2019 Fall Courses

A History of Privacy and Security Via Codes and Ciphers

Group Leader: GORDEN PRICHETT
Meets on: Tuesdays 10 a.m. - noon
Starting: 10/8/2019
Exceptions: none
Location: Prescott House
55 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

Cryptography, the art of creating codes and ciphers, and cryptanalysis, the science of breaking codes and ciphers have battled one another for centuries. We will examine the basic concepts and components of effective secure communication schemes and discuss historical events in both war and peace where secret writing played a major role. Examples will include the enigma machine and how it was finally broken, and contemporary encryption systems used today on the internet. The course will include a primer on some of the ingenious applications of simple mathematics…

Baseball and American Culture

Group Leader: JIM LABRAICO
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Starting: 10/7/2019
Exceptions: 10/14/2019, 11/11/19
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

The histories of baseball and our country are inextricably linked. Are many of the changes in American culture reflected first in baseball or does baseball mirror the changes? Noted historian Jacques Barzun stated, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball...” This course will cover the societal and cultural aspects of baseball, and look at the game as seen in art, movies, literature, and pop culture. Other aspects of the game to be explored include breaking the color line and the post-WWII…

Dickinsonian Difference: The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Group Leader: MARTIN GREENUP
Meets on: Thursdays 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Starting: 10/3/2019
Exceptions: none
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

Regarded as the most original woman poet ever by the literary critic Harold Bloom, Emily Dickinson has mesmerized generations of readers since she was first published, posthumously, in 1890. During her lifetime, however, she did not publish her almost 1,800 poems and was largely unknown as a poet beyond a close circle of family and friends. One friend was the Atlantic Monthly writer Thomas Wentworth Higginson with whom she corresponded for over 20 years. In her first letter to him, she asked: “Are you too deeply occupied to…

Don’t Be Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Group Leader: LIZ CABOT
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Starting: 10/7/2019
Exceptions: 10/14/2019
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

Many people read To the Lighthouse when they’re too young to fully appreciate it. In this novel, Woolf memorializes her parents and siblings, and it’s full of richness for mature readers about a long marriage, friendship, death, memory, and what art can offer solace and coherence. Another obstacle to Woolfian enjoyment for readers is her innovative style, her attempt to capture the stream of consciousness and fragmentation of our thinking and feeling that James Joyce introduced. I hope to have you see how wonderfully she handles this. Mrs.…

Elephants in the Alps: Livy’s Story of Hannibal’s Invasion of Italy

Group Leader: LEE BEHNKE
Meets on: Fridays 10 a.m. - noon
Starting: 10/4/2019
Exceptions: none
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

The tale of the second Punic War and Hannibal’s brilliant leadership has fired the imagination of composers, scholars, and historians for two thousand years. Still studied at military academies for tactical strategy, the exploits of this young Carthaginian general inspired both the creation of the Roman navy and Rome’s eventual conquest of the western Mediterranean: Sicily, Spain and finally Carthage itself. Livy’s dramatic account includes dialog as well as intimate details of Hannibal’s devotion to his family, loyalty to his country, and his astonishing tactics. The tale also…

Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Islam

Group Leader: OLGA DAVIDSON
Meets on: Mondays 10 a.m. - noon
Starting: 10/7/2019
Exceptions: 10/14/2019
Location: King's Chapel Parish House
64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

In this seminar, we will review Islam overall as a culture — a way of life, not simply a religion. The approach to such a culture, in all its variations, will be not only historical but also comparative: how does Islam as a way of life compare with other cultures, whether they be western or eastern. Each week’s seminar will begin with a relevant reading of primary or secondary sources, circulated via e-mail prior to class and never more than two pages in length. Topics include: ● Islamic…

From Textile Mills to AI and Life Sciences: Massachusetts’ Economic Revolution

Group Leader: JOHN F. HODGMAN
Meets on: Thursdays 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Starting: 10/3/2019
Exceptions: none
Location: The Engineering Center
1 Walnut Street, Boston, MA 02108 | Google Map

By the late 1960s and early 1970s Massachusetts was an economic backwater. Long past the booming textile and industrial trade era, the future seemed uncertain, even bleak. Do you remember the gas lines of the early 1970s and the flight of manufacturing jobs to the South? Compare these memories with the remarkable vigor and optimism of today’s innovation economy. How did we get here and what may happen in the future? Over six sessions we will review how major technological innovations were developed, commercialized, and financed. We will…

Gardens and Villas of Italy: Private Spaces and Public Places

Group Leader: BETH SANDERS
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Starting: 10/2/2019
Exceptions: 10/9/2019, 10/23/2019
Location: The Engineering Center
1 Walnut Street, Boston, MA 02108 |

From the horticultural tradition that Lucullus brought to Rome with projects on the Pincian Hill, shocking and amazing his contemporaries in their magnitude, to the elaborate development of gardens in Pompeii and Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, the wealthiest Romans built extensive villa gardens with water features, including fountains and shaded arcades. Vitruvius wrote the oldest manual of design, which some still consider essential to landscape construction and composition. In the Middle Ages, monasteries across Italy created horti conclusi or secluded gardens. The Italian Renaissance inspired a revolution in…

Haruki Murakami, Between Two Worlds

Group Leader: ANDREA GARGIULO
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Starting: 10/8/2019
Exceptions: none
Location: Prescott House
55 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 |

Haruki Murakami’s interweaving of quotidian detail, philosophical thought, comic irony, and mind-bending story lines has made him Japan’s revered author of the literary psychological quest. His characters — introspective, witty, intellectually engaged — live thoroughly unremarkable lives in late 20th century Japan until they insidiously find themselves operating in a challenging territory between the real and supernatural worlds. Kafka on the Shore (2002) follows a teenager on an existential search for he knows not what and a kind, elderly man who enjoys good conversation with cats who talk.…

House and Garden: Private and Public A Closer Look at Where We Live

Group Leader: BARBARA W. MOORE
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Starting: 10/15/2019
Exceptions: none
Location: Prescott House
55 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 |

This seminar concentrates on the Beacon Hill neighborhood. We will identify the historic district and talk about our rich and sometimes amusing traditions. We will examine homes, public buildings, and institutions. We will look the individuals who built these houses, their construction, and how the buildings have been used through the years. We will learn about some of the interesting people who have inhabited them: important artists, government officials, leading business leaders, jurists, and national leaders. We may also go outside to look at back alleys and backyards,…

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