Adventures in Lifelong Learning
SPRING 2024 COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
9:00 – 10:30 AM
Charles Dickens: A Beginning Like No Other
Dr. Helen Heineman
The 23-year-old author described the beginning of his first novel simply: ”I thought of Mr. Pickwick and wrote the first chapter.” So great a feat has never been described in so few words. It was a remarkable achievement, the creation of Samuel Pickwick, a positively good man. But to his servant Sam Weller, the ideal Cockney, shrewd, kindly, and undaunted, is due the first immense success of the book. From the instant he appeared, sales soared. Mr. Pickwick could not have done without him. The book owes much to its three greatest characters: Mr. Pickwick, Sam Weller, and Toby, his father. Dickens wrote the book, from number to number, scarcely knowing what his chapters were going to do next. It’s a precocious masterpiece, one that has never been equaled in the history of the English novel. As one critic wrote, it is “not a good novel…not a bad novel…not a novel at all…something nobler than a novel.” In picaresque form, it has almost no plot. As the book went on in an unbroken rush, Dickens was more utterly spontaneous than ever again, as he became conscious of the tremendous force that was growing within him. We will read the novel in four installments in the Penguin Classics Edition. For the first class, students should read Part I, chapters 1-14.
Ancient Andean Art and Iconography
Dr. Yumi Park Huntington
This course presents an in-depth study of the pre-Columbian artistic traditions centered along the Andean regions of South America, from their earliest beginnings to the time of European contact. Emphasis is placed on recognizing key works of art and architecture and the social, political, and religious contexts within which they were created.
10:45 – 12:15 PM
Native American History to 1860
Dr. Joseph Adelman
The history of Indigenous America is usually told as a tale of encounters and conquest. Europeans branched out across the Atlantic and met with a range of new cultures from Hudson Bay to Tierra del Fuego. Armed with military technology and debilitating diseases previously unheard of in the lands they explored, they claimed millions of square miles for themselves, displacing or killing the natives they encountered. Through that process nearly three dozen independent nations arose in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. History, in other words, is written as a tale of European expansion. But what if we flip the script? What if, instead of focusing on Europeans coming across the Atlantic to encounter Native Americans, we try to see the past through native eyes? This course will use that question as our entry point into studying native societies and cultures in North America from before contact with Europeans through the start of the U.S. Civil War.
The Personal is Political: Everyday Revolutionaries in the Women’s Liberation Movement in England and the United States
Dr. Bridgette Sheridan
While many are aware of the rise of a so-called “second wave” of feminism in the mid-twentieth century, the story of the more radical factions in this movement is less known. Who were these “women’s liberationists,” and how did they build an international women’s movement? In this course, we explore part of that story by examining the rise of women’s liberation in the United States and England, and the role that conversations across the Atlantic played in building the movement. Our class meetings will focus on the following:
- Rumblings of a movement: Civil Rights, the New Left, and women’s concerns in the US
- The Whole World is Watching: The Miss America Protest in 1968 and its aftermath
- Across the Atlantic: the first Women’s Liberation Conference in England in 1970 (and the role that US feminists played in helping to shape it)
- Living the Revolutionary Life: letters and memoirs of women’s liberationists in the US and England
Using clips from documentaries, women’s newspapers, conference artifacts, women’s letters, and memoirs, we will explore these women’s dreams for a better world and how they have shaped our lives up to the present day.
1:15 – 2:45 PM
Four Decisions That (Will) Matter: The Supreme Court, Conservatism and Current Controversies
Dr. David Smailes
The Supreme Court is one of the most consequential institutions of government in the United States: its decisions have profound and enduring importance for American life and politics. In this class, we will explore four of the major cases currently before the Court that will be decided later this year. We'll learn about the cases by examining the law and politics behind each case, the political balance of the Court, the influence of conservative thought on the current majority, and the likely consequences for our country in each decision.