Summer Course Descriptions

OLLI is offering online courses for the Summer semester. Registration opens June 1, 2020.

View detailed course descriptions below. For the course schedule or to learn how to register, view the Summer 2020 Session page.

This is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts, who fought against PG&E. The cases involved cancer-causing pollution by the Utility. The liability of PG&E for the recent wildfires and explosions will also be examined.

Today’s class is about Canadian Joni Mitchell. Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt are living legends, two of the greatest women singers of popular music. Unique in their own way — Mitchell is a prolific songwriter — these two icons have defined grace, soul, style and heart for the past 50 years.

This is Part 1 of a two-part series of lectures on dystopian movies. The rich canon of dystopian dramas draws on source material as wide-ranging as Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 anti-fascist, It Can’t Happen Here, to Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 medically terrifying Never Let Me Go. Our dystopias mirror our present social anxieties by dramatizing their possible consequences.

Opera is full of grand and passionate heroines who — contrary to the stereotype of the tragic operatic victim — bravely overcome their obstacles and don't die! San Francisco Opera’s Dramaturg Emeritus Kip Cranna will use video examples (with English subtitles) to explore the fascinating heroism of intrepid female characters through the centuries.

The subject of today’s class is Linda Ronstadt. Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell are living legends, two of the greatest women singers of popular music. Unique in their own way— Mitchell is a prolific songwriter — these two icons have defined grace, soul, style and heart for the past 50 years.

Irving Berlin wrote some of America’s most beloved songs, among them: “Alexander’s Rag Time Band,” “Always,” “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.”  Learn about Berlin’s personal and professional life and find out how this young immigrant, with no formal training but remarkable raw talent, became an inventive and eventually iconic composer and lyricist.

Part 2 of a two-part series of lectures on Dystopian movies. The rich canon of dystopian dramas draws on source material as wide ranging as Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 anti-fascist, It Can’t Happen Here ,to Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 medically terrifying Never Let Me Go. Our dystopias mirror our present social anxieties by dramatizing their possible consequences.

Edouard Manet, the man who shocked le tout Paris with “Luncheon on the Grass” and “Olympia” in the 1860s and paved the way for the Impressionists, is considered by many to be the father of modern art. But he was more a bourgeois than a bohemian, and ended his artistic life painting fruit and flowers.

Music historian and author Richie Unterberger shows and discusses nearly 200 pictures of San Francisco rock musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s, including work by some of the most famous photographers on the scene.

California photographers have been pioneers of style, from early evocation of mood to midcentury documentation of reality to contemporary self-conscious art making. Among others, we’ll explore the work of Ansel Adams, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and many others.

What makes Casablanca such a great film? Why is it such a flawed script? And why do none of those flaws matter?  Here’s looking at the start of a beautiful friendship as you come to see this old favorite in a whole new way.

Beginning with the earliest days of movie musicals, we go through the changes and additions to this fabulous American art form. From Fred and Ginger to My Fair Lady, from Chicago to La La Land, we follow the singing and dancing as well as celebrate the artists and craftspeople who put it all together. 

From Thomas Jefferson’s famous observation that America had to go its own way so that Americans could secure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to Bhutan’s contemporary crusade to prioritize Gross National Happiness over material wealth, there has been no shortage of platforms promising a political pathway to happiness. But what’s really behind this peculiar link between politics and happiness, and has it actually made anyone happier? Come find out — you’ll be happy you did.

Rules of polite conversation in French are quite different in Paris, Montreal, and Geneva. Advance linguistic knowledge can prevent misunderstandings. We’ll take a mini-world tour to uncover conversational conventions, with stops in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa. Bring your travel hats!

In this class, we will be discussing social issue films, such as Gentlemen’s Agreement, The Oxbow Incident, To Kill a Mockingbird, and I was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. We will also be looking at movies that changed the world on a more personal basis, such as On the Waterfront, Norma Rae, and Stand and Deliver. The list is as endless as a good film itself!

The USS Hornet, a state-of-the art Essex-Class carrier, fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea: June 19-20, 1944. This carrier-based sea battle dealt a decisive blow to Japan’s carrier force and air power. The victory was so one-sided that it came to be referred to as, “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”

The end of WWII demanded the rebuilding of Europe and Japan and the forging of a cooperative peace to ensure that global-wide conflict would not erupt again. Both Germany and Japan benefitted immensely from their post-war relationship with the United States. Today, Germany enjoys a prominent place in European politics while Japan struggles to maintain good relations in Asia.

Women worked together over decades to get the right to vote in federal elections. They petitioned, held sit-ins, lobbied, went to jail, and eventually the 19th amendment was ratified in the summer of 1920. The crusade was complex, involving contentious personalities and issues. 

In 1942, “Toyosaburo” Fred Korematsu was an average 23-year-old Californian who refused to obey Executive Order 9006, which sent 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry into internment camps. He then became something extraordinary, a civil rights champion. This is his story and that of the Japanese-American internees.

In one of the wildest presidential election years in our nation's history, two dissenters left the mainstream and waded into turbulent waters. 

One of America’s most famous women, Gertrude Stein, was a novelist, poet, playwright and avid art collector. She "modestly" comments that without her patronage some of the artists and writers that she promoted might not have emerged as they did to eventually take over the art world. With her life partner Alice B. Toklas, they lived in Paris during the early movement of progressive art.

The psychedelic birth of Pink Floyd, featuring rare film clips, recordings, and pictures of the great British rock group from the brief time they were led by Syd Barrett, their original lead guitarist and chief singer-songwriter.

Judaism is a religion and a civilization. To understand Judaism well is to understand the roots of Christianity and Islam. Judaism is the antecedent for and has had deep impact on the Western religions of Christianity and Islam. This class will explore the evolution of Jewish religious perspectives, thought, texts and history from the destruction of the 1st Temple (586 BCE) to the beginnings of early Christianity (325 CE).

We can and must do better. Hebrew and Aramaic are the root languages of much of the Arabic lexicon and grammar. Muslim and Jewish medieval linguists and grammarians identified this fact and collaborated in the development of similar grammatical guidelines and rules. Under Muslim Spanish rule for almost 800 years Jews were second-class citizens — but thrived with their Muslim counterparts in fields such as philosophy, navigation, astronomy, physics, commerce and medicine.

Summer Session Discussion Groups

The Economist magazine provides unbiased reporting and thought-provoking articles. Each week we will review 5-7 short articles selected from the current week’s issue, and class members will lead weekly discussions. Participants must have access to current editions of The Economist. Information on subscriptions, student rates, and special rates is available at 1(800) 456-6086 or economist.com/subscribe.