UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Spring 2009 Schedule

Spring study groups will usually meet in Room 223 of the Wannalancit Building, and we will make every effort to notify participants when there is a change. We thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

Registration will take place at the Town Meeting on Wednesday, March 18, in the MIL Conference Room on the first floor of the Wannalancit Building. If you wish to register in advance, please leave a message on the LIRA phone: 978-934-3135.

In the event of a storm, information will be available on radio 980 AM, WCAP. If UMass Lowell or Lowell Public Schools are closed, the classes will not be held.


Professor Robert Forrant

7 sessions, Monday, 10:00 am.– Noon March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 27, May 4, 11

A lot has been made over the last several weeks of the similarities between the current economic situation and the events which led up the collapse of the U.S. economy in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Many pundits have made comparisons between what our new president will attempt to do with what Franklin Roosevelt did once he assumed office in March, 1933. In this course we will take a careful look at the causes of the Great Depression and the variety of government measures and programs implemented in an effort to get the economy moving again,

people back to work, and restore faith in financial institutions. In addition we will take a look at whether the measures implemented actually got the nation out of the Great Depression or whether indeed it was the country's entry into the Second World War which really did the trick. In all, we will take a look at U.S. history from the early 1920s to the mid-1940s to find our answers!

The text we will be using is Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression 1920 - 1941, by Michael Parrish, Norton, 1992.


6 sessions, Monday, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 27, May 4

Shakespeare will return this spring with a reading of The Taming of the Shrew. This comedy is without a doubt one of the best known of all of the Bard's 36 plays, having been staged many times, made into more than one movie, and is one of the favorite productions of amateur theatrical groups, yet we think we will enjoy looking at the text to see what it really says. Those interested should bring their own text to class.

Coordinator: Frank Carroll*

THE BIBLE: A BIOGRAPHY by Karen Armstrong

8 sessions, Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. – Noon March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12

The Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history. Made up of sixty-six “books” written by various authors and divided into two testaments, its contents have changed over the centuries. The Bible has been transformed by translation and, through interpretation, has developed manifold meanings to various religions, denominations, and sects. In this book, Armstrong analyzes the social and political situation in which oral history turned into written scripture, how it was collected into one work, and how it became accepted as Christianity’s sacred text. We will read and discuss this seminal book in small bites over the 8 weeks.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*


(Rescheduled from January 28)

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

In September, Dorothy Bromage presented a survey of compositions in the musical form Theme and Variations. Part II became necessary due to the large number of excellent examples available, providing further evidence that many composers found theme and variations to be a fulfilling means of expression. Once again, the selections will span the Baroque Era through 20th Century compositions. Once again, the program will start with some ear training and ways that composers play around with a melody. Variations can be seen as well as heard, and this will be demonstrated in several ways. Instruments used to show composition include piano, string quartet, flute, orchestra, and even balalaika. Concluding the subject will be the most famous composition in the form.

Coordinator: Dorothy Bromage*


2 sessions, Tuesday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 p.m. April 21, 28

For our spring opera course, we have chosen LA CENERENTOLA by Gioachino Rossini which will be the Met’s high definition broadcast on May 6. This is the story of Cinderella who goes to the ball in spite of the machinations of her wicked stepsisters and, of course, wins the handsome prince. She forgives her wicked family and it all ends happily ever after. We will do it in two sessions, with the second session probably running overtime. We think you will get more out of it if we show the opera in one session. This is a happy, lively opera with a happy ending—one of opera buffo’s best.

Coordinators: Betty & Bob Jack*


8 sessions, usually Wednesday March 25, April 1, 8, 16, 22, 29, May 6, 13

Each Wednesday beginning March 25 through May 13, 2009 meetings will start at 10:00 a.m. and go until noon except for the 4th session, which is the Thursday, April 16 trip to the BSO. They are held in the Wannalancit Mill, room 223, unless printed otherwise. Please see attached schedule for times, dates and topic of all of the Art and Music sessions and the coordinators for each one.

Coordinator: Connie Lanseigne-Case*


8 sessions, Thursday, 10:00 a.m. – Noon March 26, April 2, 9, 15, 23, 30, May 7, 14

The Great Decisions studies are based on current materials supplied by the Foreign Policy Association in Washington, D.C. The following four topics will be discussed this semester: Global Food Supply, Energy and the Global Economy, Egypt in the 21st Century, and Cuba After Castro. Copies of the 2009 Briefing Book are available for $15.00 each.

Coordinator: Shirley Mitchell*


8 sessions, Thursday, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. March 26, April 2, 9, 15, 23, 30, May 7, 14

The documentary film series will continue with an interesting and eclectic selection of films with subject matter to appeal to a variety of tastes and interests. Please see attached list for the complete schedule of dates and titles.

Coordinator: Barbara Page*


7 sessions, Friday, 10:00 a.m. - Noon March 27, April 3, 10, 24, May 1, 8, 22

We will continue the China History Class this Spring. We will start with Lecture 19, the forging of Neo-Confucianism, continue through the Mongol invasion, the Ming Golden age, etc., the coming of the West, the Fall of the Empire, Mao and Communism, up to China in the World today. Several other DVDs are available that cover the history of the Great Wall, Secrets of China's First Emperor (who unified China, built the Terra Cotta Army, created a single written language, but murdered Confucian Scholars), and a recent TV presentation covering the effect on the people resulting from the building of the Three Gorges Dam. At our first meeting we can decide on fitting in these DVDs.

Coordinator: Jerry Gilmore*


4 sessions, Friday, 10:00 a.m. – Noon March 20, April 17, May 15, June TBD

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 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 spring include All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren; Free lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill), Non-fiction by David Cay Johnston; The Infidel, non-fiction by Aayan Hirsi Ali; and The Man Who Loved China, non-fiction by Simon Winchester.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

*Indicates LIRA member