UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Fall 2016 Schedule

Registration took place at the Fall Convocation on Tuesday, September 13 at 10 a.m. in Cumnock Hall, 31 University Ave, Lowell. 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 facilitator/coordinator or Nancy Pitkin, Curriculum Chair.

Fall study groups will meet at the University Suites, 327 Aiken Street, Lowell, MA, Room #106 with the exception of:

  • Wednesday: October 19 Tsongas Talon Club
  • Thursday: September 29 Tsongas Talon Club, October 20 Rec Center Meeting Room and November 10 Tsongas Talon Club
  • Friday: October 21 Tsongas Talon Club

Tsongas Center, Talon Club Room, 300 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Lowell, MA
UMass Lowell Recreation Center, Meeting Room, 292 Aiken Street, Lowell, MA
The location of classes sometimes change so watch for announcements.


Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
Facilitator: Frank Carrroll*
Seven Mondays 10 a.m. - Noon:

  • September 19, 26
  • October 3, 17, 24, 31
  • November 7

Romeo and Juliet has been described as a young man's play but what young lady in all the other plays of Shakespeare can be more charming then Juliet, that wonderful and mixed up teenage girl filled with the passion of young love? We have no knowledge of anything in Shakespeare's life that might have evoked such a play. All we know is that the story originated in a book by a man named Matteo Bandello, who included a story about two youngsters named Romeo and Juliet in a book of stories he published in 1554 named Novella. The story was translated then into French, and then into English in a collection of stories by William Painter, who then published the play in a book called The Palace of Pleasure in 1554 also. The play was first printed in a Quarto in 1597 and then was included in the First Folio of 1623. Critics generally agree that the play was probably written in 1595. We assume, of course, that Shakespeare was familiar with the work of Painter.

To quote Otis and Needleman’s History of English Literature the very nature and conscious motives of Romeo and Juliet bring about their doom. Yet, one who comes to the play for the first time and is unaware of the general plot is shocked by the horrifying ending. One wonders if perhaps sadder than the deaths of Hamlet or Cordelia. Well, who can say?

Shakespeare in this play writes the first tragedy in English literature based upon romantic love. It is, however, being read for the second time in our Shakespeare class, but it was a nearly unanimous choice when someone mentioned it as a selection for the fall term. All are welcome and of course a text is necessary.

Coordinator: Terri Munson*

Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition
Facilitators: Peter Sebelius* and Bob Hanlon*
Seven Mondays: 1 - 3 p.m:

  • September 19, 26
  • October 3, 17, 24, 31
  • November 7

The 20th century brought major revolutionary changes in humankind’s understanding of the physical universe. Two revolutionary ideas: relativity and quantum theory touch the very basis of physical reality, altering our commonsense notions of space and time, cause and effect. Both topics are considered exceedingly complex; but the basic ideas behind relativity and quantum physics are, in fact, simple and comprehensible by everyone. This course presents these concepts in plain English with no mathematics so that everyone can understand them.

This course begins with a brief overview of theories of physical reality starting with Aristotle and culminating in Newtonian or the "classical" physics. Then the course highlights the inconsistencies of “classical” theory which led to Einstein's theory of special relativity, and the simple yet far-reaching insight on which it rests. The course moves on to consider Einstein's theory of general relativity and its interpretation of gravitation in terms of the curvature of space and time.

In the final lecture, the course moves from the scale of the galactic down to the scale of atomic and subatomic particles and the realm of quantum theory. Quantum theory is a vision of physical reality so at odds with our experience that even our language fails to describe the quantum world.

The Best Is Yet To Come: Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit Back by popular demand!
Presenters: UMass Lowell Students (Professor Andrea Mendes)
Eight Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - Noon:

  • September 20, 27
  • October 4, 11, 18, 25
  • November 1, 8

Doctorate of Physical Therapy students provide LIRA members with the best they have to offer in current topics in healthy aging. The doctoral students, in the third and final year of their program will create the sessions around your unique interests. The presentations are designed to be interactive, stimulating and simply marvelous!! Please join us!

Coordinator: Nancy Pitkin*

Broadway Musicals
Facilitator: Jeanne Gunion*
Four Tuesdays, 1 - 3 p.m.:

  • September 20, 27
  • October 4, 11

This course covers the 200-year evolution of American musical theater, including the minstrel era, the vaudeville era, the age of ragtime, the revue, and the book musical. Because recorded examples of music from recent Broadway musicals are readily available at stores, these are used less frequently than the older, rarer recordings, without which most listeners would have little knowledge of the sound of early musicals. The shows chosen to be discussed in this course are each important links in musical theater’s evolution.

Coordinator: Jean Schott*

America in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era
Facilitator: Marti Spalding
Four Tuesdays 1 – 3 p.m.:

  • October 18, 25
  • November 1, 8

Meet some of the important figures from America's progressive era, including Roosevelt and Carnegie. Look at the cities, technology, and progression of thought that led to a modern culture defined through the Gilded Age. See the explosion of the Suffrage movement and the battle to win the women's right to vote. This fascinating course by Holly Cross professor Edward O’Donnell will explore the massive changes that reshaped America during the Gilded Age (1865-1900) and the Progressive Era (1900–1920).

Before the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, America was a developing nation, with a largely agrarian economy; sharp divisions between North, South, and West; and virtually no role in global affairs. Yet by 1900, within an astonishing 35 years, the U.S. had emerged as the world’s greatest industrial power. During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the U.S. went from “leading by example” and maintaining an isolationist foreign policy to become a major participant in international events, showing itself as a nascent superpower in the Spanish-American War and World War I. It was a time rife with staggering excess, social unrest, and strident calls for reform.

Coordinator: Bob Hanlon*

Art and Music
Seven Wednesdays:

  • September 21, 28
  • October 5, 19 (Tsongas Talon Club Room), 26
  • November 2, 9

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*
Eight Thursdays, 10 a.m. - Noon:

  • September 22, 2
  • October 6, 20, 27
  • November 3, 10, 17

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: International Migration, Cuba and the US, UN Development Agenda and Leadership, and Korean Choices.

Briefing books for the fall are available for $10.

LIRA Members Present
Three Thursdays, 1 - 3 p.m.

  • September 22 How to Be a Presenter for a LIRA Program
    Presenter: Skip Youngberg*
    Hints and Tips on what you want to know to present a program.
  • September 29 Cuba Today (Tsongas Talon Club Room)
    Presenters: Joan* and Arnie Kerzner*
    Two of our LIRA members went to Cuba and will share their experience. This is in conjunction with the Great Decisions program offered on October 6 and 20.
  • October 6 Social Media (gulp)
    Presenters: Nancy Pitkin* and Peter Sebelius*
    Facebook, twitter etc. Easing into using these platforms – how to get started, what’s new, and stay connected if you want! We are the largest demographic users of Facebook according to some sources.
  • October 13 Edward M. Kennedy Institute
    We will visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston for a guided tour. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute offers a variety of exhibits and experiences for visitors. The exhibit halls feature technology-driven projected displays that immerse visitors in the history of the Senate. Visitors have the opportunity to become “Senators-in-Training” as they grapple with one of the big issues Senators themselves are tackling today. Tours and programs in the Institute’s to-scale representation of the U.S. Senate Chamber bring the Senate to life for visitors. Visitors can explore Senator Kennedy’s own career and commitment to public service in the Institute’s first special exhibit, “The Lion of the Senate” and in a replica of his Washington, D.C. office and Reception Room.

    The cost of the trip is: $25. Please send checks made out to LIRA, Inc. to Bob Hanlon, 255 North Road, Unit 37, Chelmsford, MA 01824 by Friday, October 1.

  • The bus will leave the Drum Hill Chelmsford Hannaford Drum Hill side parking lot at: 8:30 a.m. You may bring a bag lunch and there is a small café at the Museum. Please let us know if you will be purchasing lunch. We will return at 1 p.m. arriving back in Chelmsford by 2:30 p.m.

The Presidential Election 2016
Presenter: Professor Frank Talty
Four Thursdays 1 - 3 p.m.:

  • October 20 (Rec Center), 27
  • November 3, 10 (Tsongas Talon Club Room)

As the whole world knows, the United States will elect a new President this fall. We also know that the new President will either be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. 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 take a look back at how the Caucuses, the Presidential Preference Primaries and the National Nominating Conventions chose the two nominees.

We will then look ahead to November 8th and how the Electoral College operates and produces a President. Finally, in week 4, (two days after the election!) we will analyze the results.

Coordinator: Nancy Pitkin*

Book Discussion
Facilitator: Toby Hodes*
Four Fridays 10 a.m. - Noon:

  • September 16
  • October 21 (Tsongas Talon Club Room)
  • November 18
  • December 16

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 16 - The Red Tent, fiction by Anita Diamant
  • October 21 - Man’s Search for Meaning, non-fiction by Viktor Frankl
  • November 18 - Listen Liberal, non-fiction by Thomas Frank
  • December 16 - My Brilliant Friend, fiction by Elena Ferrante
  • January - We Are Market Basket, non-fiction by Daniel Korschun & Grant Welker
  • February - Homegoing, fiction by Yaa Gyasi
  • Dates to be determined

* Denotes LIRA Members