UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Fall 2008 Schedule

Fall study groups will meet in Fox Hall on the fourth floor. Registration will take place at our Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008, in the Wannalancit Building, MIL Conference Center, Suffolk Street, 10 a.m. - noon. If you wish to register in advance, please leave a message at the LIRA number: 978-934-3135.

In case of inclement weather or other emergency circumstances, cancellations will be announced over radio station WCAP 980 AM. LIRA programs are held independently from the university schedule. However, if UMass Lowell is not in session due to adverse weather conditions, LIRA classes will also be canceled. Check the UMass Lowell website or call 978-934-1212 for university closures.


8 sessions, Monday, 10 a.m. – Noon
Sept. 22, 29, Oct. 6, 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10, 17
No class Oct. 13 (Columbus Day)

The now controversial dropping of the first atomic bomb at the end of World War II marked a turning point in world history. It shaped our domestic and foreign policy and led to numerous incidents like the Cuban missile crisis, which nearly ushered in the unthinkable. In addition, the U.S. wrestled with a host of challenging domestic issues including the rise of the military-industrial complex, the baby boom, the civil rights movement, the rise of the women's, environmental and conservative movements, and of course party politics from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan and beyond.

This eight-week course will explore the turbulent years from 1945 to the raucous election campaign of 2008 through reading, film, web site investigation and lots of discussion. Near the end of the eight-week program UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan will be present to discuss his perspectives on the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential races and reflect on his time in the United States Congress, especially in the post-9/11 years.

Text to be used - Paul S. Boyer, Promises to Keep: The United States since World War II, third edition, Houghton Mifflin, 2004. This is a paperback book. It is available used for about $25 from several online booksellers, including It would be great to get the book ahead of time so you can have it in hand when the class begins. We will get through the book by reading about 75 pages a week.

The instructor, Robert Forrant, is on the faculty at UMass Lowell and can be reached at for further information on the course.


8 sessions, Monday, 12:30–2:30 p.m.
Sept. 22, 29, Oct. 6, 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10, 17
No class Oct. 13 (Columbus Day)

The author, narrator, and singer/pianist whom you will meet in this DVD presentation is Professor Bill Messenger. Great American Music: Broadway Musicals is both an immersion in musical nostalgia that ranges across the entire culture of which music is a part, adding to some of the intricacies of musical composition and song construction-- and how they were used to create specific effects–as well as the social and historical backdrop against which musical theater needs to be considered.The program covers a vast amount of musical territory, starting with the essence of the musical and expanding into the Minstrel Era, the evolution of verse, The Ragtime Years, the Vaudeville Era, Tin PanAlley, Broadway in its infancy, transition into the Jazz Age, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern contrasts, the George Gershwin legacy, Rogers and Hammerstein Era, the 1940's, 1950's, Rock and Roll '60's, and big buck' and long run ‘70's.

Al plans to treat this as a lecture series with open questions and discussion.

Coordinator: Al Sidel*


7 sessions, Tuesday, 10 a.m. – Noon
Sept. 23, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 18
(No class on Sept. 30, Nov. 11)

These 12 recorded lectures by Prof. Lawrence M. Principe of Johns Hopkins University present the relationship between Science and Religion from a historian’s point of view. The introduction to the course states: "Popular opinion generally assumes an antagonistic relationship between the two, but modern scholarship increasingly reveals this as a one-sided view that is not only relatively recent but also self-servingly propagated to this day by extremist voices in both the religion and the science camps."

We will view and discuss one or two lectures per session, proceeding at a pace suitable for the class.

Coordinator: Steve Sussman*


7 sessions, Tuesday, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Sept. 23, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 18
(No class on Sept. 30, Nov. 11)

This will be a continuation of the course given in the Spring on Hebrew Women. We will cover the lives of several women, especially Judith and Jezebel, also including the lives of Mary, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Mary in the New Testament. We will explore their lives for guidelines that can be applied to our modern lives. Persons of all faiths are welcome, and each is asked to bring his/her own Bible.

LIRA 700m ART AND MUSIC: Something for Everyone

8 sessions, Wednesday unless otherwise indicated, 10 a.m. - Noon
Sept. 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5, 13
Please note: Nov. 13 is a Thursday (BSO)

Dorothy Bromage starts the Art and Music season with the program which was cancelled in July. There are other, always welcome presenters in our fall lineup. Liana Cheney, the art historian professor, and Bill Patten, a retired newspaper man, will combine two illustrated talks about famous New Englanders. Chris Brown, the program director of the Discovery Series at the University. There is a new art gallery on Market Street in Lowell which we'll learn about from its president, Steve Syerson, and then we’ll visit the Brush Gallery for a tour by Linda Poras. If you attended the July Folk Festival, you may have seen artisans demonstrating traditional art. They and others currently are exhibiting Massachusetts folk art at the Heritage Museum. We'll car pool for that morning but will later take a coach to Salem to enjoy several special exhibits from the Essex Peabody Museum collection. The final program at the BSO is a Dvorak and Beethoven rehearsal, conducted by Marek Janowski.

Coordinator: Connie Lanseigne-Case*


One session, 12:30–2:30 p.m.
September 24

The innovations are coming thick and fast. You just get used to DVDs--and Blue Ray shows up. Terms for new systems and devices are creating confusion along with excitement. It is time to get some definitions and clarifications that will make it possible to evaluate available technology. Try it? Buy it? A sampling of these new electronic marvels (such as WIFI, Blue Ray, Blue Tooth, HD, Portable hard drive, Flash drive, Blackberry, Wireless router/networks, iPod/MP3 players, and GPS) will be included. Explanation of terms will occupy the first hour. After the break, Jerry Gilmore will offer a lesson on how to create a PowerPoint presentation. Given the availability of a digital projector, computer, and speakers, and given that PowerPoint is easier than you might think, LIRA programs can be enhanced to the benefit of both audience and presenter.

Coordinators: Dorothy Bromage* and Jerry Gilmore*


8 sessions, Thursday, 10 a.m. - Noon
Sept. 25, Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov. 6, Nov. 12 (Wed.)

The Great Decisions group will be studying the remaining topics in the 2008 Briefing Book issued by the Foreign Policy Association. The topics to be covered are European integration: looking ahead; Foreign aid: new players, new goals?; Latin America: the next U.S. President's agenda; and US defense policy. Please join us for some stimulating discussions.

Coordinator: Shirley Mitchell*


6 sessions, Thursday, 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 25, Oct. 2, 9, 16

A group of 4+ star documentaries has been selected for viewing and discussion. Come join us as we watch such outstanding films as Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars (2005), Strike (2006), Senator Obama Goes to Africa (2007), Something the Lord Made (2004), Maria Full of Grace, and Children of Heaven (1999). Come to the Convocation on Sept. 19 to learn more about each of these films.

Coordinator: Barbara Page*


3 sessions, Thursday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Oct. 23, 30, Nov. 6

Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti, based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, will be reviewed. The story is set in Scotland, sung in Italian, and tells the tragic tale of Lucia, who is forced to give up her beloved for an arranged marriage. Tragedy abounds with murder, mayhem, and madness all set to Donizetti’s glorious music. The first session will present an analysis of the opera by a Metropolitan Opera expert. For sessions two and three we will view a Met taping featuring Dame Joan Sutherland.

Note: Met Live in HD will be presenting a new production of this opera in February 2009.

Coordinators: Bob* and Betty* Jack


4 sessions (once a month, usually on Friday, 10 a.m. to Noon) Sept. 26, Oct. 31, Nov. 21, Dec. 19

If you love to read, enjoy reading an eclectic mix of books, and look forward to having like-minded people with whom to discuss these tomes, the book discussion group has it all. Every month, from September through June, we read and discuss a variety of books, including sociological studies, memoirs and biographies, political histories, and, yes, fiction, including the classics. Our selections for the fall include Trinity, a historical novel from the days of Ireland’s fierce struggle for independence by Leon Uris, Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, In My Brother’s Image by Eugene L. Pogany, and several other works of fiction and non-fiction.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*


6 sessions, Friday, 10 a.m. to Noon
Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, Nov. 7, 14

The title of the Teaching Tapes is : From YAO to MAO: 5000 years of Chinese History by Professor Kenneth J. Hammond of New Mexico State College. We will listen to two half hour tapes each session, with adequate time remaining for discussion. Since time will not permit us to complete the course this fall, the plan will be to continue the series in the spring.

The first lecture will cover the Geography and Archeology of the region, setting the stage for our study and identifying the specific sites in which Chinese civilization emerged–-the mountains, coast line, and the river valleys. In the second lecture we will study the first Dynasties, the Xia, followed by the Shang or Yin dynasty in 1500 B.C.E. Lecture three will cover the Zhou Conquest, establishing the "Mandate of Heaven," while the fourth will deal with Fragmentation and Social Change, including the emergence of Confucianism, Daoism, and the Hundred Schools. Lecture Five will explain in detail the first two topics, while the sixth will present the Hundred Schools.

Some of subsequent lectures: Han Dynasty, Buddhism, Tang Dynasty, Rise of the Mongols, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Golden Age, Coming of the West, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Fall of the Empire, the Chinese Communists, War & Revolution, China under Mao, China & the World in a New Century.

Coordinator: Jerry Gilmore*

* Denotes LIRA member