word portraits Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Short stories: Joyce and Faulkner Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | Nightwood, Barnes250.0012/17/202001/12/202118
The Write Stuff: The Art of the StoryWhether memoir, fiction, poetry, or essay, a writer’s challenge becomes bringing the reader along the arc of the story into an envisioned or recalled world. The conflicts, triumphs, and defeats that form the backbone of storytelling are richly enhanced when our inborn senses are evoked. Each session will begin with in-class writing centered on vision, sound, touch, taste, or smell—followed by an opportunity for students to share what they have recently written. This class will help advance a current project, stimulate a new idea, or simply bring a strong start to a blank notebook. Live Zoom Meeting. (A limited enrollment class) 10 Week Class Schedule Friday, January 8, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, January 15, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, January 22, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, January 29, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, February 05, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, February 12, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, February 19, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, February 26, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, March 05, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Friday, March 12, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM250.0012/17/202001/07/202123
Big Bend National Park, TexasTruly the last remaining beautifully wild place in our state is Big Bend National Park. With over 800,000 acres, it consists of an amazing diversity of ecosystems including the flood plains of the Rio Grande, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Chisos Mountains. The Rio Grande is considered the lifeblood of this region and the floodplain ecosystem is unlike any other part of the park. Contrary to what many people think, the Chihuahuan Desert is home to amazing plants and animals and has a unique beauty that is often overlooked. The Chisos Mountain range, rising nearly 8,000 feet high, consists of beautiful canyons and forested mountains. These forested mountains rising out of the desert are known as sky islands and create a unique ecosystem that supports wildlife and plants not found in the desert and no other region of our state. In this presentation we will explore the natural beauty and history of Big Bend including the unique plants and animals found there. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/21/202012/21/202021
The Galapogas IslandsThe allure of this chain of islands (an archipelago ) located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador is world famous for a variety of reasons. The unique species of plants and animals found there and not found any where else in the world include the giant Galápagos tortoises, the only marine iguana in the world, and the Galápagos penguin is the only penguin species to live in the Northern Hemisphere. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as one of the top 50 most beautiful places in the world, a top nature destination, and for the famous trip to these islands by Charles Darwin. In this presentation we will begin with a brief overview of the history of these amazing islands. We will explore the stunning natural beauty, some of the remarkable animals and plants that live here, conservation concerns for the future, and tips on planning a trip to experience this unique and amazing natural wonder. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/21/202012/21/202021
Seven Plants That Changed the WorldWe often overlook the significance and impact of plants in our world. But, without plants it would truly be a vastly different world and we humans would not be here! In this presentation we will explore the impact of seven plants that humans have used that have radically changed our world. Granted there are many more than seven, but these seven have resulted in remarkable changes (and almost unrecognized) throughout human history from ancient times to our modern day! Join us for this intriguing and informative presentation. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/21/202012/21/202021
The Golden Age: Rodgers and HammersteinRodgers and Hammerstein ushered in the Golden Age of Broadway musicals with their production of Oklahoma in 1943. We will explore how they transformed audience expectations by examining their most successful works: Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. Through the use of videos and anecdotes, we will learn how each of these wonderful musicals was created and how Rodgers and Hammerstein’s innovations changed the course of Broadway history. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/24/202012/24/20205
The Golden Age: Cole PorterCole Porter wrote music and lyrics for some of the wittiest, naughtiest and most sensual songs ever performed on Broadway. His personal life was as fascinating as the music he wrote, and in this lecture, we will explore both the life and works of this epitome of sophistication. The class will include videos of Porter’s works sung by stars such as Mary Martin, Ethel Merman and Julie Andrews and songs from Porter’s best-known shows Kiss Me Kate and Anything Goes. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/24/202012/24/20205
The Golden Age: Lerner and LoeweThe lush, romantic musicals of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe take audiences to faraway times and places. The unlikely partnership of frenzied Lerner and laid-back Loewe produced Camelot, My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon and Gigi. The lecture will discuss how Lerner and Loewe worked together, as well as how their own lives (Lerner was married 8 times!) are reflected in their musicals. The casting of their shows was often paramount to their success. We will view videos of the British non-singing actors, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison, who became Broadway stars in their productions, as well as the stars Lerner and Loewe helped discover: Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet and Leslie Caron. Live Zoom Meeting.25.0012/24/202012/24/20205
Pandemics in Historical PerspectiveAs we begin a new stage in our pandemic emergency response with the roll out of new vaccines and treatments, it’s a good time to take stock of what we might learn from how pandemics in history have eased or ended. How might we use history to break apart and better understand what can, understandably, seem like a unique and unprecedented mess of politics and polemics that we currently see all around us? Are public responses to contagious infectious disease always so fraught and fractious; and, if so, why? In this lecture we’ll explore these questions in their historical contexts and in doing so show how history might and can better explain our present condition and point to a (hopefully) brighter future. Live Webinar with Q&A.0.0001/04/202101/04/202121