Courses

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American Empire, CLOSED

New! The course traces the United States from colonial backwater to superpower. A fascinating progression of history, by which this grand experiment known as America sheds many of its colonial roots to join the ranks of the imperialist powers by the end of the 19th century. This assured its standing as a global power in 1917, followed in 1945, by reaching the lofty status of superpower.  This captivating history is depicted in a variety of ways.

         



Ancient Art of Stone Carving, Darien Senior Program at Mather Center

Create again! Students craft their own masterpiece using common household tools. Beginning with soap carving and then, if you choose, sculpting on a piece of ice. The remaining six weeks involve the art of working with stone ─ learning how to select it, handle it properly and polish it. A recommended book is Creating with Soapstone by Kurt Haberstich.

 This class is held at Darien Senior Program at Mather Center



Art in Europe vs. America’s CLOSED

New! Many influences formed the Post World War I art scene in Europe.  We look at the harsh colors and flat surfaces of Fauvism and Expressionism and move forward to art expressing new forms to explain modern life.  Unconscious dreams and ridiculous art of Duchamp, Dali, Ernst and Magritte are explored.  German Expressionism and “Degenerate Art” tell a story. America had its own traditions that were pushed and prodded by the Great Depression, World War II, Nazi horrors and the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. An influx of European artists during and after the war changed the landscape of American art.  Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keefe, Marsden Hartley, Jackson Pollock and more are reviewed. 

Art Europe Okeeffe



Art of Performance Storytelling, W231

New! This is a class for rising storytellers interested in learning how to craft and tell an interesting personal story. The process begins with John’s favorite storytelling advice, “Just because it happened to you doesn’t make it interesting.” He proceeds with a lecture on the elements of a good story, followed by some advice on the how of the telling.  Storytellers are asked to write their stories and read them aloud to hear what works and what doesn’t and then revise. Provided with guidelines and examples, students tell their 5-8 minute stories in front of the class while being coached to find the true nuggets, the best arcs of the stories and endings while having fun!

           

 



Century of American Music, CLOSED

New! Would you like to learn more about eight genres of American music? Participants gain an appreciation of cultural, social and political influences on the following: Blues, Gospel, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, Country/Western, Rhythm and Blues, Native American music and Hip Hop/Rap.

 

 



Conflict Resolution, W115

New!  How can conflicts be resolved? Many methods have been used to positively resolve conflicts in communities and throughout the justice system.  This is a course about country, city and person-to-person differences, and actual and potential strategies that have been used or could be used to solve them. We cover Rwanda, South Africa, indigenous communities, racial unrest and specific   different schools of thought on conflict resolution.

 



Current Affairs, CLOSED

Ongoing! Framed by the week’s trending news, this course relies on rigorous, yet respectful, debate to enhance our understanding of divergent viewpoints in the reporting of current events.  Discussions address politics, sex, religion and their effects on contemporary culture – issues that give life depth and meaning.  We focus on developing critical reasoning skills by examining the pre-conceived biases that affect our personal objectivity. 

             



Dementia:  A Guide for Caregivers and Others, W103

New! There are more than 176,000 people in Connecticut caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. The class is designed to give tips and practical information to help those who are, or may in the future become, caregivers.  It begins with an overview of the disease, including the types, detection, risk factors, stages and treatments.  Through conversations with experts and experienced caregivers, we explore ways to minimize behavioral challenges and their impact on family dynamics and strategies to help caregivers stay connected with the individual. Students learn about important legal and financial issues to be considered, how to put plans in place and access resources in caring for their loved ones.

            



Dismal, My Asterisk V4.0, Room E219

Continuation! Once more we examine what the great economics professor, Alfred Marshall, called “ordinary business of life, by reading four easily accessible books  written for a general audience, which survey the many facets of the dismal science. The four readings in order  are Boomerang, by Michael Lewis; Hot Flat and Crowded, by Thomas Freidman; Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman (no relation to Thomas); and The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, by George Bernard Shaw.

 

            



Economic Development of East Asian Nations, W221

Back again!  We examine the history, present conditions and challenges ahead for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.  The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Japan are, respectively, the second and third largest economies on the planet.  Hong Kong and Taiwan have a symbiotic relationship with the PRC.  South Korea, whose growth may arguably have been the fastest, has undergone the most spectacular transformation in the last 50 years.   What factors have contributed to the success of these countries?  What obstacles may hamper their future progress?  We study the geographical, demographic, cultural and political factors at play for each for the four countries and the Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong).

           



Ethiopian Jewry: A Modern Day Exodus, W213

Another journey! We explore a remarkable exodus that began in the seventies and ended in August 2013, involving a remnant of the Jews, who refer to themselves as the Beta Israel (the House of Israel). Cut off from mainstream Judaism since Biblical times, they believed eventually they would return to the Holy Land and rejoin the main body of Jews.  We discuss the background of and reasons for the exodus, integration into modern day Israel, religious obstacles they encountered and the current status of Ethiopian Jews, their progress, setbacks and prospects for the future.

            



Exploring the Human Good: A Learning Project, W245

New! The use of the term “good” abounds in our society and our personal lives.  But beyond what is good for me, there is little agreement.  Yet, we can all point to specific projects and occurrences that are good. As a group-learning project, we study aspects of “the good” from religious, philosophical, ethical, economical and political traditions.  We also explore readings from handouts and reflect on how “the good” might once again become a goal of our current society.

Rev. Dr. Don Thompson is a retired university professor/administrator who taught theology, ethics and religious studies in higher education in Canada.  As part of basic interdisciplinary study, he taught courses on Sin and Evil and The Human Good in the degree program of Laurentian University in Ontario.  He holds graduate degrees from Harvard and McGill University.  Currently, he is a priest associated with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien.

6 sessions



Fun with Collage/Mixed Media, W246

Back again! Fun and imagination are the keys! Create simple black & white compositions progressing to free form, complex and playful images.  We use pencils, cutouts from newspapers and magazines, crayons, watercolor, acrylic paints and found objects.  We discuss such topics as composition, negative space, color, grids and visual elements and also look at various periods of art. Students critique each other’s creations.  Work at your own pace.

Supplies for the first class are provided by the facilitator, who will help students choose the proper supplies for the remaining classes. Students should bring two to four sheets of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper per class, HB or #2 pencil, kneaded eraser, ruler, Elmer’s or Sobo’s glue, scissors, paper towels and Artists tape. 

 



Great American Songs and Stories, Pepsico Theater

Return engagement! Come join Dr. Joe on another musical journey through a different era of the Great American Song Book. He shares his extensive knowledge of behind the scenes stories about the composers and their music, including Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and others.  Dr. Joe begins with George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and continues with the music of the 1940’s.  He discusses the clever lyrics of each song and treats us to his musical creativity by playing these melodies for us on the grand piano. 

 



Great Decisions 2014, Room W213

Global concerns! This course is a discussion of eight issues identified by the Foreign Policy Association as critical at this point in time.  The topics are defense technology, Israel and the United States, Turkey’s challenge, Islam awakening, energy independence, food and climate, China’s foreign policy and United States  trade policy. In preparation for the eight discussions, each student should read the appropriate chapter in the “Great Decisions” booklet supplied by Lifetime Learners.

 



Great Political Films, E218

New! What can films teach us about politics?  This course uses clips from great movies to explore some of the political issues of our time.  Films discussed include The Godfather, Doctor Strangelove, Downfall, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and JFK.

 



History of the Mystery – A Peek into the 19th Century, E223

New! Although there have been many mystery stories throughout literature, the first modern mystery was Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841).  We examine early mystery writers in France, England and the United States. By reading in class, we study some of the early mysteries and discover the clues to the genre. Some of the major suspects under investigation are Edgar Allen Poe, Emile Gaboriau and Arthur Conan Doyle.  Watch out for red herrings!

 



I Love to Read, W215

Always New.  Join six LLI members as they lead interesting and lively discussions of contemporary titles and old classics.

 March 16 – Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Facilitator Michael Mugnolo. 
One of the original angry men of post-war Britain, Amis sought to expose and satirize the stultification of conventional English life.  Often described as the funniest British novel of the last half of the 20thcentury, Lucky Jim follows the adventures of James Dixon, a reluctant medieval history lecturer and his disastrous attempt to earn tenure.

March 23 – Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Facilitator Heather Hopkins. 
This past spring in the New York Times a headline read, “Turkey offers condolences to Armenians.”  In Bohjalian’s novel, we follow the story of a young Armenian woman who travels to Aleppo, Syria in 1915 to help deliver supplies and care to refugees of the Armenian genocide.  There she meets an Armenian engineer and it is their granddaughter who, years later, traces her family’s history, uncovering love and sorrow  ─ a long hidden secret.

March 30 – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Facilitator Morgan Corrigan. 
Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires.  The system was simple.  Everyone understood it.  Books were for burning… along with the houses in which they were hidden.  Written over 60 years ago, the world depicted in this text is more and more frightenly real in our own time.  Too many of Bradbury’s prescient scenarios have already come to pass.

April 6 — The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer. Facilitator Richard Auwarter. 
From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, there have been more than two dozen assassination attempts on Presidents of the United States.  Four were successful. Beecher White discovers a killer in Washington, D.C. who is systematically recreating crimes of the four assassins.  He discovers that during the course of 100 years all four murders were secretly connected.  An incredible mystery with historical facts and secret codes.

April 13 – The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. Facilitator Miwako Ogasawara. 
Christine, age 28, toils in a provincial post office in post-WWI Austria, a country utterly impoverished.  She receives a telegram from her rich aunt inviting her to a resort in the Swiss Alps.  Christine is swept into a world of inconceivable wealth and feels herself transformed until her aunt suddenly cuts her loose and she has to return to a life of poverty and little hope at the post office.  By chance, she meets Ferdinand, a bitter war veteran and disappointed architect, and finds in him a kindred spirit.  Together they make a daring plan to leap into an unknown future.  

April 20 – A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. Facilitator John Sutton. 
The author’s first novel, set in an Appalachian town, embeds a coming of age story within a mystery.  Its three narrators ─ an elderly midwife, a tormented sheriff and a precocious nine year old ─ are caught in a struggle against a local church and its twisted charismatic pastor.

 



I Want to Write: A Creative Writing Journey, W245

New! How many times have you heard someone say, “I want to write but I don’t know how to begin?” or “I have a great idea, but who wants to read it?”  Whatever the reason, now is the time to begin your writing journey.  Wherever you are on your creative path, this class helps you discover and develop your individual style; unleash your creativity; and hone your skills from idea to finished work.  (Note: Students with a project in progress or completed past works are welcome to bring them to class for feedback.)  The environment is positive, encouraging and most of all – creative and fun.

 

 



Introduction to Pastel, W131

New! Students discover the beautiful art of pastels.  This is not mere chalk, but a beautiful, exciting and versatile medium of pure pigment in every color imaginable.  Students  explore the various types of pastels, surfaces, application methods and underpainting techniques.  An introduction to design, composition, color and values will be given through hands on demonstrations and observation.  Experience in painting or an artistic background is not required ─ just a willingness to experiment, explore and be creative.

 



ISMs: Art from Romanticism through Abstract Expressionism, CLOSED

Changing views! Have you ever wanted to understand the differences among the “isms”?  Now is your chance! Spend a fun eight weeks learning what characterizes each of the “isms”: Fauvism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism, Primitivism and more.  View the works of Picasso, Braque, Dali, Matisse, Dufy, Brancusi, Beckman, Mondrian, Klee, to name a few.  Requirements are curiosity and opinions; there will be lively exchanges. 

 

 



Italiano Primi Passi – First Steps in Italian, W221

Cominciamo! Is learning a language difficult?  No! Come help to dispel the myth and discover how easy, fun and rewarding it can be.  Recent research extols the benefits of bilingualism. We optimize the brain’s natural ability to acquire languages by learning high frequency Italian words through the use of gestures, personal stories, songs and simple language.  The facilitator bypasses the traditional approach by creating a comprehensive, laid back and entertaining immersion environment.  Instead of memorizing random lists of vocabulary and verb conjugations, one gains fluency fast just by listening and participating.

Ann Bolognani taught French and Spanish at Darien High School.  She is married to an Italian, loves the language and would like to share it with others who are eager to have a positive language learning experience.

8 sessions



Jesus of Nazareth, W213

Revisit! Who was Jesus of Nazareth?  We examine the four gospels of the New Christian Scriptures to learn about early Jewish-Christian communities. We discuss the stories of Jesus’ birth, his hidden years, his baptism and events that made him a controversial figure among his friends and rulers. This is the Jesus who preaches and teaches in Jerusalem and the Galilean synagogues, who interprets the Torah with authority, confronts the Scribes and Pharisees and performs miracles as proof of the reign of God. Finally, we look at the effects of his actions – the confrontations that led to his crucifixion ─ and at those Jewish-Christian communities that believed in his resurrection from the dead. 

 



Leonard Bernstein, CLOSED

New! Prodigiously gifted as a composer, pianist, conductor, Emmy Award winning TV commentator, teacher and writer, Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990) packed more into a lifetime than did any other musical figure in history.  Returning for his fifth course, Joshua Berrett offers an appreciation of Bernstein’s legacy, drawing upon examples of his  astonishing accomplishments in these multiple areas over the span of 50 years.

 



Mysteries Can Be Murder, W226 

New! Everyone has a mystery inside that’s dying to come out.  This course will cover finding ideas, making the leap from idea to premise, creating your sleuth and tackling character development.   Other important aspects include writing believable dialogue, building a sense of place, hiding clues in plain sight and bringing action scenes to life.  In addition, we learn how to sell a manuscript.  The course will involves writing exercises and brainstorming with the instructor and fellow students.

        



Once Upon a Lifetime: Memoir Writing, E121 

Second page! Writing one’s memoir is no longer for the rich and famous. In addition to recording special memories, writing about the events of one’s life can offer unexpected benefits: boosting memory, assisting in the grief process and sharing the journey with family. Participants learn the characteristics of the genre, how to focus and begin writing and how to find one’s “voice”.  We learn to organize our thoughts and refine the stories through discussion with the instructor and classmates. The course offers a creative environment in which to write, reminisce and share milestones.

             



Persian Poets, E228

New! When one thinks of Iran (Persia), the tendency is to think of militancy, religious fervor and terrorism. It is easy to forget that Iran has a long history of poetry, aesthetics and philosophy.  We study the seven most important poets of Persia from ancient to modern times. Poetry samples for each of the poets are provided for students to read at home and discuss at class.

           



Pulitzer Prize-Winning Plays, W131

New! Read and analyze prestigious plays recognized by the Pulitzer Prize Committee.  Plays listed are between 100 and 200 pages in length.

Anna Christie by Eugene O’Neill (1922). In this compelling account of a young woman’s decline and subsequent salvation, O’Neill presents a realistic and painful exploration of family conflict and the harsh reality of women’s lives in the early part of the 20th century.

 Picnic by William Inge (1953). Inge’s exploration of small town life, his focus on family relationships and his depiction of the loneliness that permeates so many peoples’ lives struck a chord with 1950’s audiences and has continued to do so today.

 Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank (1956). The drama details approximately two years in the life of a Jewish teenager during World War II. During much of the period covered by her journal, Anne and her family are in hiding in an attempt to escape Hitler’s anti-Jewish laws and genocidal acts.

 Tally’s Folly by Lanford Wilson (1980). Sally is from a conservative wealthy small town family of bigoted Protestants, and Matt is a Jewish accountant twelve years her senior.  The story of how they become brave enough to reveal their most painful secrets touch audiences and critics alike.

That Championship Season by Jason Miller (1983). Miller’s drama was regarded as one of the more important plays of the time.  In addition to reflecting the emptiness of America’s emphasis on winning and other suspect values, the play was also regarded as the kind of quintessential American drama Broadway should have been producing, but was not.

 The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein (1989). The Heidi Chronicles is seen as a success in the subgenre of feminist theatre.  The play distinguished Wasserstein as a significant dramatic voice of the Baby Boom generation.  Most critics and viewers found the play to be entertaining and few could deny the author’s facility with comedic dialogue.

 Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon (1991). The play follows Jay Kurnitz, a 16-year-old boy living with his grandmother while trying to help raise his younger brother Arty.  His highly dysfunctional family provides little support for Jay.  In fact, they call upon Jay to help them with their own problems and insecurities.

 Dinner With Friends by Donald Margulies (2000). All around us, according to Margulies, relationships are changing, marriages are breaking up.  Its notions of impermanence, the yearning for something else, that the play explores. And, apparently, Margulies has also tapped into audiences all over the world as his play enjoys enormous international success.

              



Relax and Draw:  Joyful Doodling, W131

New! Participants make designs using the abilities they already have.  Unexplored competencies are enhanced by the principles, concepts and examples of design and ornament. In other words, pretty much everyone is better at drawing than they think they are and this class proves it.           

Materials: Bring pencils/pens/markers and erasers to class. The instructor discusses supplies in class, if students wish to purchase additional tools.  Participants are encouraged to keep a “Look Book” – a small notebook or drawing pad where they can collect interesting ideas. (This can also be done digitally on Pinterest.)

              



Snapshots in History: A Retrospective, W213

Reprise. This course explores some of the tumultuous times and historically defining moments from the end of World War II to the Vietnam War.  We put into perspective the major domestic and foreign events and policies of four presidents (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson), the challenges that confronted them and their responses. Join us to explore the critical years following World War II and the legacy that laid the foundation for America’s post-war political, economic and social development.

            

Snapshots JFK Snapshots LBJ Snapshots Tru



Ten Photographs That Shook the World, W232

New! There are photographs that we appreciate for their beauty, and ones that distress us so deeply they are etched in our memories forever.  This course is about those photographs.

What makes a photo iconic? What photographs have influenced social and political change? What impact has the media had on the photographic visualization of world events?  Some photos can capture a crucial moment in time and tell an important story. Using the framework of ten photographs, this course provides an historical overview of developments as well as photography theory.

           



The 1960’s Revisited, W208 

Remember when? Revisit the 1960’s – America’s most turbulent decade, the one that changed everything.  Using video, handouts and PowerPoint slides, we reflect on this period of monumental social and political change.  We explore the new music, fashion, politics, civil rights and technology of the 1960’s.  Take a close look at the people, events and discoveries that defined how Americans came to think about their government, their place in the world and even about themselves.

            



The Roaring Twenties, W129  

New! The Roaring Twenties refers to a time after World War I and before the Great Depression, when a period of sustained economic prosperity was fueled by the rise of modern industrialization and a bewildering array of inventions. It also was a time of the greatest social change in modern history, a period of “normalcy” as defined by an American President in the wake of the hyper-emotional patriotism of the war years.  The decade’s distinctive cultural edge was embraced by the major cities of the U.S. and Europe. It brought a completely changed world with disintegrating values, financial overindulgence and moral decay as well as advances in transportation, medicine, sports and a whole lot more.

          



The Roosevelts: Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, W124

New! We chronicle the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics in the 20th century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858, to Eleanor’s death in 1962.  Over the course of those years, Teddy would become the 26th President of the United States and his beloved niece would marry his fifth cousin Franklin, who became 32nd President.  With the use of handouts, video and PowerPoint slides, we learn how these three individuals changed American history.

Roosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt Franklin



The Words of Wall Street:  Deciphering the Jargon of Finance and Investments, E225

Expanded! This course is not an investment class. It focuses on the jargon that we all hear when we talk with our financial advisors, read the financial press or watch the cable finance channels. Through an examination of terms, expressions and concepts investors commonly use, students gain a better understanding of how Wall Street works.  Participants are encouraged to bring unfamiliar words, phrases and expressions to class for discussion.  New to the spring session is an expanded section on retirement and investment planning.  The course will not offer specific advice on either topic.



Useful Origami, W246

New folds! We make a variety of origami objects including cups, boxes, gift bags, cards, envelopes, hats, wallets, toys and more.  The class is for those who have never folded or those who want to improve their skills. We begin with simple models and proceed to more sophisticated ones.  Students learn traditional and modern models, sampling from a variety of origami authors. Participants should bring a 6- or 8-inch pack of origami paper to the first class.

          



Very Verdi – Six Operas, CLOSED

New!  We view excerpts of six opera videos of Verdi masterpieces presented in chronological order.  Verdi wrote 27 operas in his career, with some revised several times. One early one, Alzira, was such an embarrassment to him that he later tried to suppress it from his operatic resume. We won’t see Alzira but we view Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Aida, Otello and one more to be chosen.   No prior knowledge of opera is necessary.

             



Warlords:  Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin and Hitler in World War II, Room E223

New! This course focuses on the activities of the warlords who shaped World War II. It will study the interactions of Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt and Hitler as politicians, diplomats and military leaders.  The course uses film clips, lectures and discussions to analyze how these men fought the greatest war in history.

              Warlords Church Roos



Watercolor: Beginner, W243

More paint! Become a budding artist.  Discover the joys and challenges of watercolor.   This course offers step-by-step guidance in techniques – brush strokes, color mixing and composition – that create realistic landscapes, seascapes and still life paintings.  Pre-created scenes are available for purchase. Do not purchase any art supplies until you receive a list at the first class.  If you already have supplies, bring them.  The facilitator offers supplies for purchase.

This course is limited to 20 students.



Watercolor: Intermediate, CLOSED

Even more paint! If you are an intermediate-level watercolorist, here’s a chance to improve your technique. This course is a step-by-step guide to painting traditional landscapes, seascapes and still life.  We cover these techniques: textures, perspectives, transparent washes, masking, planning and composition.  Bring paints (tubes preferred), a palette, your favorite brushes, watercolor paper and a water container to class.  Some pre-created scenes and supplies are available for purchase.

            



World War I, Room E228

Revisit! We mark the centennial of the most important event in human history in the last 100 years: World War I. The effects of this war persist to this day.  Witness Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Ukraine, the tragedy of the Balkans and Vietnam – all products of the War and Colonialism. However, the road to World War I goes back more than a century to the French Revolution. We cover how the effects of the War influenced the dynamics of change by undermining the monarchies of Europe, culminating in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  We trace and explain how the Guns of August led to a war that would forever change the political, military, strategic and social landscape forever. This was World War I.

          



World War II:  War in the Pacific, CLOSED

Another front! Using extensive photographs and narratives, this course takes an in-depth look at eight of the most significant battles between the United States forces vs. Imperial Japanese forces from the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, to the signing of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, in September of 1945.