UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Spring 2011 Schedule

Most spring study groups will meet in the Meeting Room of the Campus Recreation Center (aka Rec Center), 100 Pawtucket Street. Directions and parking can be found on the LIRA website.

You can also get directions using our interactive google campus maps.

The Rec. Center is a controlled entry building. Please always bring your LIRA photo ID. The exception to the Rec Center is that all Art & Music Wednesday classes that are indoors will meet in the Wannalancit Building. Registration will take place at the Town Meeting, Wednesday, March 16 at 10 a.m at the Inn and Conference Center, Junior Ballroom, 2nd floor.

Each course description includes, beneath the title, the person who is presenter or facilitator. Below the paragraph is the name of the course coordinator who makes the arrangements and has responsibility for carrying out details of the class.

NOTE: Wednesday classes will meet in the Wannalancit Building, 600 Suffolk Street, Lowell in room 101A.

The Civil War and Reconstruction: The Nation's Trial by Fire

Eight Mondays 10:00 a.m. to Noon: March 21, 28, April 4, 11, 25, May 2, 9, 16

Presenter: Bob Forrant

This course examines the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. We will read about and discuss the coming of the war and how it transformed American society. We will also look at the unresolved issue of racial equality at the end of reconstruction and how this shaped the nation's history ever since. Thematically we will consider: slavery's expansion, Lincoln and emancipation, and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction. We will also carefully consider the case of Lowell in the run up to the war and in the war itself. Its contradictory position with an economy dependent on slave-produced cotton and as a hotbed of anti-slavery sentiment along with the fact that the first two Union soldiers to die in the war were from Lowell will be examined. All that, and we will have a good time! Two books are recommended for reading prior to the course:

  1. James McPherson, Abraham Lincoln, Oxford University Press, 2009. (Only hard cover, but cheap!) $12.95.
  2. Eric Foner, Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction, Knopf, 2005 (there is a paperback version).

Coordinator: Ann Dahlman*


Eight Mondays 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: March 21, 28, April 4, 11, 25, May 2, 9, 16 Presenter: Frank Carroll*

After a journey into the Historical plays of Shakespeare last year, we are going to look at and read closely, "Cymbeline," a play often called a “problem play" by some critics, although it has been looked upon by modern critics as a "Romance." "Othello," "Measure For Measure," and "The Winter’s Tale" are other plays of this type. This play is one of Shakespeare's final plays, and although it cannot be precisely dated, its first performance is recorded as being in 1611. The plot is convoluted and occasionally confusing, but we hope to succeed in unraveling its mysteries. There is even strong evidence of a collaborator in this play. In any case, we shall see for ourselves. The text is, as usual, a copy of the play, and I am going to look for a copy of the Folger Edition of "Cymbeline," which I have found to be the best of the many editions of the Bard by various publishers.

Coordinator: Ann Dahlman*


Spend your Tuesday mornings getting entertained and educated. For four weeks, Barbara Page presents a film series with background comments. This is followed by four weeks highlighting the Baroque Era of music, with selections chosen and augmented by Jeanne Gunion.


Four Tuesdays 10:00 a.m. to Noon: March 22, 29, April 5, 12

Presenter: Barbara Page*

  • March 22 Steamboat Bill, Jr., 1928, Director Charles Reisner
  • March 29 Grand Hotel, 1932, Director Edmund Keating
  • April 5 It Happened One Night, 1934, Director Frank Capra
  • April 12 To Be or Not To Be, 1942, Director Ernst Lubitsch


Four Tuesdays 10:00 a.m. to Noon: April 19, 26, May 3, 10

Presenter: Jeanne Gunion*

The class will view the Teaching Company’s DVDs on Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Cantata No. 140, Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor for Organ, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, each followed by background information and by listening to the music described on the DVD.

Coordinator: Dorothy Bromage*


Eight Tuesdays 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: March 22, 29, April 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10

Facilitator: Robert Hanlon*

This program focuses on the regions of the brain most pertinent to emotion and behavior. When are we responsible for our own actions and when are we in the grip of biological forces beyond our control? How do evolution, genetics, early experiences, and hormones affect our brains and influence our behavior? Explore how our brain, mind, body, and environment interact to influence how we behave. A prominent neurobiologist, zoologist, and MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, Professor Sapolsky is a spellbinding lecturer.

Coordinator: Mary Willis*


Eight sessions, usually Wednesday: March 23, 30, April 6, 14 (Thursday), 20, 27, May 4, 11

Beginning March 23 and continuing through May 11, meetings will start at 10:00 a.m. and go until noon except for April 14, which is the Thursday trip to the BSO Open Rehearsal.

Please see attached schedule for dates, times, topics, coordinators of the Art & Music sessions, and the locations of those not at the Campus Recreation Center.

Coordinator: Barbara Page*


Eight sessions, usually Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to Noon: March 24, 31, April 7, 13 (Wednesday), 21, 28, May 5, 12

Facilitator: Shirley Mitchell*

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: Banks, governments and debt crises, Germany's ascendancy, The Horn of Africa, and The Caucasus. Copies of the 2011 Briefing Book covering Spring and Fall semesters are available for $16. each.

Coordinator: Shirley Mitchell*


Eight sessions, usually Thursdays: 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: March 24, 31, April 7, 13 (Wednesday), 21, 28, May 5, 12

Facilitator: Alan Kent*

How high is the sky? How do soda straws work? What causes the seasons? The course opens with the fundamental concepts of meteorology. Dr. Robert Fovell builds on these concepts to develop a full understanding of large-scale weather events. He presents an intriguing look into the art of the meteorologist.

Coordinator: Steve Sussman*


Three Friday sessions, 10:00 a.m. to Noon: March 18, April 15, May 20

Facilitator: Toby Hodes*

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 spring 2011 include: March - South of Broad, fiction by Pat Conroy, April - Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, fiction by Jerome Charyn, May - Cutting for Stone, fiction by Abraham Verghese.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

*Denotes LIRA member