Spring Course Descriptions

OLLI is offering online courses via Zoom this spring. Registration Opens March 1 for premium members and March 8 for basic and session members.

View detailed course descriptions below. For the courses, view the Spring Session 2021 page.

America experienced more changes in these 35 years than earlier societies did in two or three centuries. Great cities sprang up in the East, vast new farmlands in the West were opened to provide opportunities for millions of enterprising pioneers, and common, ordinary folk came to see “the good life” as theirs for the taking. In this lecture course we will trace the impact of the key players in this dizzying drama.

The United States military has been used and at times misused during the past 75 years as a foreign policy cudgel in an uneven and sometimes inexplicable fashion, making the US appear imperialistic, arrogant, hypocritical and erratic. The world’s most powerful military has not won a war in 75 years. We will look at case studies of American military aggressions which have eroded the image and reputation of America around the world and ended the role of the US as a staunch defender of freedom, the rule of law, and democracy.

Meeting every two weeks, the group will select six to eight short novels from the best classic and contemporary American and British fiction to discuss over the course of the session. *Note: Limited to 25 participants.

Art has never been created for “The Ages”. Paintings we think of as timeless masterpieces were created for viewers from the artist’s own era; consequently, much of the embedded meaning is often lost on today’s audiences. This course will provide cultural context for classic paintings and put modern viewers in the mindset of each artist’s contemporary audience. Course sessions will be structured around three elemental themes that have inspired some of the most magnificent, yet most enigmatic, artistic masterpieces: Art of Creation, Art of Transformation, and Art of Mythology.

The concept “Diva” strikes excitement in some and fear in others. Regardless, an opera diva usually has an exceptional voice. Discover some of these great ladies, learn about their backgrounds and experience their brilliance through performance videos. Hear the variations among the female vocal ranges – soprano, mezzo, contralto. Don’t miss this series, terrific for opera newcomers and long-time fans!

The Economist magazine provides unbiased reporting and thought-provoking articles on global political and economic developments. Each week we will review 6-9 articles selected from the current week’s issue. Class participants are expected to volunteer
to lead a discussion on at least one article. Participants must subscribe or have access to current editions of The Economist (on-line or paper copies, also available at most libraries) and be familiar with using Zoom. Information on subscriptions, student rates and special rates is available at 1-(800)-456-6086 or economistsubscriptions.com.

*Note: Limited to 25 participants. A tutorial will be held for new participants on appropriate equipment for Zoom and Zoom etiquette prior to their first session.

Throughout the long arc of popular music, the great singer elevates the great song to another dimension. This course will explore the lives and careers of eight iconic Rock and R&B singers from the period 1955-75. We will take a cultural and musical journey through the amazing lives and work of these artists through several media: lectures, recorded music, film clips and live music. The instructor will play piano, guitar and sing, and will choose appropriate examples from each genre to perform in class.

The foundation of modern art lies in the work of the late nineteenth century Impressionist and Post Impressionist painters. This course will trace the development of modern art from the French Impressionism of Edward Manet and Claude Monet in the 1870’s to the American Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning in the 1950’s. Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Dada and Surrealism will also be discussed as reflective of twentieth century ideas and values.

Whether you’ve taken a past Courtroom Dramas course or are new, we welcome you to learn about the following topics:

  • Socialists on Trial (two classes): 1) Eugene V. Debs; 2) Paul Robeson
  • Fictional legal drama, Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney
  • Nixon and Watergate: “All the President’s Men”

There will be an extended Q&A at the end of each class. The course will include
video clips, slides, and discussion.

“There are times, it is true, when madness reigns. And days when the best heads hang,” Albrecht Haushofer – April 1945

From numerous plots, to social disruption, to diplomatic efforts, and more than 40 assassination attempts, an extensive list of patriotic Germans from all walks of life risked everything to attempt to stop Adolf Hitler and the Nazi leadership.

No political system exists without law, and no legal system exists without order and justice, but how exactly do these different elements relate to one another? Why, for example, do we say “law and order,” but not “politics and order”? Drawing on national as well as international examples, this course will explore issues such as reparations and defunding the police as well as broader ideas such as the rule of law to answer the question of why we have so much politics and law and yet so little order and justice.

At the Socratic Circus you’ll find intelligent and thoughtful discussion on myriad topics. The goal is not to change anyone’s mind, but to engage in meaningful conversations. Everyone gets to participate, so enroll and join us for the fastest
90 minutes you will experience. Prerequisites: Must have opinions and be willing
to share, listen, and maintain civility at all times.

*Note: Limited to 25 participants. The instructor will provide Zoom assistance upon request.

Poetry is the language of the soul. It’s a powerful technique to access your inner wisdom and express it with power and beauty. In this workshop we will explore
how to go beyond description with poems inspired by the natural world; wildness, meditative silence, leaping and light; how to write a poem that is larger than you are; and writing techniques to make your language sing. All writers are welcome – from raw beginners to seasoned poets who need a jump start for their inspiration. Diane Frank’s teaching style is joyful, loving, and intuitive.

Outsiders are often astonished to discover that California has such a rich literary history. What is so distinctive about California authors and how did they differ from their contemporaries elsewhere? This course will explore the dramatic adventures of Gold Rush-era storytellers including Dame Shirley, Bret Harte and Mark Twain; progressive-era bards such as Frank Norris, Ambrose Bierce and Jack London; depression-era novelists such as Dashiell Hammett and John Steinbeck; and a sampling of the Beats, as well as California’s distinguished non-fiction authors.

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