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FALL 2019
Tuesday September 3, 2019 -- Thursday November 7, 2019

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

The Art of the Portrait

In this class we will be looking at paintings in which the human face, figure, dress, and setting combine to portray a specific person. How do artists create likeness, personality and mood? What religious, dynastic, aristocratic, or bourgeois purposes might they serve? How do political portraits, like those of Jacques-Louis David or Gilbert Stuart, achieve their effects? What makes self-portraits, like those of Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer, so compelling? How has portrait painting evolved and how does it express the ethos of each age? Members may choose to explore an artist or a category.

From Sodbusters to Clock Punchers

How was the United States transformed from a primarily agrarian society into the most powerful industrial society on Earth in just 50 years? The focus will be on Industrialization and Urbanization from 1865 to WWI. There are many sub-topics that could be explored, such as: inventors/inventions, steel, railroads, oil, telegraph, machines, entrepreneurs/robber barons, monopolies/trusts, urban housing/sanitation, and immigrants. We can also explore such movements as labor unionism, the Social Gospel, Populism, and Progressivism. Additionally, we can look at the leading characters of each.

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.

Famous Spies and Their Impact on History

This class will focus on some famous spy or spies, such as the Rosenbergs, Kim Philby, Mata Hari, Aldrich Ames, Giacomo Casanova, etc., including who they were, what they did, why if known, and how their actions impacted society and History.

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

"Go West Young Man"

The phrase "Go West Young Man" has been interlaced with the settling of the West. In this class we will look at the laws, people, acts, and events that have influenced the West and furthered westward settlement/expansion. Some examples are the Northwest Ordinance, railroads, Oregon Trail, Homestead Act, Donner Party, Louisiana Purchase, etc. Join us as we WESTWARD HO the wagons.

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Impeachment but Were Afraid to Ask

In the wake of the Mueller Report, it is possible that the Democrats will try to impeach President Trump now that they have control of the House of Representatives. Only two presidents have ever been impeached by Congress and have had a trial in the Senate, and none has ever been removed (although President Nixon was on the brink of removal when he resigned). This course will look at impeachment articles in the Constitution and how they were applied in the past and how they may be applied in the future. This course will also look at the politics of the Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton impeachment proceedings and how they affected Congressional decisions.

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

It Was 1919 and You Weren't There

The year 1919 was a critical one for world history. Among these events were the Russian Civil War, Prohibition in the USA, Paris Peace Conference and the establishment of the Weimar Republic. Other things occurring during 1919 were the Great Molasses Flood, the Anglo-Irish War, the General Seattle Strike, and the Palmer raids. Last but not least was World Wide Women's Suffrage. Join us as we explore these and other fascinating things occurring during 1919.

History of the San Fernando Valley

The San Fernando Valley has a fascinating history that lends itself to a variety of topics for this class. The first inhabitants were the Tonva, Tatavoa, and Chumash Indians, followed by the Spanish in 1769. Under the Spanish and then the Mexican government, the Valley was carved into large land grants. The next phase in the Valley history began when California became a state in 1850 and dry wheat farming was introduced in the 1870s that gave rise to small farm towns throughout the Valley. The Los Angeles Aqueduct (1913) and the extension of the Pacific Electric Railway (Red Cars) facilitated land development in the 1910s and 1920s. The motion picture, automobile and aircraft industries then spurred economic growth during and after World War II. The Valley's demographic and economic growth was further enhanced by the post-WW II housing boom. The extension of the 101 freeway in the late 1950s and early 1960s further facilitated the housing development in the Valley, which we see to this day. Come join us as we explore the history of this region that we call home.

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

South African Authors: Alan Paton's Too Late the Phalarope and J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians

South Africa has produced some fine writers who examined the tragedy of apartheid in different ways. We will start with Alan Paton's novel Too Late the Phalarope (Scribner Edition ISBN-10: 0684818957) and then read J. M. Coetzee's allegorical novel Waiting for the Barbarians (Penguin Ink) ISBN-10: 0143116924

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

I'll See You in Court

Let's examine courtroom dramas. There have been hundreds of films set in and around the courtroom ranging from Anatomy of a Murder to My Cousin Vinny. Class members will submit their favorite courtroom drama in advance and the top ten will be selected from this list and presented over the course of the semester.

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

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was an important event during the lives of most SAGE members. This course will examine the origins of that War starting with the anti-Japanese guerilla activities led by Ho Chi Min during WWII and ending with the fall of Saigon in 1975. Topics may include background for the war both in global politics and in Southeast Asia, the fighting and the domestic politics in different phases of the war, personal participation in the war or in anti-war demonstrations, important incidents such as My Lai, Pentagon Papers, etc..


Brothels were an important part of many civilizations throughout history and they were essential to the economy of many towns. The "ladies" were often pillars of the community. Madams became well known and well connected in their communities. This course will explore bordellos, brothels, famous "spoiled doves" and madams, famous patrons (Sundance Kid; Wyatt Earp) both in history and current times. Think Heidi Fleiss!

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

Catch 22

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller is a novel that satirizes war. One group of critics rated it as the 7th best novel in English in the 20th century. It spoofs the often-absurd bureaucracy of the military and has some similarity to the black comedy of the film Dr. Strangelove, or How I've Come to Love the Bomb. This novel deals with antics of American bombardiers in the Italian theatre of World War II and includes some amusing characters such as Major Major and Milo Minderbinder.

The Golden Age of Islam

Many of us were taught in our Eurocentered history classes that the period between the seventh and twelfth (or thereabout) centuries were the dark ages. In fact, this was true only in Europe. There was a vibrant, dynamic culture in the Islamic world whose contributions to our modern life have long been neglected and discounted. We owe a debt to the Islamic pioneers who made great advances in the fields of education, law, philosophy, mathematics, science and much more. Participants will select an area to help us appreciate the output of these giants of history.


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