Fall 2017 Course Descriptions/Registration


The Middle East: Trends and Challenges

In this series, presenters will look at evolving trends in Saudi Arabia and its relationship with other Gulf countries, and at Turkey's and Russia’s involvement in Syria. Speakers will present an overall analysis of the region, and explore individual countries, including Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. We will discuss the Republican administration’s Middle East policies and “the Trump effect” on current issues.

Tue 10:30-11:45 am  •   Sept. 26, Oct. 3, 17, 24, 31, Nov. 7, 14   •  7 sessions

Irwin Hochberg, CPA, is president of Bloom Hochberg & Co. He is chairman emeritus of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Forum and has conducted a lecture series on the Middle East at CL&L for almost two decades.

Register for: The Middle East: Trends and Challenges

What in the World is Music?

Is music a universal language?  How do your tastes, interests and discrimination form your idea of music?  This session will examine and challenge those concepts.  We will listen to a variety of audio examples and take a virtual journey around the world to ascertain the answer to these questions.  In addition, we will look at the various functions and purposes of music in media, specifically in movies and television.  How does what you hear influence your media-watching experience?  For this class, experience and training in music are not necessary.

Tue 10:30-11:45 am  •   October 10  •  1 session

Roy Magsisi has been playing the piano since he was four years old.  A math nerd, he worked in corporate retail operations for over 20 years at fashion houses like Kenneth Cole, Tom Ford and Christian Dior.  He is currently working to achieve a BS in Nursing and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, to become a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.  He works for the Roosevelt Island Youth Program, teaching under-served youth Piano, Music Appreciation and Computer Coding.

Register for: What in the World is Music

Reading and Listening to Poetry for Pleasure

This series of lectures with discussion will involve close readings of poems – classic, modern and contemporary.  Our aim is to listen to the sound poems make, discovering what makes a “successful” language performance.  In other words, we will discuss these works’ emotional truth, unity of expression, and attention-holding, pleasure-providing use of language.

Tue 1:00-2:15 pm   •   Sept. 26, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, Nov. 7, 14  •  8 sessions

Barry Wallenstein, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the City University of New York. Author of seven collections of poetry, most recently At the Surprise Hotel and Other Poems, Drastic Dislocations: New and Selected Poems and Tony’s Blues, a bilingual e-book. Barry is also an Editor of American Book Review.

Register for: Reading and Listening to Poetry for Pleasure

Recent American Short Stories

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 is a terrific anthology.  It includes writers known to many of us, like Donald Antrim, Ann Beattie, Alice Munro and Deborah Eisenberg, as well as remarkable young writers at the beginning of their careers.  We’ll read, talk about, and analyze eight to ten stories, which run the gamut from chaos in the Hamptons to crisis on a boxcar in Oklahoma.  There’s no need to bring the book to class on the first day, as I will be reading aloud a story and handing out copies.  Text:  The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 edited by Laura Furman. (CL&L students receive 10% discount at Shakespeare & Co., 939 Lexington Ave. 68-69 Sts.)

Tue 2:30-3:45 pm   •   Sept. 26, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, Nov. 7, 14,  •  8 sessions

Lisa Commager was a writer and editor for UNICEF in Kathmandu and an editor at Orbis Publishing in London. When she returned to New York, she taught literature and writing in private high schools and, for ten years, at Hunter College.

Register for: Recent American Short Stories


Words and Images: Painting(s) on the Page

Literature and painting are referred to as “sister arts” because of the many connections to be found between the two.  Words and images, the verbal and the visual, often come together in a mutually enriching relationship.  In each of the three novels we’ll read, the writer draws inspiration from a painter and a canvas, real or imagined.  We will also look at and discuss several paintings so we can better appreciate how story-telling (what we read) flows from shapes and colors (what we are asked to see). The painting is on the page.  Texts: Susan Vreeland, Girl in Hyacinth Blue; Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring; Dominic Smith, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. (CL&L students receive 10% discount at Shakespeare & Co., 939 Lexington Ave. 68-69 Sts.)

Wed 12:15-1:15 pm  •   Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15  •  8 sessions

Pilar V. Rotella, PhD in Comparative Literature, University of Chicago. Taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Saint Xavier University, University of Chicago, Sarah Lawrence College, Chapman University; continuing education at University of California-Riverside, Marymount Manhattan College and New York University.

Register for: Words and Images: Painting(s) on the Page

Towards a Better Understanding of Emotional Health

At different points in our lives, many of us, as well as the people we care about and interact with will experience emotional difficulties.  How can we recognize the difference between “normal blues” because of life circumstances and deeper depression?   The difference between “normal nervousness” and deeper anxiety?  A psychologist discusses the diagnoses and ways of finding the right resources for help.  
Wed 1:30-2:30 pm  •   Sept. 27, Oct. 4  •  2 sessions

Betsy Steinman, MSW and Ph.D. in Psychology from Yeshiva University in NY. Retired social worker; worked with refugees in the 1980’s, then in mental health with adult schizophrenics and later in private practice in NYC.

Register for: Towards a Better Understanding of Emotional Health

Education in Turmoil

For over fifteen years, since the passage of No Child Left Behind Law of 2001, the nation has been torn apart about our education system.  We will examine this law, as well as standardized tests, teacher evaluations, vouchers, school choice, charter schools, standards and more topics related to this highly charged political issue.

Wed 1:30-2:30 pm   •   Oct. 11, 18  •  2 sessions

Dianne Stillman, attorney. Practiced criminal and civil law for nearly 20 years. She served as a volunteer attorney for Hurricane Sandy victims. Extensive experience teaching law at the college and graduate levels. JD, Brooklyn Law School; M.S., Lehman College of CUNY, Teaching English in High School.

Register for: Education in Turmoil

1950s Hollywood: Change and Continuity

In an age of renewed prosperity, Hollywood movies were no longer the default entertainment option for many Americans.  As families moved toward the suburbs and TV took hold, movie-going habits changed.  This course looks at the 1950s as a decade of studio resistance and creative innovation.  From alien invasion through widescreen spectacle to a new style of film acting, we will consider and discuss the defining movies of this time.
Wed 1:30-2:30 pm  •   Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15  •  4 sessions

Robert Hensley-King has written on the intersections of film and politics. He has extensive international academic experience, including at Harvard University, the University of Edinburgh and Ghent University.  He has worked in Europe and North America as an independent filmmaker and broadcaster.

1950s Hollywood: Change and Continuity

Maps to Reality

This semester we will be looking at different ways to map reality. This will be a survey of different systems of understanding from Chinese Medicine to Astrology to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.  The world is always being divided up into pieces, into symbols, in order to understand the whole of reality.  But it is always about understanding ourselves. Class includes lecture, PowerPoint and, of course, a lively discussion with the participants.

Wed 2:45-3:45 pm   •   Sept. 27, Oct 4, 11, 18   •  4 sessions

Alan Steinfeld teaches adult education on topics devoted to creativity and perception. He hosts a cable program, “New Realities” Monday nights on WLNY, Channel 57, and is the founder of NewRealities.com, a website for body, mind and spirit.

Register for: Maps to Reality

Makers of History V

A look at some of the most dynamic people who have changed the course of history, for good or ill:  Tom Paine, Mohammed, Voltaire, and Peter the Great.  Busy with our own lives, we of necessity harbor cartoon versions of historical VIPs.  If we like them, they are good, if we dislike them, they are all bad.  These lectures show that almost all are complex characters, with good and evil traits intertwined in varying proportions.

Wed 2:30-3:45 pm   •   Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15  •  4 session

Manfred Weidhorn, Professor Emeritus of English at Yeshiva University.  He has published a dozen books and over 100 essays on such historical figures like Shakespeare, Milton, Churchill, Galileo, Napoleon, Robert E. Lee and Jackie Robinson, as well as on cultural history, and the relationship between religion and science.

Register for: Makers of History V


The “Golden Years”: Dream Come True or What Will I Do?

The best of times (freedom!) or the most confusing of times (what now?), retirement is, at very least, an interesting phase of life.  We’ll be looking at and discussing four films that depict this time from different angles:  Quartet directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Emma Thompson, About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson, Harry and Tonto with Art Carney, and Lost in America with Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty. We will also share our feelings about and experience with our own retirement.

Thu 10:30-11:45 am   •   Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16  •  8 sessions

Louise Terry, MA, Columbia University; college English instructor; Education Director, Accent on Language School.

Register for: The Golden-Years

Politics 2017

The next few months will affect the future direction of our country.  Congressional hearings, possible indictments, talk of impeachment – what will the results be?  Will Republicans continue to stand by the president?  Can the Democrats retake the House and Senate in 2018?  Who will emerge as opposition Democratic candidates for president?  What’s happening in New York State and City politics, the Middle East, Europe, China, Russia – and more.

Thu 1:00-2:15 pm   •   Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16  •  8 sessions

Lawrence Geneen, formerly Chief Operating Officer of the American Management Association and Executive Vice President of Johnson and Higgins. He is currently a risk management consultant.

Register for: Politics 2017

American Political Parties in a Changing World

Both the Republican and the Democratic parties are coalitions of diverse conflicting elements. And these coalitions are changing as America changes. The percentage of minorities in the electorate is growing, more and more people are moving to cities, industrial jobs are disappearing, income and wealth inequality is increasing, baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Will internal divisions tear the parties apart? How might they change to hold their coalitions together?

Thu 2:30-3:45 pm   •   Sept. 28  •  1 session

Bill Caspary, political science faculty, NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Ph.D., Political Science, Northwestern University. Teaching and research interests are democratic theory, education, ethics, peace and conflict resolution. Taught for 30 years at Washington University in St. Louis; worked as an educational consultant, ombudsman, and mediator. Author of Dewey on Democracy. Received the Distinguished Career Award in 2002 from the American Political Science Association.

Register for: American Political Parties in a Changing World

Current Issues in Criminal Justice

Session #1:  NYC’s drop in crime. While violent crimes remain front page tabloid news, crime is down in most places in America, particularly in New York. Robbery and murder rates have fallen to historic lows here. It’s one of the great successes our city has experienced since the 1990's. Surprisingly, there is no consensus about why this is happening, although theories abound. We'll examine trends and innovative programs taking place in our system of criminal justice that may be having an effect.  Session #2:  Jammed Up: Why do cops become criminals? Is it because of the police officers’ personal characteristics or organizational variables and the political environment? We'll delve into the culture of secrecy that breeds illicit and disreputable behavior. Fred Weinberg will draw on his 45 years working for the NYS criminal justice system that involved participating in highly sensitive investigations of alleged corruption.

Thu 2:30-3:45 pm   •   Oct. 5, 12   •  2 sessions

Fred Weinberg worked for 45 years for the NYS Division of Parole, NYS Department of Correctional Services, Kings County District Attorney, Vera Institute of Justice, other agencies. Author, Social Workers with Guns, self-published account of his experience with NY, NJ parole agencies. B.A. NYU, graduate of F.B.I. National Academy.

Register for: Current Issues in Criminal Justice

American Ideals in Troubled Times

Most Americans today, regardless of their political affiliation, are concerned about the high level of distrust and polarization in our society.  Do we have the moral, spiritual, and institutional resources we need to address our troubles and to restore our country to political health?  In this course, we will consider this question together, as well as the nature and sources of our political ideals, the conflicts and gaps between these ideals and reality, and the prospects for our future.  Our readings will include the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and short selections from the writings of great American political thinkers, such as Abraham Lincoln, Henry David Thoreau; Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; immigrant literature; and American fiction.  (Students will be given the readings.)

Thu 2:30-3:45 pm   •   Oct. 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16  •  5 sessions

Sandy Kessler, Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston College.  Taught political theory and American political thought at North Carolina State University for 41 years; taught in North Carolina’s State’s OLLI (Lifelong Learning) program for the past five years; has written a book on Tocqueville's understanding of religion and democracy, edited an abridged version of Tocqueville's Democracy in America, co-edited a source book entitled American Debates on Sexual Equality, and has written numerous articles on the subject of religion and modern political thought.

Register for: American Ideals in Troubled Times

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