Sage Classes

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Monday April 1, 2019 -- Thursday June, 6 2019

Monday 1:15-3:15 p.m.

American Socialism: Past, Present, and Future

This course will explore how socialist ideas have been developed throughout the world, starting in the nineteenth century, and how these ideas have been adopted, modified or rejected in American politics, despite the low-vote counts of socialist parties in the US. Potential topics include the history of socialist parties in the US and in other countries; the US, adoption or rejection of socialist ideas such as the eight-hour day, social security, labor laws, and government-sponsored medical care, by conventional American political parties; American political candidates who are self-described democratic socialists; the growing inequality of wealth in the US and the potential for new economic policies to reduce this inequality; and the history of socialist governments in other countries and their influences on the US.

Monday 12:45-3:15 p.m.

Two Grand Operas: Rigoletto and Tosca (Verdi and Puccini)

Rigoletto is one of the greatest tragedies composed by Verdi; Tosca is also one of the greatest tragedies composed by Puccini. Tosca takes place in Rome during the Napoleonic wars, Rigoletto contains the famous aria "La Donna e Mobile." We will watch DVDs in class of each opera (no one will need to purchase them) and then discuss them with equal time spent on each opera.

Tuesday 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Hot Topics

This is an open-ended class. Presentations can utilize any qualified source (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, etc.) covering the recent political or social scene and historical events with current relevancy. Issues can be local, national or international. Controversial topics are welcome as they engender discussion. Join us if you enjoy lively, stimulating discussions.

Re-examination of U.S. Immigration Policy

In light of all the activity/action on immigration, it is time to re-examine U.S. policy of the 20th and 21st centuries. What groups are involved, why did they come, what problems did they face and what contributions have they made to society? We will investigate how the present problems/people are alike/different from the past. Who are the main leaders and what are their views?

Tuesday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Living with the Bomb

In 1961, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, John Kennedy noted that "Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness." We've now been living under that sword for about 70 years. This class will explore the ways that living with nuclear weapons has affected our society-militarily, scientifically, politically, philosophically, culturally, artistically and socially. The potential topics may include the Manhattan Project and the debate among scientists; the first use of such weapons in Japan; the arms race; disarmament efforts; nonproliferation movement; civil defense; espionage (American, German, Russian); inspiration for literature, film and theater; game theory; MAD strategy (mutually assured destruction); issues in politics and in foreign policy (from Libya to Korea to Iran). How has living with the bomb's existential threat been faced, internalized and oddly "normalized"?

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch is a novel by the English author George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), first published in 1871-72. It is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during 1829-32 and follows several distinct, intersecting stories with a large cast of characters. Issues include the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self-interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform, and education. Despite comic elements, Middlemarch is a work of realism encompassing historical events. It is a wonderful book full of compelling characters of all classes and charged with a narrative drive, like that new juggernaut, the railroad, which is tearing its way through the countryside and changing life forever.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

Shhhh! Secret Societies

A secret society is a club or organization whose activities, events, inner functioning, or membership are concealed from non-members. Each society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. Examples are college fraternities and secret societies Skull and Bones at Yale, Loyal Order of Moose and Ancient Order of Druids (AOD). Add to these the Illuminati, KKK, Anak, Ordo Templi Orientis, Carbonari, ODESSA, Hellfire Club and many more. Today it appears that members of certain police forces have bonded together to form such societies. And then there was Cecil Rhodes! Let's explore what's behind the curtain!

Middle East - THE Boiling Pressure Cooker

Why is the area boiling? Aren't you curious? Is it because of competing religious interests, economic reasons, nationalism, a power struggle between competing political interests, or strategic routs? So much has taken place there, that you can make an argument for each response. Somehow the Middle East is at the center struggles that impact the entire world. The story starts way back in the history and stretches all the way to current days. Think of the Crusaders vs. Salah A Din; the Ottoman rule vs. European imperialism; struggles between France, Britain, and Germany in both world wars; Arab and Jewish Nationalism; oil in the Middle East and its impact on the Cold War; Shiites vs. the Sunnis and the struggle to dominate the Arab world; refugees and terrorism; and current U.S. and Russian interests. The list goes on and on!

Wednesday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

The Tin Drum By Gunter Grass

The story, one of magic realism, is a satirical panorama of German reality during the first half of the 20th century. Weaving together both allegory and contemporary themes, it traces Europe's entry into WWII and its recovery from it. Often confounding and dazzling, it has been called Germany's "post-war conscience." Grass is one of the most significant post-war authors and a Nobel Prize winner. We will use the newest translation, by Breon Mitchell. Paperback ISBN 12:9780547339108. Also available on Kindle.

The Roots of American Folk Music 1700-1940

When we think of "Folk Music," we tend to think of the music of such "folk singers" as Peter, Paul, and Mary. In fact, these were popular, professional musicians of the "folk revival" that occurred in late 1950s and early 1960s, who emulated the folk styles that preceded them. Rather than look at the 20th century folk revival, this course will look at the American regional music that evolved during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, the true American folk music. There are many musical genres to choose from, such as the sacred and secular music of European-Americans and African Americans and many more. Pick a genre or performer and help us explore the roots of American folk music and how it both reflected and shaped America's social history. Note: Nearly all of this music is available on and the coordinator can assist you in accessing it.

Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

World War II in the Pacific, the First Six Months -- Pearl Harbor to Midway

We will explore the U.S. entry into World War II including Pearl Harbor through the Battle of Midway. Topics include the fall of the Philippines, Singapore, Java etc., the British loss of the battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales, Battle of the Coral Sea, Doolittle Raid; breaking the Japanese naval codes, and others concluding with the turning point at Battle of Midway. Topics could also include backgrounds on the people involved: General MacArthur, Admiral Yamamoto, Admiral Nimitz and others.

Shakespeare's Late Romances: Cymbeline and Winter's Tale

Late in his career, after an exhausting series of tragic dramas, Shakespeare returned to romance, but a darker version of the comic romances of his earlier career. Sometimes called tragicomedies, these plays feature people in authority making errors that could have tragic consequences, but happily those consequences are averted. Cymbeline features an astonishing plot including a wicked step-mother, abducted young princes, a damsel in distress, cross-dressing, lethal sexual jealousy, an unscrupulous villain, and more, yet all ends happily if absurdly. Winter's Tale weaves some of these same elements into its plot less chaotically, its happy ending achieved through a hard-fought process of redemption. It's always the younger generation that brings us hope.

Thursday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 Who Got What and Why

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. After the end of "The War to end all Wars", the "The Big Three" (President Woodrow Wilson , British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and French Premier, Georges Clemenceau) met in Paris to shape a lasting peace. They soon discovered, as Clemenceau so succinctly put it "Its easier to make war than to make peace." Some of the most intractable problems of the modern world have roots in the decisions made here: The Balkan wars, the Middle East struggle between the Arabs and the Jews, and, of course, World War II. In this study group, we will focus on the decisions made as decision makers sought to reconstruct the post-war world -- who got what and why? -- as well as the consequences. We will discuss the claims, hopes, and wishes of significant stakeholders. We may also discuss the biographies, ideals and biases of the three principal decision makers (Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George) but will not include biographies of peripheral players. This class will be formatted using the book, Paris 1919, by Margaret MacMillan as a resource but it will not be required.

Thursday 12:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Sports Movies

There are many great films about sports and sports figures. Among them are the following: Chariots of Fire, Bang the Drum Slowly, Money Ball, Raging Bull, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, The Hustler, The Color of Money, Field of Dreams, Blindside, Tin Cup, A League of Their Own, Seabiscuit, 42, Brian's Song and many others. Join us as we view and discuss these films.


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