2021 Fall Online Courses

American Tories: Loyalists in the First Civil War

Group Leader: JOHN HODGMAN
Meets on: Mondays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/18/2021
Sessions: 5
Class Size: 20

Would you consider yourself a loyalist when the "rebels" attacked our Capitol on January 6, 2021? We will look at the story of the colonists who were loyal to the King during the Revolutionary War era, their perspectives, their roles during the War, and what ultimately happened to them. In 1765, the British Stamp Act triggered several violent mob actions in the 13 Colonies. These protests were against “taxation without representation.” Over the next decade, people in the 13 Colonies began to separate into those who joined the…

Boston Uncommon: Five Boston Tours You Haven’t Taken

Group Leader: REBECCA BROOKS
Meets on: Thursdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 10/7/2021
Sessions: 5
Class Size: 50

We know BHS members are well-schooled in Boston history. So stay comfortable in your slippers (or kick off your shoes and relax) while you venture into uncommon spaces, led by a select group of Boston By Foot docents. These experienced guides researched, authored and conducted special made-to-order tours that they now have adapted for this seminar, comprising five “Boston Uncommon” topics, translated from walking to virtual, and presented by the original authors and collaborators. They will guide you through some of the less-heralded parts of Boston and its…

Chinese Revolution – From Sun Yat-sen to Mao Zedong

Group Leader: LAWRENCE CLIFFORD
Meets on: Wednesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 10/6/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

This six-week course will begin with the Chinese Revolution of 1911 as directed by Sun Yat-sen. It will cover the Revolution’s key stages and events, including the May Fourth principles and the Whampoa Academy. We will also review and discuss the influence of the Soviet Union and its impact on the split between the Nationalists and the Chinese Communist Party. This course will also examine the differences between Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek, the impact of Japan on China, and the American effort to support China during WWII.…

Inundated: Greater Boston's Water Challenges

Group Leader: SCOTT HORSLEY
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/6/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

The course will consider six case studies involving water in metro Boston that illustrate the broad range of challenges and threats to drinking water, streams, groundwater, wetlands, and coastal waters. Each case study will present the issues/challenges and potential solutions, including both traditional engineering technologies and emerging alternative nature-based approaches. The presentations and discussions, focusing on such matters as Boston groundwater, the restoration of the Charles River, the Alewife stormwater wetland in Cambridge, Boston harbor, climate change and sea level rise, will include a blend of science, technology,…

King Solomon Shares His Wealth: Gaining Wisdom from the Bible

Group Leader: OLGA TURCOTTE
Meets on: Mondays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/18/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 20

Four of the Wisdom Books of the Bible are attributed to King Solomon, the richest and wisest of all earthly kings since the beginning of time; yet even he was not without Hamartia (a tragic flaw or error). In this course, we will read key chapters from the four Wisdom Books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom) and discuss them, with the expectation that some of Solomon’s wisdom may already be inherent in, and among us. We will also look at the Book of Job (anonymous author) in…

Modern Monetary Theory: Can We Print Our Way to Happiness?

Group Leader: CARROLL PERRY
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 10/5/2021
Sessions: 5
Class Size: 20

With the Biden administration getting ready to run huge budget deficits, our national debt will rise to levels (debt as a percentage of GDP) not seen since World War II. The pandemic, it is argued, requires massive spending to get the economy back on track. Europe will be right behind us, and Japan is already there. Is all of this spending sustainable? Can any level of taxation cover these expenses, or are we pretending, somehow, that there is a free lunch in all of this? Right in the…

Portraits of Leadership in Classic Films

Group Leader: STEPHEN DEVAUX and CHRISTINE EYRE
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/5/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 25

This will be a discussion-oriented course, spiced with lectures, film clips, readings from classic texts on leadership, and tools such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The course will examine and compare each film’s techniques and the needs and failures of various leaders and those they led. We will consider five films (all of which won Oscars): One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) Glory (1989) Twelve O’ Clock High…

Staging History: Setting History to Music

Group Leader: BRADFORD CONNER and BENJAMIN SEARS
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/5/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

Historical drama long has been a mainstay of theatre, playwrights usually bending it for their own purposes. This seminar will look at how American history has also been used by our native composers to create musical stage works, ranging from light comedy to profound dramatic operas. The colorful characters involved in the creation of the Declaration of Independence populate 1776. A pairing of Leonard Bernstein's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Steven Sondheim's Assassins looks at the White House; its occupants, their politics, and their ends. Titanic - The Musical…

The Dogs of War; Part II (Part 1 is not a prerequisite)

Group Leader: GEORGE MESZOLY
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/7/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

"I am the punishment of God...If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you."  Genghis Khan Here, on the verge of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Barbarians—rudely clad and rude of speech, untutored and unwashed—approach the last outposts of Roman civilization… Unfortunately, the Roman army itself now consists mostly of Barbarians: Italians (Romans) had stopped volunteering centuries ago. Without its alliance with the Visigoths, the nominally Roman army could not have turned back the Huns. A…

The Poetic Visions of Frost & cummings

Group Leader: LIZ CABOT
Meets on: Mondays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 10/18/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 25

Both Robert Frost and e.e. cummings had roots in New England and were contemporaries in early to mid-twentieth-century America. But what a contrast in their poetry! They saw the world through very different eyes and projected quite individual images and attitudes, not to mention differing lyric styles. Nature was important for both, but look at "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "i thank You God for most this amazing day" as examples. Frost was a traditional formalist (quatrains, sonnets, blank verse), cummings an iconoclastic experimentalist who…

Unveiling the Cosmos

Group Leader: CHARLES LAW & JESSE HAN
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/6/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

For centuries, people have looked up at the night sky and marveled at everything it holds. Space is indeed full of fascinating objects and processes – from other planets (maybe some like Earth) to black holes. Unveiling the Cosmos will tour the astronomical universe from small to large scales. This seminar will introduce students to a wide variety of astrophysical phenomena ranging from planets orbiting other stars to distant galaxies and beyond. Each class will be devoted to a specific topic, led by a new person with specific…

Venetian Splendor: Color, Light & Fantasy

Group Leader: LIANA CHENEY
Meets on: Thursdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/7/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

A rich cultural patronage flourished in The Republic of Venice (La Serenissima) because of its geographic location, topography, and eco-social-political power. Painters were enchanted by the light and color effects reflected in the lagoon and captured them with brilliant vigor in their sacred and profane paintings, transforming the vitality of the visualization into thematic fantasies. This seminar focuses the art of Venice from 1450-1550. The selected painters to be discussed are Giovanni Bellini, Carlo Crivelli, Andrea Mantegna, Giorgione, Carpaccio, Lorenzo Lotto, Tintoretto, and Veronese. Suggested Readings: For profiles…

Vermeer: The Allure of the Studio and Street

Group Leader: AMY GOLAHNY
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/6/2021
Sessions: 5
Class Size: 50

Vermeer is one of the great Dutch painters of the 17th century, best known for paintings that magically capture an atmosphere of light. This course will survey his work from his earliest history paintings to his images of men and women being sociable with music or wine, women with pearls in intimate interiors (the pearl paintings), men in their studies, and two cityscapes. Perhaps most familiar are the Milkmaid (Rijksmuseum) and the Girl with the Pearl Earring (Mauritshuis). Vermeer’s earliest works reveal his ambition to represent biblical and…

Vienna: Medicine, Psychology and Art at the Turn of the 20th Century

Group Leader: BETH & STEPHEN SANDERS
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/12/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50

This course will explore the intersection of medicine, psychology, and art at the turn of the 20th century in Vienna, the epicenter of dramatic changes in brain science and the arts. Modernism – a reaction to Enlightenment rationality and the Industrial Revolution – claimed that humans are innately irrational, driven by unconscious forces and desires. The Modernist movement called for introspection to understand the nature of these unconscious drives, and its influence was aided by advances in knowledge across a range of disciplines. We will review developments in…

Winston Churchill: A Remarkable and Varied Life

Group Leader: JOSEPH HERN
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/8/2021
Sessions: 7
Class Size: 32

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) led a long, active and varied life as a soldier, statesman, orator, journalist, author, painter – and bricklayer! Churchill entered the army in 1895 and fought in colonial wars at the nineteenth century’s close. He headed the Royal Navy at the outbreaks of the Great War in 1914 and the Second World War in 1939. Falling from grace over the Dardanelles, Churchill served in the trenches of the Western Front. Trained as a cavalry officer, he was a visionary about modern warfare: godfather of the…

“Our Depraved Political Stagnation”: The Exceptionalism of Current American Politics

Group Leader: ED QUATTLEBAUM
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/6/2021
Sessions: 4
Class Size: 16

The title of this course comes from an op-ed by Charles Blow (March, 2021) referring to Congressional inaction after one week with two more mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, but Blow’s phrase might apply to almost all national politics in the USA. Are we still an exceptional “democratic republic”? If not, is it our “antisocialism,” or “apartheid,” or even “fascism” that makes us exceptional?  A rather pessimistic outlook? Possibly. But as the writer Ward Just quipped, “One of the joys of being a pessimist is that you’re…