November 2005
Congratulations to the Learning in Retirement program at Sacred Heart University in Stamford, Connecticut. Their total membership for the fall 2005 semester is almost 400, an all-time high. With 24 different offerings filling over 1200 class spaces, their program is thriving. Well done!

Congratulations to the following LLIs who will be taking part in the Elderquest Project through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project will be administered through the OLLI program at UMASS Boston under the guidance of Wichian Rojanawan and Chuck Nichols. This is an excellent example of how LLIs can work together to enrich their programs and offer their members the very best programming. The participating 21LLIs, in 14 states are:
1) Academy for Lifetime Learning, University of Alabama in Huntsville, AL (1,000)*
2) Central Arizona Lifelong Learners, Central Arizona College, AZ (450)
3) Senior College and Academy of Senior Professionals, Eckerd College, FL (850)
4) Institute for Learning in Retirement, U. of Florida at Gainesville, FL (500)
5) Academy of Lifelong Learning, Lincoln Land Community College, IL (410)
6) Tufts Institute of Lifelong Learning, Tufts University, MA (400)
7) Lifelong Learning at Regis College, MA (100)
8) Saginaw Valley State University Institute for Learning in Retirement, MI (572)
9) Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Minnesota Gateway, MN (760)
10) Unlimited Learning, MN (340, rural)
11) Washington University’s Lifelong Learning Institute, MO (500)
12) Institute for Learning in Retirement, University of Southern Mississippi, MS (400
13) Center for Creative Retirement, University of North Carolina Asheville, NC (400)
14) Center for Creative Retirement, Sandhills Community College, NC (110)
15) Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Nebraska-Lincoln., NE (150)
16) Peconic Landing, NY (281, CCRC)
17) Institute for Retired Professionals, The New School University, NY (270)
18) ElderCollege, Terra Community College, OH (306, rural)
19) Lifelong Learning Institute, Columbus State Community College, OH (60)
20) Institute for Learning in Retirement, Youngtown State University, OH (110)
21) Lifelong Learning Institute, Anderson College, SC (150)
*Number of Members

The Emergence of the Cinema and Literature of Age
Part I: The Elderquest in Today’s Movies and Novels

Each of the eight three-hour sessions will consist of an introductory presentation, a film screening (and/or reading), a break for refreshments, and a facilitated discussion.

Readings: Handouts will be distributed in class, additional readings and references will be posted on the Elderquest website, and each student is responsible for the purchase of two novels: Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow & Ethan Canin’s Carry Me Across the Water.

Session One: Eight Ways to Look at an Elderquest: An Introduction to the Elderquest: Its Characteristics, Its Origins, and its Implications

Film: Excerpts from various films including The Lord of the Rings (a heroic, mid-life quest), Easy Rider (a youthful, rebellious, and pessimistic road movie), The Straight Story (a more optimistic Elderquest/road movie), the BBC production of Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus (the ancient prototype for the elderquest) and Wild Strawberries (its modern prototype).

Session Two: The Prototype for the Modern Elderquest Wild Strawberries;
Victor Sjostrom, Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, 1957 (Swedish; with new, easy to read subtitles). Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. An aging professor, on the road to accept an award, must come to terms with his past as well as his present. Rated by one international survey as among the 20 best films of all times. Black & White, 1 hr., 30 mins. The DVD in the Criterion Collection is especially recommended—for its visual quality and its added features, including a film length commentary by Peter Cowie.

Session Three: Coming Home: Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful
Geraldine Page, John Heard, Rebecca DeMornay, 1985. Directed by Peter Masterson from a Horton Foote screenplay. Best Actress Award: Page. An aging woman, living in a small apartment with her son and his wife, returns to Bountiful, her childhood home, even though it no longer exists, and it gives her “enough to last me for the rest of my life.” Color, 1 hr., 47 mins.

Session Four: Hitting the Road Again: David Lynch’s The Straight Story
This gem of a movie by David Lynch chronicles a trip made by 73-year-old Alvin Straight from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, in 1994 while riding a lawn mower (his poor eyesight wouldn't allow him to renew his driver's license). He takes this strange journey to mend his relationship with his ill, estranged, 75-year-old brother Lyle, and it is a superb example of late life revitalization and transformation. Richard Farnsworth’s performance earned him Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for best actor. At 79, he is the oldest to be so honored. 112 mins.

Session Five: From Despair to Integrity: Part One: Brazil’s Central Station
Fernanda Montenegro and Vinicius de Oliveira, 1998. (Portuguese with excellent subtitles). This Brazilian masterpiece may be the best intergenerational film ever made. It is also an excellent example of an Elderquest, a middle passage, desperately needed and successfully completed. Donã Dora, old, angry, and totally hopeless, writes letters for the young and still hopeful in Rio’s Central Station, then throws them away. But she is gradually and against her will drawn into the life of nine year old Josue whose mother writes a letter trying to reunite him with his father and is then run over by a bus. Dora is slow to rehumanize and Josue is equally slow to let down his barriers and begin once again to hope, but they embark on an endless odyssey in search of both of their lost fathers and eventually the letter writer rewrites her own script as well as the boy’s. Heartbreaking; realistic and finally revelatory story of how the Elderquest can give us the power to redefine not only our own lives, but those of our descendants as well, 106 mins.

Session Six: From Despair to Integrity: Part Two: Paule Marshall’s novel,
Praisesong for the Widow (1983) Seventy something Avey Johnson, a middle class widow, jumps ship in mid-cruise to rediscover her Afro-Caribbean roots and re-establish her identity in a harrowing and heroic Elderquest.

Session Seven: A Failed Elderquest: Alexander Payne’s About Schmidt (2002)
Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt, a clueless 65 year old retired insurance executive from Omaha sets out on a hilarious but doomed Elderquest in the huge camper his recently deceased wife had bought for traveling in their golden years. But he is so shut down emotionally that his encounters—with his daughter, his son-in-law and her mother (Kathy Bates)—all end badly. Based on novel by Louis Begley, which is totally different—not an Elderquest, and about a successful, upper crust insurance executive from New York City who retires to Long Island, 124 mins.

Session Eight: Summing Up: Ethan Canin’s novel, Carry Me Across the Water (2001)
August Kleinman, a successful retired Jewish brewer, takes off in his mid-seventies to redeem himself and restore his integrity by returning to Japan to confront the descendants of a Japanese officer he has killed in the south Pacfic in WWII, another harrowing but heroic Elderquest.

For more information on this exciting project contact either Chuck Nicholas at or 617 287 7406 or Wichian Rojanawon at or 617 287 7090.




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