LLI News December 2008

Interesting tidbits from the latest batch of LLI newsletters.

Members of the Academy for Lifelong Learning of Cape Cod, Inc., are studying The Flings of Kings (Queens) and Other Things. “History is written by the winners” is proven when we uncover hidden episodes of the past – the flings of kings, those mistresses who had profound impacts on European history, and the queens – what were they doing? Historical examples will indicate that we have learned many legends but ignored many facts.

This fall, members of the Academy for Lifelong Learning at Saratoga Springs, New York are taking a course entitled Shakespeare in China. This course will be a comprehensive history of Shakespeare as performed and studied in China from the beginnings to the present day. The study group will emphasize the Bard in the People’s Republic, but also consider his place in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The focus will be on the politics connected to this Western icon.

Members of the Adult Learning Institute at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, New York attended a workshop on Maintaining Your Brain. The guest speaker was from the Alzheimer’s Association. It was a fun, informative, interactive program that taught participants how to lead a brain-healthy life. They were also were given tips on how to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

Members of the Center for Learning in Retirement at Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL recently studied Herodotus: Father of History. Herodotus in the 5th century BC converted history from myth to interpretive explanation of past events enabling later people, including us, to face and deal with the realities of today. This course dealt with, among other things, Persia and the Ionians, the Spartans, and the Peloponnesian War. The course was a series of DVD lectures and discussions.

Members of the Institute for Continuing Learning at Young Harris College in Georgia recently took a course entitled The Painter of Shanghai. The class, using the book of the same name, studied the pioneering painter Pan Yuliang and her extraordinary journey from prostitution to post-impressionist icon.

Members of the ILR at Cedar Crest in New Jersey had the opportunity this past fall to listen to a former Wall Street Journal reporter talk about Newspaper Stories and News.

The Blinding of Isaac: Genesis 22 Updated, was the title of a course given at the ILR at Bergen Community College in New Jersey this fall. A radical new interpretation of Genesis 22 was presented, along with the Christian and Muslim understandings of this text. The impact on Jewish martyrdom in later centuries was also covered.

Members of the Learning Institute at New England College (LINEC) in Henniker, New Hampshire studied A Brief History of the World. Using the Teaching Company set of 36 half hour DVD lectures, they examined and compared the peoples, cultures and nations of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas to understand how, throughout history, people all over the world have connected, interacted, traded goods and technology, conquered, and learned from each other.

This fall members of the Learning in Retirement, Inc. at the University of Georgia Athens studied the field guides of Roger Tory Peterson. They also examined his influence on the environmental movement.

Members of the L.I.F.E. program at Mount Saint Mary College in New York recently studied Songs America Voted By. The political campaigns of the past were fueled by song. Tunes were sung with great gusto from porches and taverns across the land. They livened up street corners and torchlight parades. Campaign wordsmiths, often using popular melodies of the day, wrote catchy ditties that got stuck in our heads as we went to the polls. Balladeer Linda Russell traces our elections from Jefferson’s victory song through the Whigs Great Singing Campaign of 1840 to the ragtime melodies of Teddy Roosevelt’s term. This lively program casts a unique look at how we got to know the candidates for political office in the days before mass media.

Love is Stronger Than Death was a course given recently at Lifelong Learning at Regis College in Massachusetts. Participants studied the meaning of death, and whether our existence has meaning. These are questions that the poet, the philosopher, the mystic, and the child in each of us ask, yet we have been unable to unravel death’s riddle. The purpose of this study group was to stimulate and share insights and ideas, to invite exploration rather than to end it.

Members of the Lifelong Learning Society at Christopher Newport University in Virginia recently studied Profiles in Colonial History. The five lectures provided a brief biographical sketch of six important figures in our American history: Lord Baltimore and Margaret Brent from the Maryland colony and Patrick Henry, George Wythe, Peyton Randolph and Thomas Harriot. All were pioneers in personal liberty and freedom.

The Philosophy of Presidential Elections, was the title of a course given this fall at the Lyceum at Binghamton University in New York. What goes into making a good decision when choosing a president? They talked about ethics and the presidency, the life of a president, and past and future candidacy issues.

Members of the Lifetime Learning Institute at SUNY New Paltz are studying Self as Other: A Gothic Tale, this fall. Through the novel, Dracula, short stories and film, they are going to examine common themes of Gothic literature. These will include fallen worlds, horror, dead and undead, madness, and hereditary curses. Participants will get a glimpse into the Freudian unconscious and the return of the repressed.

Steinbeck and Fitzgerald: A Study in Contrasts – From Poverty to Decadence was the title of a course given this fall at the Lifelong Learning Institute at James Madison University in Virginia. This course examined John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Comparisons between the two authors and their works included: sense of social consciousness, writing style, enduring qualities of the literature and information about their private lives and its influence on their writing.

This past summer, the LINEC program at New England College in Henniker, NH offered members a chance to attend Beautiful to Eye & Ear: String Instruments in 16th-18th Century Europe. Early craftsmen believed that musical instruments created by hand should be “beautiful to eye and ear,” unlike today’s machine-made, plastic, electrified, and amplified instruments. Slides showed how painters included beautiful lutes, viols, and harpsichords in their portraits and still life works.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Presentations but Were Afraid to Ask was the title of a course given this past summer at the McGill ILR in Montreal. Whether an eager beaver or a shrinking violet, members found themselves leaving this workshop with new approaches that will take the sting out of presenting. Leaders shared some strategies they have found that lead to a successful and enjoyable presentation.

Members of the Middlesex Institute for Lifelong Education (MILES) in Middletown, CT recently took a course entitled Patriotic and Political Songs of America. Participants heard the tunes and discovered the stories and history behind some of the American songs that have roused our patriotism and spurred our political activism. The informal format included sing-along participation.

This fall, members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts studied The Silk Road. A series of lectures looked at The History of the Silk Road – Tamerlane’s Legacy in the Taj Mahal – Interactions with the Chinese Empire and Lasting Political Anxieties – The Impact of Tibetan Culture – Along the Silk Road Today.

Members of The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman in South Carolina recently studied Satire. Participants explored satire in essays, poems, stories, cartoons, and films, including works by Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, Evelyn Waugh, G.B. Trudeau, and Stanley Kubrick.

The Legends and Legacies of Pearls is the title of a course given at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Louisiana State University. The allure of the pearl is universal and timeless. Join us for lectures and discussion of the history of pearls and how they have evolved. Experience a hands-on enjoyment of pearls from all the major pearl centers of the world. Take advantage of an opportunity to identify and obtain verbal appraisals on your treasures and family heirlooms.

The Age of Tolerance in Medieval Spain was studied this past fall by members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of S. Florida in Tampa. During the period of 800-1200 AD, the Moors invaded southern Spain and established a benevolent and tolerant rule, particularly in Cordova. They invited the Jews, Christians and Muslims to coexist peacefully. However, these groups did more than that; they learned from each other and adopted each other’s customs, traditions and language. They even intermarried. The result was the development of a unique culture that spread throughout Europe.

Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of S. Maine in Portland recently took a course entitled Bizet/Carmen – Same Story, Different Take. Participants viewed several different versions of the opera Carmen on DVDs with subtitles. They compared and discussed the differences.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Program at the University of Pittsburgh is offering members a chance to study Bridges: Their Structure and Function. This course will provide a survey of the fundamentals of bridge structures emphasizing visual aspects rather than the mathematical considerations. Following an overview of various bridge types constructed throughout history, including stone arch, metal arch, cantilever, trusses, suspension, and cable-stayed, particular emphasis will be placed on bridges in the Pittsburgh area as well as significant bridges from around the world. Some discussion of the failure of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis will be included.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville offered members a chance to study Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Topsy-Turvy World. Participants examined Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-1569), the premier Flemish painter of the 16th century. After a survey of his career and development as an artist, set against his tempestuous times, participants discussed Bruegel’s methods and thought, as well as his techniques as a landscape painter, his drawings for prints, his depictions of contemporary life, and his satirical humor.

This fall, members of the PLATO program at the University of Wisconsin Madison are undertaking an in-depth course in Religious Studies. Scholars, journalists, diplomats and other professionals look at religious communities and activities and bring to their observations, questions that an insider might find strange, irrelevant, or even dangerous. Their resources for this course are 24 ½ hours of Teaching Company videos.

Members of the Shoreline Institute of Lifelong Learning in Guilford, CT studied WWII Aviation: Technology and Significance this past fall. The course examined WWII aviation and the historical significance it played on the outcome of the War. Technical aspects were highlighted as relating to the rapid advances necessitated by the war efforts of major combatants, along with the different roles of various types of aircraft.

Members of the Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE) at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts are studying Puritans and Witches in Early New England. This course examines the values and lifestyle of the Puritans in New England as the background spawning hysteria and persecution of “witches” in 1692. They are studying historical events and key persons in the social dynamics that led to recorded tragic consequences. They are also exploring inherited Puritan values and their influence upon us today.




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