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Here are descriptions for the courses that were offered during the Fall 2017 semester:

BOOK CLUB First Fridays, starting Oct. 6, 11:00-12:30.  Moderators: Abbie Tom (919-933-8972, and Suzanne Haff (, 919-933-9329). For everyone who loves to read and discuss a good book. Class members in the spring, 2017 course have selected three books to be read and discussed for this fall term. The books tend to be provocative and personally relevant. A volunteer class member will serve as moderator for each monthly discussion. The three books and moderators for the fall term include: October 6: The Great Divide by Thomas Fleming with Ed Nirdlinger as moderator; November 3: My Antonia by Willa Cather with Elizabeth Wheeler as moderator; and December 1: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal with Anne Marie as moderator. Both new students and those from previous terms are welcome.

CONTROVERSIES IN THE WORLD Monday, 11:00-12:30.  Moderator: Hank Becker (932-7356, This is a seminar-type course based on book-length reading. Participants are responsible for presenting an overview, based on one week’s reading selection. The book we will read during the fall is A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (2017), by Richard Haass. For many years, Haass, President of the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations, has been a major writer and scholar on U.S. foreign policy and a frequent commentator on national news programs. NOTE: Enrollment is limited to 20 people. Through Aug. 15th, participants from the prior semester have priority for registration.

EARLY CLASSIC BRITISH LITERATURE Thursday, 11:00–12:30.  Moderator: Nancy Goudreau, (, 703-329-2933). Dr. John Sutherland (Great Courses) believes that people cannot appreciate literature without knowing the historical circum- stances, experienced by authors. Thus, in each 1⁄2 hour lecture per class, he will review classic British literary works, published from early 1600 – late 1700’s, along with justification for their place in British history. We will enhance his lectures with oral readings and more information about the authors, their works and concurrent British history. Class members will select our study topics which may include: John Donne; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Andrew Marvell; Daniel Defoe; Alexander Pope; Samuel Johnson; and John Dryden. Class interest will determine the time we spend per work/author/historical event. Stu- dents will get texts for oral reading/study from the internet and public and personal libraries. NOTE: Both new students and those from the spring 2017 term are welcome.

EPISODES FROM THE HISTORY OF JAZZ Tuesday, 9:15-10:45.  Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703-329-2933, Whether curious or hip, you may still want to learn about the history of jazz and its innovations and innovators. This course should amply suffice. Directed by Ken Burns, the 2000 PBS series of 90 minute documentaries traces jazz development. In this term, we will cover Episodes 4 – 10 … from early 1930’s ‘swing’ to establishment of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The series is loaded with: full musical excerpts; information/photos of historical/ social context; profiles of musicians/composers; and insightful comments from those who know. In order of musical era, we will play about 45 minutes from one documentary and complete its showing during our next meeting. Thus, per session, we’ll be able to spend time: expressing our reactions to lectures; adding our own info; sharing our own recordings/references; and listening to selections from our personal collections. (A fine ref- erence book to own, if you have none, is Jazz: A History of America’s Music, Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, 2005, 489 pp. Second hand in Amazon, $15.00.) NOTE: Both new students and those from summer 2017 term are welcome.

FROM MONET TO VAN GOGH: A HISTORY OF IMPRESSIONISM. Monday, 11:00–12:30.  Moderator: Jane Misch (919-918-3649, and Sharon Epstein ( . Dr. Richard Brettell of the University of Texas combines history, biography and art in a series of 24 Great Courses lectures on the Impressionist movement. Most of us are familiar with Impressionist painting, but are we aware that it was considered shocking, startling, even revolutionary in its time? Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and their fellow “Impressionists” painted during a period of cultural upheaval in Eu- rope which included the rebuilding of Paris, the rise of industrialism and the aftermath of war. We will view over 200 works of art as Dr. Brettell describes the Impressionist movement in the context of contemporary events. Jane and Sharon will show two lectures per class meeting, and class members will be encouraged to share books, experiences and opinions.

GEOLOGIC WONDERS OF THE U.S. PARKS; A GEOLOGY OF NORTH AMERICA Monday, 9:15-10:45.  Moderators: Gayle Hartis (919-933-1251, and Barbara Nagler (919-933-0059, This is a fascinating introduction to the geological forces that created the topography of land now occupied by North American national parks. Beautifully illustrated, these 36 half hour lectures from the Great Courses will take us to more than a hundred spectacular sites, guided by Ford Cochran of National Geographic Expeditions. More specifically, in addition to providing topographic in- formation about unique park features, Dr. Cochran will take us beneath their surfaces — to learn about the volatile geologic processes now at rest or in motion or soon to act. Such information can provide us with profound insights into the fragility and dynamism of our planet. Gayle and Barbara will show two lectures per meeting.

HOW THE EARTH WORKS, PART I Moderator: Rosalinde Milazzo (919-942-6716). This Great Courses series is taught by Dr. Michael E. Wysession, a world traveler, and award-winning instructor and geophysicist at Washington Univer- sity. He will introduce us to the big picture of how various natural forces worked and are still working, separately or together, to make life on planet earth possible for humans, mammals, reptiles, fish, insects and plants. These forces include: fire, climate, volcanoes, plate tectonics, salt and fresh water and time. Thus, scientists in many fields, such as, biology, physics, geology, are constantly: investigating how natural forces affect earth’s livability; and predicting what danger points exist to threaten that livability. Rosalinde will show two lectures per meeting. Tuesday, 9:15-10:45.

THE HISTORY AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE ISLAMIC GOLDEN AGE Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771- 6567, This course will inform us about major scholars and their achievements during the Islamic Golden Age in the Greater Middle East (750 – 1258). We will be introduced to major advances in literature, medicine, arts, histography, algebra, astronomy, physics and chemistry and the men who originated new fields of knowledge, e.g.: ibn Jabr (algebra), al-Khawarizmi (algorithm), al-Haytham (optics), ibn Sinna (medicine) and ibn Khaldun (sociology, histography, and poli- tical economy). Prof. Eamonn Gearson, Johns Hopkins University (and the Great Courses), will integrate several perspectives. With his engaging style and deep knowledge of the area’s history, he will provide an insightful survey of the culture and science of the Middle East at the height of a wave of innovation and discovery. This trove of knowledge and culture served as a forerunner in the developing European Renaissance, playing a critical and nurturing role. Thursday, 9:15-10:45.

HOW TO DRAW, PART II Moderator: Nancy Goudreau (703-329-2933, This is a contin- uation from the spring term, 2017. Armed with sketchbooks, ink, pencils, we will attend to lectures of David Brody, university painting / drawing professor (and Great Courses) and learn how master draftsmen developed practical methods to represent reality and abstracts and how we too can use similar techniques. By participating, we’ll become familiar with some core principles and drawing ‘grammar’: shape, composition, value, light and shadow, linear perspective, texture and color. During class, we will: *critique the usefulness of the lecture; *compare / share our efforts to accomplish the lecture goals; and *decide as a group how best to spend our time, to make progress that we can recognize. NOTE: Participants from the spring 2017 term have priority for registration, received by end of August. For others, previous enrollment in a drawing course that included study of ‘line’ / ‘proportion’ is needed. Limit of 12 students. Tuesday, 11:00–(NOTE) 12:45.

INTRODUCTION TO PALEONTOLOGY Moderators: Larry Nielsen (919-967-3572, ) and Jim Freedman (919-401-0311, New technologies have opened new doors into the 4.54 billion year history of our world. From recently discovered fossils to new theories about our ancestors, such exciting science is exploding with new game-changing information. This 24 lecture course (from the Great Courses) provides a walk back in time through earth’s history from a lifeless planet to our world of today — allowing us to explore the latest paleontological discoveries and our understanding of the history of life on earth. Produced in partnership with the Smithsonian, our guide is Dr. Stuart Sutherland, an active paleontologist and multi-award winning teacher. Discover a history more thrilling than science fiction could ever imagine. Thursday, 9:15-10:45.

MODERN AMERICAN ESSAYS Moderator: Phil Lassiter (734-309-9879, With spirit and good humor, we will discuss American essays of the 21th century from the Best American Essays, 2016. Based on our considerable life experiences, we will analyze and interpret each essay and the author’s perspectives — directly relating how the text impinges on our own lives. NOTE: Both new students and those from previous terms are welcome. Friday, 9:15-10:45.

THE MOVIE EXPERIENCE Moderator: Glenn Wrighton (919-929-3406, We’ll explore the history of the U.S. cinema industry from early silent films through classic Hollywood genres, including musicals, thrillers and westerns. We will cover the work of some of our greatest directors, such as: Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, Capra, Hawks, Hitchcock, and Altman. Every third session will feature a film viewing, associated with the lectures. The lectures, with some film clips, are included in a MIT OpenCourseWare course for undergrads, taught by Prof. David Thorburn.  Tuesday, 11:00-12:30.

MUSIC AS A MIRROR OF HISTORY Moderator: Pat De Titta (919-929-2129, This is the second of a series of 45 minute lectures (Great Courses) that incorporates excerpts of classical music. These detailed lectures offer a revelatory look at music through the lens of history. The result is a view of the remarkable interface between the events of history and a rich musical repertoire from the time of Italy’s quest for nationhood to the present. This is as much a course about history as it is about music. It reminds us that history is not only available by studying events, but also by examining many diverse forms of human expression, including great music. The course is taught by Prof. Joseph Greenberg, a longtime favorite of our students. Time will be allotted for discussion and additional information. NOTE: Both new students and those from the spring 2017 term are welcome. Wednesday, 11:00-12:30.

PERSONAL HISTORY Moderator: Bobbie Lubker (919-967-2996, Our generation has lived through major historical events, all documented by historians. But, only we can document our own personal experiences, reactions and perceptions during such dynamic times. We will support each other’s individual efforts to record in writing what we have lived through, so that our stories will not be lost to the next generation. We will encourage and aid our developing a sense of accomplishment, as we convert memories and perceptions into written stories to make our writing more engaging to readers/listeners. Thus, we’ll write, read aloud our writing, listen to all and appreciate. NOTE: Both new students and those continuing from previous terms are welcome. Wednesday, 9:15-10:45.

THE SCIENCE OF EXTREME WEATHER Moderators: Neil Stahl (919-357-0811, and Judith Barrett (919-533-6008, Everyone talks about the weather, but joining our class will help you understand it, predict it, marvel at its glory and fierceness, and protect yourself from its hazards. By watching and discus- sing 24 videos from Great Courses, featuring Professor Eric R. Snodgrass, Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, we will learn how blizzards, flash floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and such happen – and what to do if you are experiencing one. We will view two lectures per session. A more detailed description of this course can be found at Come and enjoy “the Weather” with us.  Thursday, 11:00-12:30.

THE SCIENCE OF SELF Moderator: Bisharah Libbus (919-771-6567, In this course, Prof. Lee Silver of Princeton University (and Great Courses), will review how genetics serves as the foundation of the organism and how the revolution in human genomics is shaping our understanding of human variation and personality – what goes into making a human. He will focus on tracing the far-reaching principles discovered by Austrian monk and botanist Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) – discoveries, titled Mendel’s Laws: how genes and chromosomes shed light on inheritance. Specifically, we will learn about the tools of genomics and biotechnology: *how genomics and biotechnology opened doors into understanding the function of genes; *how variation and evolution connect humans over wide spans of time; *how genetics helps to unlock brain chemistry, personality and mental disease; *how they control tissue differentiation; *how humans vary over wide spans of time; and *how evolution informs our past relations. This is your chance to gain understanding of modern genetics and how it illuminates our understanding of human variation and personality. Thursday, 11:00-12:30.

SELECTED PLAY READINGS & DISCUSSIONS Moderators: Meyer Liberman (919-417-0674, and Alan Tom (919-933-8972; We will be selecting classic plays from such playwrights as Chekhov, Shaw, Ibsen, and others. Members will read scenes, engage in discussions, and view movie renditions. NOTE: Class registration is limited to twelve. Tuesday, 11:00-12:30.


SHORT STORIES Moderators: Marcy Sacarakis (610-428-9916, and Jane Maske (919-265- 4009, Class members will discuss one story each week from the most current edition of either The Best American Short Stories or The O. Henry Prize Stories, both available in paperback at Flyleaf Books and Amazon. We will conduct lively discussions about the writing, themes, plots, characters and the story’s relevance to us. Each class ends with poetry readings, chosen by a member. NOTE: Both new and continuing students are welcome.  Wednesday, 9:15-10:45.