Adventures in Lifelong Learning


9:00 am – 10:30 am

Course 101 Shakespeare’s King Lear:  “Bound upon a Wheel of Fire”                               

Instructor:  Helen Heineman, PhD, President Emerita, Framingham State University

King Lear has been described as Shakespeare’s greatest work, and yet it is the least popular and least presented on stage of the famous tragedies.  It is certainly the most terrible picture Shakespeare ever painted of humanity, while it examines the way the world works, not the way we want it to work.  It is also a family drama, depicting the relationships of parents and children, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons.  The topics are familiar:  age, with its slackening of reason, youth, with its covetousness.  It contains the most familiar question in the history of families: “How much do you love me?”  Lear, the play’s central figure, is loved by the play’s positive characters, and hated by the lesser villains and the great villain Edmund.  The final scene has the most enigmatic ending in drama, leaving a series of questions which we will attempt to answer for ourselves.

King Lear exists in two versions, Quarto 1 and Folio 1.  Dr. Heineman will be referring to the Folger Shakespeare Library edition, an amalgamation of both.   


Course 102 The History of Jazz Part I                                                                                  

Instructor:  Paul Buono, JD, Director of the Jazz Ensemble, Assumption University 

Jazz history is American history – the study of culture, society, politics, and economics of the 20th century.  Its characters are the geniuses, virtuosos, outcasts, pioneers, eccentrics, revolutionaries, and champions of American history.  Post-Civil War America presented tremendous division within the country, but this landscape gave rise to a form of music often referred to as America’s only true art form.

The History of Jazz Part I course will examine the American landscape that existed in the late 1800s through the turn of the century, focusing largely on New Orleans and its fusion of European, African-American, and Caribbean cultures.  The unique socio-political environment of New Orleans created a new form of music and music-making, one that contained elements of European classical music and African-American folk music.  The course will include lecture, active listening, live performance, pictures, and videos to help give students a deeper understanding of the historical context that gave birth to jazz.


10:45 am – 12:15 pm

Course 103 Speaking of Russia

Instructor: Nicholas Racheotes, PhD, Professor Emeritus, FSU

In these four relaxed conversations, modern Russian history is treated on the basis of key themes: 

1)  Enlightened Despotism:  The Reigns of Peter I and Catherine II

2)  The Revolutionaries:  Decembrists, Terrorists, and Bolsheviks

3)  The Precious Metal Cultural Eras:  From the Golden to the Silver Ages of Russian Culture, 1870-1910

4)  The Authoritarians:  From Stalin to Putin, From Agrarian Empire to Nuclear Colossus, and After

With pictorial and musical examples, recommendations for further reading, and references to the anecdotal wealth of the Russian past, the goal is to encourage participants’ curiosity and deepen our understanding of this vital subject.

Course 104 Searching for Life Across the Universe

Instructor: Lawrence McKenna, PhD, Professor, Physics and Earth Science, FSU

In 1950, Enrico Fermi and a few other physicists were sitting at lunch talking about a then-recent phenomenon:  UFOs.  Suddenly, in the middle of lunch, Fermi blurted out, “But where is everybody?” asking a seemingly simple question:  If life like us is common in the Universe, why haven’t we found evidence of them?  If life like us is uncommon in the Universe, then why is it so rare?  We’ll Search for Life in the Universe by looking at the structure and chemistry of the Universe, learning what makes a planet habitable for life like us, discovering the remarkable explosion in our knowledge of planets orbiting distant stars, and finally, we’ll estimate the number of planets in our part of the Universe that may host life like us.  The answer will be surprising, as will the long history of thought across cultures about the existence of life on other planets. 


1:15 pm – 2:45 pm

Course 105 Friend or Foe?  The President and the Media

Insrtuctor:  David Smailes, PhD, Associate Professor, Political Science, Framingham State University               

Teddy Roosevelt once called the presidency a “bully pulpit” that can be used to reach the public (“bully” in his day meant “great”).  But to reach that audience, presidents have found the media to be a necessary part of amplifying the president’s voice.  In this class, we will explore the relationship between the president and the media, and seek to understand why presidents have found the media to be both a friend, and at times a foe, in trying to “preach” to the American people.