UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Fall 2015 Schedule

Fall study groups will meet at University Suites, 327 Aiken Street, Lowell, MA, Room #106 with the exception of November 5, morning and afternoon classes which will meet in the Talon Room at the Tsongas Center. See directions, including parking, by visiting the Lira website. Each course description includes, after the title, the name of 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. Questions may be addressed to the coordinator.

Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World
Facilitator: Bob Hanlon*
7 Mondays: 10 a.m. to Noon, Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5, 19, 26, Nov.2, 9

We are surrounded by inventions. Consider the clocks, appliances, and transportation that coordinate our days:. Or the televisions, cell phones, and social media that connect us to each other. Where did all these inventions come from? How do they work? And how do they reflect—even define—the values of our culture? Now, you can learn the remarkable stories surrounding monumental inventions such as Clocks, Automobiles, Radio ,TV, Nuclear Power and more—and how consequential these inventions were to history—in Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World. Taught by Professor W. Bernard Carlson of the University of Virginia, who is an expert on the role of innovation in history, these enlightening lectures give you a broad survey of material history. Along with recounting the famous inventions you might expect, such as the steam engine, the airplane, and the atomic bomb, this course explores a number of surprising innovations, including beer, pagodas, and the operating room.

Coordinator: Alan Kent*

European History and European Lives
Facilitator: Dorothy Bromage*
2 Mondays: 1-3 p.m., Sept. 21, 28

The most influential people who lived during the 200 most difficult years in the history of the West form the subject of this dramatically different course. They lived during the years 1715 -1914. Who were these artists, writers, scientists, and leaders in the context of history? How and why did their lives shape our time and reflect their own? Each lecture includes the social and economic scene at that time. Thirteen of the series have already been shown, and this fall, two more are scheduled. “Pius IX” is one and “The Irish Starve” is the other. (It is the one exception to covering individuals but rather chronicles a group.) Following the video lecture, important supplemental information is provided by LIRA members.

Coordinator: Jean Schott*

Shakespeare: King Lear
Presenter: Frank Carroll*
6 Mondays: 1-3 p.m., Oct. 5, 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16

In the many years we have been looking at Shakespeare's plays, we have read most of the 36 plays he is known to have written. One play, "Hamlet", we have done twice because of a desire of the class to do so. Consequently, when deciding about the next play, I mentioned doing "King Lear" again, and yes, again most agreed that it was a great idea. So, we will read "Lear" again in the fall. Despite the violence and the sadness it is generally acknowledged as one of Shakespeare's greatest creations.

There are several sources that Shakespeare could have read and used for the story of "Lear". The earliest rendition of the "Lear" story is found in the "Historia" of Geoffrey of Monmouth probably from the 12th century. The most logical source would be the telling of the "Lear" story in Holinshed's Chronicles which is a much later version. Most of the characters are "extreme depictions", to quote Otis and Needleman's "History of English Literature". We can't imagine a king in good health and spirits, resigning and dividing his kingdom among his daughters. However, Shakespeare makes it believable nevertheless. The parts to be left to each daughter depend on each one's ability to tell the king how much they love him. Well, we will find out. Those who join the group should have a copy of "King Lear" and other than that, we hope to see any and all Shakespeare lovers.

Coordinator: Barbara Page*

“Staying Alive”: Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit
Presenter: Andrea Mendes
8 Tuesdays: 10 a.m. - Noon, Sept. 22, 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10

Eight Doctoral students in Physical Therapy present this program designed to keep you healthy into your retirement years. Topics will include: Nutrition, Bone Health, Exercise, Relaxation and Stress Reduction, Meditation and Navigating the Healthcare World…..and more. Please join us!

The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience
Facilitator: Toby Hodes*
7 Tuesdays: 1-3 p.m., Sept. 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10

Human beings have spiritual brains—brains that are capable of feeling deeply connected to something greater than themselves and that can develop intensive beliefs about religion. A major theme of this course is to explore where spiritual beliefs come from. Drawing upon the latest research linking modern neuroscience and spirituality, this course will attempt to shine a light into the deepest parts of the human mind and spirit, revealing the fascinating relationship between the universal spiritual urge and the intricate workings of the human brain.

Art and Music
7 sessions usually Wednesdays: Sept.30, Oct. 8, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 18

Beginning Sept. 30 and continuing through Nov. 18, meetings will start at 10 a.m. and go until Noon, except for Oct. 8, which is the Thursday trip to the BSO Open Rehearsal. Please see the attached schedule for dates, times, topics, presenters and coordinators of the Art & Music series. The indoor classes will be held at University Suites.

Great Decisions
Facilitator: Richard Grove*
7 Thursdays: 10 a.m. - Noon, Sept. 24, Oct.1, 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12
1 Wednesday: 10 a.m. - Noon, Oct. 7 (8 sessions)
NOTE: Class on Nov. 5 will meet in the Talon Room at the Tsongas Center

Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs. The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching the DVD and meeting in a Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues facing America today. Two weekly two-hour sessions explore each topic in depth. Topics for the fall are: India Changes Course, Sectarianism in the Middle East, Syria’s Refugee Crisis, and U.S. Policy Toward Africa. Briefing books are available for $16.00.

Digital Travel Photography
Facilitator: Skip Youngberg*
3 Thursdays: 1-3 p.m., Sept. 24, Oct. 1, 15
1 Wednesday: 1-3 p.m., Oct. 7 (4 sessions)

Travel season doesn’t end in September and neither does the opportunity to take great pictures. We have a short course from National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore and plan on expanding on it with some in-class experimentation. Bring your Brownie, your Pocket Instamatic, your I Phone, your Nikon, or whatever you have and we’ll all learn together.

Coordinator: Terri Munson*

The Presidential Election 2016
Presenter: Frank Talty
4 Thursdays: 1-3 p.m., Oct. 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12
NOTE: Class on November 5 will meet in the Talon Room at the Tsongas Center

A new President will be elected in November 2016. President Obama's second term expires and we will have an open seat for the Presidency. Both of the major parties have interesting contests for their choice to be the next President. Democrats will have to decide whether it's Hillary Clinton or somebody else, while the Republicans have a long list of contenders. This mini-course will take a look at the process by which Americans choose the major party nominees and how they elect the President.

We will look at how caucuses operate, the significance of Presidential Preference Primaries, the convention delegate selection process, how conventions operate in choosing a nominee, and vice presidential nominee, and finally we will look at how the Electoral College operates and produces a President.

Coordinator: Nancy Pitkin*

Great Decisions Sampler
Facilitator: Richard Grove*
4 Fridays: 10 a.m. - Noon, Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 30, and Nov. 6

Great Decisions Sampler is an opportunity to get a taste of the Great Decisions program. Each two-hour session will cover one Great Decisions topic. The September 25 topic is Russia and the Near Abroad, Russia’s actions and policy in Crimea, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. Participants will select the other three topics to be discussed. Briefing books are available for $16.00.

Book Discussion
Facilitator: Toby Hodes*
4 Fridays: 10 a.m. - Noon, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20, Dec. 18

Do you like to read fiction or perhaps the classics, or are biographies your preference? Perhaps, you are an aficionado of non-fiction. Whatever your genre preference, guaranteed sometime during the year the book group will read and discuss an example thereof. And what is more inviting to a passionate reader than an opportunity to discuss a book - like it or hate it – with other like-minded people? Our discussions are always lively, interesting, and varied, and a new point of view is always welcome. Here are the fall selections:

  • September 18 - Truman by David McCullough (Biography)
  • October 16 - The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (Historical Fiction)
  • November 20 - The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Non Fiction)
  • December 18 - The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl (Fiction)

*Denotes a LIRA member