The McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement in Montreal invites members and guests to a series of Friday and Saturday lectures during the winter. Lectures are limited to 48, begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fridays and 12 noon on Saturdays. The fee is $5 for each lecture and members can pay for their guests at the door, although everyone must register ahead of time. Here are the topics for the winter 2007 series as taken from the MILR course catalog.


The Three Gorges Dam, China – The Three Gorges Dam has been referred to as China’s second great wall. It spans China’s Yangtze River and has taken 17 years to build. Attendees will see slides and photos taken of the river and the dam by a woman who worked there.

An Illustrated History of Jewish Radio – With audio examples in Yiddish (translation provided), English and “Yinglish,” attendees will explore the history of radio for this colorful community. They will also preview the first full-time Jewish station in North America, which is scheduled to be on the air in Montreal by 2007. They will also listen to recorded examples of programs that have been developed by the presenter, for this new radio station.

Inessa Armand (1878-1920) – Attendees will review the life of the French-born Inessa Armand, who became a dedicated Communist, and reportedly was Lenin’s mistress off and on during his exile in Europe between 1910 and 1917. She traveled with him in 1917 from Switzerland to Russia and was active in Soviet politics until her death in 1920. A strange ménage-a-trois was rumored to exist between Lenin, his wife Krupskaya and Armand.

The Life and Death of the Cathars – A visit to current-day Languedoc will awaken the interest of the visitor in the fate of the Cathars. Just who were they and why were they so ruthlessly stamped out by the Catholic Church? The lecture will be illustrated with pictures of the remains of the epoch in current-day Languedoc.

Me and My (Tor)Mentor; Saul Bellow: A Memoir – This talk will deal with the great impact Bellow’s writings, philosophy of life, preoccupation with what it means to be fully human, unforgettable characters, sense of humor and comforting and crushing one-liners have had on the presenter.

The Music, Life and Times of Composer Kurt Weill – Attendees will explore the brilliant musical career of Kurt Weill in the avant-garde expressionist world of Berlin in the 1920s and early 1930s; his collaboration with the playwright Bertolt Brecht, including the “Threepenny Opera;” then his escape to Paris; his move to America where he composed for Broadway and worked with Ira Gershwin, Moss Hart, Maxwell Anderson and other creative artists. The audience will listen to his wonderful songs and jazz rhythms including “Mack the Knife,” “Speak Low,” and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” and to part of his classical “Symphony No. 2.” The program will also include live vocal and piano music.

The Assassination of Kirov – In December 1934, the head of the Leningrad Soviet, and a prominent member of the Politburo, Sergei Kirov was assassinated. Was it by a dissenting man acting on orders from Trotzky or was it planned by Stalin in order to get rid of one of his main competitors? In this lecture participants will follow the events as they happened and then find out what is known today about his assassination.

Roman Comedy – Participants will look at Roman Comedy; how it started, subject matter, actors, staging, etc., and follow its development in Shakespeare, Rogers and Hart, and Hollywood.

Lady Hester: Queen of the East – Tall, headstrong and hugely charismatic, Lady Hester Stanhope defied social convention to become a powerful figure in the Middle East. Born in the age of revolution, Lady Hester was hostess to William Pitt, the younger. After his death she chose the excitement of travel over the life of a spinster in polite London society.

On Crimes and Punishments – In 1764, the unknown Cesare Beccaria wrote one short treatise called “On Crimes and Punishments” and the world is still using it to guide criminal justice. Beccaria’s work has become the foundation of many criminology theories. Many reforms that Beccaria called for were incorporated into several legal systems, including the Constitution, Bill of Rights and judicial systems of the United States.

The Value of Names – The MILR Golden Stagers latest staged reading of “The Value of Names” by Jeffrey Sweet, a gripping thought-provoking and highly relevant play about the aftermath of the notorious Hollywood blacklist.

The Doctors’ Plot – In early 1953, just before the death of Stalin, a strange conspiracy, named the Doctors Plot was reported by the Soviet Union. It was claimed that a group of Jewish doctors were plotting against the regime and were in the past responsible for the murder of several Soviet politicians. In this lecture attendees will find out what was behind this alleged plot and what would have been the consequences had Stalin not died soon thereafter.

The Year of Cezanne – The 100th anniversary of the death of Paul Cezanne was celebrated with a major exhibition this past year in Alzen-Province, where the painter lived, worked and died. Attendees will hear about his artistic development, from his early childhood and his friendship with Emile Zola, to his encounter with the Impressionists. They will also learn why he was the forerunner of modern painting and, according to Picasso, “the Father of us all.”

Interment of Japanese Canadians During WWII – A look at an aspect of World War II when Japanese Canadians were interned, how it came about and the consequences for Japanese Canadians than and after.

Art and Literature of Ireland – Attendees will celebrate the eve of Ireland’s national holiday by attending an illustrated talk about the contributions the Irish have made to the world of art and literature. Among others: the paintings of James Barry, Roderic O’Conor and Jack Yeats, and the writings of the four Nobel Prize for Literature winners will be discussed.


Jewels – An abstract ballet by Balanchine, depicting rubies, diamonds and emeralds, and danced by the Paris Opera Ballet.

La Traviata – this famous performance from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden of Verdi’s romantic tragedy captures one of the most sensational debuts in operatic history.

Ballet – Ballet Notre Dame de Paris by Roland Petit from the book by Victor Hugo.

Bloom – On the morning of June 16, 1904, Leopold Bloom set out on an odyssey that was to become one of the greatest tales of the 20th century. Adapted from James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” the Irish-made film “Bloom” is an enthralling story of love, loss and lust – a fantastical adventure in the imaginations and desires of its three main characters.

Music of New Orleans Dixieland – Participants will listen to the Dixieland era of New Orleans.




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