Institute for Retired Professionals, New School University, New
10:00 Limited to 25
Coordinator: John Gillespie
Astronomy, from its prehistoric origins to our present understanding
of the universe, is explored, together with strategies for its observation.
The major systems considered are the planets, stars, comets, and galaxies.
Elementary notions of gravity, light, stellar evolution, and cosmology
are integrated into the study. We review the fascinating open questions,
including extraterrestrial life, dark matter and dark energy, and the
future of the universe. No previous experience in physics or mathematics
is assumed. Internet access is required.
Text: Coursepack (selections from astronomy journals and textbooks);
Scalzi, John, The Rough Guide to the Universe, (Penguin/Rough Guides,
2003, ISBN: 1-85828-939-4, $16.95).
John Gillespie, an astrophysicist, taught astronomy and physics at CUNY.
His interests include the interface of science and literature as well
TICKET TO THE OPERA (0303)
10:00 Limited to 25
Coordinators: Judy Newbold, Susan Rauch
Tempers raging, love affairs flourishing, rivalries thriving, all fortissimo.
We examine opera's history, learn the voices, and explore the partnership
of the composer, librettist, and singers as they create not only a musical
experience but a dramatic, poetic, historical, psychological, and passionate
one as well. We analyze works from different operatic traditions, with
class discussion supplemented by student reports and audio-visual segments.
When feasible, we focus on Met Opera broadcasts. Optional visits to
a voice class, rehearsal, and backstage may be arranged outside of class
time. No previous familiarity with opera is necessary.
Text: Gaetani, John Louis, An Invitation to the Opera (Anchor Books,
1989, ISBN: 0-3852-6339-2, $17.00).
Judy Newbold has been attending opera -performances for decades and
finally has a full view of the stage. Susan Rauch has studied classical
music since childhood; she begs not to be judged by her piano performance.
They look forward to introducing their favorite art form to new enthusiasts.
WRITING LESSONS FROM THE MASTERS (0304)
10:00 Limited to 12 Coordinator: Robert Reilly
This study group is for you if you're interested in writing, whether
you're new at it or revising your tenth novel or suffering the agonies
of writer's block. Our prescription for all of these: Let the reader
in you help the writer in you flourish. We analyze the techniques of
admired writers, then attempt to apply them to our own uncertain attempts
at fiction, poetry, journalism, memoir, etc. Scanning samples from exemplars
like Alfred Kazin, W. H. Auden, Neil Simon, and Virginia Woolf, we writers
and would-be writers focus on particular skills these authors are celebrated
for (characterization, dialogue, dramatic action, humor, a distinctive
"voice"). Short assignments give us a chance to put their
craftsmanship to work improving ours.
Text: Coursepack. Email access required.
Robert Reilly is a novelist, journalist, and advertising copywriter.
He has published a fictionalized biography of Oscar Wilde, The God of
Mirrors, and is currently working on two novels.
AMERICAN HISTORY MIRRORED IN POPULAR SONG (0305)
12:20 Limited to 35
Coordinator: Herb Greenhut
At one time, the study of history consisted of wars and laws, presidents,
and kings-and a never-ending succession of dates. That is the history
most of us studied in school. But today, we know there are many roads
to understanding history. In this study group, we use popular songs
(lyrics mainly) to throw light on historical trends and eras. We examine
songs in times of war from the Civil War to Vietnam and 9/11, songs
of other periods of crisis, from labor strife and the civil rights struggle
to immigration and 20th-century urban strife-as well as some special
sessions on New Orleans music, the westward movement, and the hard-scrabble
existence that created country music. The emphasis is always on illuminating
history-not composers, musical styles, or clever lyrics.
Text: Handouts provided. Web access highly desirable.
As a boy, Herb Greenhut played clarinet and tenor sax in teen bands.
Through his father's theatrical photo studio, he met entertainers of
all sorts. He lectures on American popular music and integrates it into
his New School courses.
FRENCH CINEMA BEFORE THE NEW WAVE (0306)
12:20 Limited to 24
Coordinators: John Becker, Howie Menikoff
The period from 1930 to 1960 constitutes the classical era in French
cinema. Commercial interests were closely linked to experimental and
avant-garde film making. The French realized the medium's dual possibilities
as popular entertainment and high art. Through the highly personalized
visions of such directors as Clair, Renoir, Cocteau, Vigo, Carne, and
Bresson, French film brought innovation in both film theory and practice.
Participants view each week's film prior to class, and individuals present
reports on directors. Students should watch Rene Clair's Le Million
(1931) for the first session.
John Becker became a film buff as a teenager in the 1950s, when he took
the subway into Manhattan to see John Ford's The Informer and saw a
co-feature he hadn't known about-something called Citizen Kane. Howie
Menikoff has coordinated many film classes for the IRP. As a youth he
often cut French class to go to the movies. Who knew?
GREAT POETS: DONALD HALL (0307)
12:20 Limited to 20
Coordinator: Judith Fried
Appointed poet laureate in 2006, Hall has published 15 books of poetry,
of which our text is the latest. Born in New Haven in 1928, Hall attended
the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of 16-the same year he
had his first work published. He taught at Harvard and the University
of Michigan, where he met his wife Jane Kenyon. In words perhaps to
be considered a motto for the study of poems, Hall writes: "When
we put words together-adjective with noun, noun with verb, verb with
object-we start to talk to each other." We read assigned poems
carefully before each session, and in class we read and reread aloud
before we "talk to each other."
Text: Hall, Donald, White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems
1946-2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006, ISBN: 10-0-618-53721-X, $30.00).
Judith Fried has been joyously involved in poetry since the mid-nineties
and has coordinated the
Great Poets series.
AGE OF REASON (0308)
12:20 Limited to 15
Coordinator: Stanley Engelstein
After 1792, the leaders of the French Revolution enshrined the Goddess
of Reason in Notre Dame, and Temples of Reason were established in many
French cities. Religion had been toppled: Reason was now the new religion.
The triumph of reason was celebrated in huge festivals. Reason was to
be the guide to human conduct and for the understanding of the world.
Reason was applied to nature, science, religion, God, history, politics,
crime and punishment, gender and race, education, the economy, war and
peace. We read excerpts from essays on these subjects by scientists,
philosophers, and writers of the time. We conclude with a discussion
of the romantic and postmodern critique of the dominance of reason.
Text: Kramnick, Isaac, ed., The Portable Enlightenment Reader (Penguin,
1995, ISBN: 0-14-02-4566-9, $18,00).
Stanley Engelstein's major interests are political and intellectual
history. He has previously coordinated a course on Major Currents in