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FALL 2017
September 5 -- November 14, 2017

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

The Dilemmas for Mayors of Cities: The Best and Worst Mayors

Many U.S. cities have had fascinating mayors. For example, Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell and his courageous fight to bring a great American city back to life, which was the basis for the book A Prayer for the City. Other cities have been plagued with poor and or corrupt administrations, but there have been mayors who have fought the decaying cities and brought them back. How did they do it, who were they, and how long did their reforms last? What were the consequences? What made a difference? Pick a mayor and share information about his or her administration.

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids -- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." So begins Ralph Ellison's luminous 1952 work, Invisible Man. Lyrical, picaresque, surreal, but never tedious, this is one of the very greatest of the modern American novels.

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 discussion.

America's First Ladies: Loves, Lives, and Tears

The story of America's First Ladies is, above all, a history, manners, morals of our country since its foundation, and the more we know about these women the more we know about ourselves as a people. These ladies have regal status, celebrity, and all the comforts money can buy, but they lose their freedom and autonomy by constant security, protection, lack of privacy, demanding public appearances, a public life scrutinized by the media, and often prejudices and rumors. Many have been able to support and/or guide their husbands as confidants or political advisors, often providing a significant impact on history.

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

Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook

Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing's 1962 novel presents a multi-layered account of a young writer's life, her African experience, the political life of the period, and her personal diary, which she tries to weave together into one "golden" notebook. When published, the novel won notice for its experimental form, as well as for then radical feminist content. We'll use the Harper Perennial Modern Classics paperback edition of 228, available on Amazon for $11.72 new, used from $3.57. ISBN 10: 0007247206

Australia -- America's Sister Nation

In 1787 the British government sent a fleet to colonize Australia. Never had a colony been founded so far from its parent state, or in such ignorance of the land it occupied. An unexplored continent would become a jail. The convicts transported there would triumph over their unbelievably harsh beginnings and build a culture uniquely their own. However, many of the stages of Australia's evolution and many of the obstacles she overcame were very similar to those experienced by the United States -- a period of forced labor, a "wild west" period, a "gold rush" and an "inconvenient" indigenous population. How did she deal with these problems as compared to our own experience? We will approach our topic chronologically, exploring the history of Australia from her founding to the present day -- her development, economics, challenges, and her culture.

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

1917: What Happened 100 years ago?

Nineteen seventeen was a pivotal year in world history. Here are some examples of the events that occurred that year: U.S. entry into World War I; J. Edgar Hoover gets job in US Department of Justice; first jazz record recorded; Russian February Revolution; St. Louis Illinois race riots; Jews expelled from Tel Aviv & Jaffa by Turkish authorities; The Great Fire of Atlanta; US Congress passes Selective Service Act; Emma Goldman imprisoned for obstructing draft; suffragists arrested as they picket the White House; Balfour Declaration; Mata Hari executed for spying; 18th Amendment and prohibition. Take your pick from these and other fascinating events that occurred in this momentous year.

Favorite and/or Historical Cities Around the World.

Let's look around the world for romantic cites like Paris and Venice, as well as rebuilt ones like Berlin and Atlanta. There were also famous cities along the Silk Road like Ancient Byzantium (now Istanbul), Aleppo, and Mosul. Other cities interacted with different cultures like Cusco, Peru; Lhasa, Tibet; and Beijing, China. There are other cities that you have visited or would like to visit. Pick a city and share its fascinating history, architecture, and culture.

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

Arthur Conon Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

Let's explore Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's world of mystery and logic seen through the eyes of his iconic detective Sherlock Holmes. Pick your favorite Holmes story, such as "The Hound of the Baskervilles," "A Scandal in Bohemia," or "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." We will not only look at the plot devices and Holmes powers of deduction, but we will delve into he psychological motivations of Holmes and the other characters that inhabit these stories.

Media Giants Who Shaped American Politics and Culture

The rise in power and influence of America's communications empires, at times, led to the domination of government by the press. What did the media giants share in common? How did they influence politics? How were they able to gain and wield that power? How did the various media outlets handle the news and what was their bias? The press has always played a powerful role in politics. How has that played out? A story without conflict won't draw an audience; thus, the media seeks conflict, or does it at times create conflict? Pick an individual media giant such as Walter Cronkite, Horace Greeley, Joseph Pulitzer, or Bill Riley, or pick an influential media organization such of the Luce Organization, The New York Times, radio/television networks such as NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox New, and share how they impacted the news and society at large.

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

Tech Tycoons

The business world is filled with stories of people who have used their technological skills to develop companies that have had a marked influence on society. Participants in this study group will examine the life of each tycoon and their successes and failures as well as the skills they employed in creating their fortunes. Some prominent people who fit into this category are Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and many more.

America's Wars -- Necessary Or Not?

From Valley Forge to Afghanistan, for 240 years, almost every American generation has gone to war. At the time, going to war probably seemed like a good idea: we were "forming a more perfect union," "making the world safe for democracy," "nation-building," and "preserving the union." Subsequent generations are looking at these decisions differently. This class will look at some of America's wars. Was there popular support; what were the specific objectives; was there an exit strategy; was our national interest promoted or subverted by going to war; was the gain worth the terrible cost? In other words, which of our wars was necessary?

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

The Nature of the Earth: an Introduction to Geology

The geological world lies just outside our front doors. We will explore physical geology, the study of Earth's minerals, rocks, soils, and the processes operating on all of them through time. Since geology impacts the economy, city planning and development we will discuss how geology plays a role in our lives. Let's develop an understanding of our physical world and why it is important.

Nobel Peace Prizes

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, which became know as the Nobel Prizes. The categories are Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Economics, Literature, and Peace. This class will focus on the Nobel Peace Prize, given to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Ninety-seven Peace Prizes have been awarded since 1901. Select a recipient and share what he or she accomplished that year to deserve this prize.


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