Winter 2022
Tuesday, January 11 - Thursday, Marchr 3, 2022

Virtual Learning

Our new reality now includes the wonderful Zoom classes that allow us to see each other while maintaining distance and keeping safe. Based on our success to date, we may continue to offer some Zoom classes when our normal in-person meetings resume.

We definitely look forward to the joy of learning and socializing together again face to face.


Tuesday 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

*Lesser Known Capital Cities of the World

Let’s look at Capitals of the World. Not only those that are famous with lots of cultural history, artifacts, architecture, etc., but maybe those smaller ones that don’t get much attention, yet have wonderful histories and stories to tell. Maybe they have a special festival, or a tradition that piques your curiosity.  There are so many choices new and old.  We’re ready to appreciate them.

The Victorian Era in Great Britain

During the long reign of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901), Britain was the dominant global power. The products of her industries supplied the world and her navy supported an empire upon which the sun never set. You are invited to immerse yourself in Victoria’s era. Tell us about her factories and her slums,   her political reforms, her military adventures, social mores, her great men and women in science, medicine, social betterment, or the arts. Or report on some aspect of the Queen’s world—her life with Albert or her widowhood, her errant children or her castles. Tell us about her navy, her universities or one of her parliamentary greats, like Palmerston, Disraeli or Gladstone.

Tuesday 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

*Great Trials of History – Part 2

Throughout history mankind has sought to address transgressions against society, governments or religious institutions by causing the accused to stand trial and be judged by the legal authorities of the day.  An analysis of some of the great trials of history provides insights to critical issues we still talk about today – freedom of speech, the death penalty, religious freedom, what constitutes “justice”, etc.   We will study some of these trials and discuss the reason for the trial, the political and social climate in which they were held, the outcome of the trial and the aftermath.   Was justice done for the accused?  For society?  Presentations may cover political or criminal trials.  Some examples:  The trial of Socrates, the Lincoln assassination conspiracy trial, the trial of Lizzie Borden, the Nuremburg trials – and many more.  This topic provides much opportunity for fascinating discussions.  Do justice systems really provide ”justice”?   What do these trials teach us about ourselves and our perception of justice?  What sort of historical impact did they have? 

Cyber: the Good, the Bad, the Amazing 

We are in the midst of a technological revolution—some of us embracing it, some just putting up with it, but all of us expressing deep concerns about its implications.  Computers, artificial intelligence, facial recognition technology, cyber warfare, drones, medical and environmental interventions, virtual assistants (like Alexa and Google Home), automation that alters the nature of work —are changing our lives. Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon have monetized our personal information as they strive for market-dominance.  But,   at the same time Wikipedia has created a worldwide platform for the dissemination of knowledge. I invite you to present any topic from this emerging field that engages your interest.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

*Discontinued Nostalgic Items

They can be cars:  Edsel, DeSoto, Rambler, Studebaker, etc.  Products:  Ipana toothpaste, encyclopedias, Kodak film, car ashtrays, phone booth, phone books, Geritol, pagers, etc. Pick one, two or as many as you like to fit the time frame.  Give a bit of history and why it is no longer produced.

Wednesday 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 1

Because of the length of this book, it will be offered in two sessions. We will also be reading The Grand Inquisitor (124 pages). The Brothers Karamazov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, its social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.  We will use the award-winning translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which remains true to the verbal inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose. ISBN-13: ‎978-0374528379  New Paperback; $18.18

Washington: A Life. By Ron Chernow. 

We’ve recently studied Jefferson, Hamilton and Adams. Now, it’s time to study   Washington, who mentored or influenced each of them. Chernow’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, by the same author who wrote Alexander Hamilton, has received excellent reviews from the vast majority of readers, and is a fitting capstone to a study of our founding fathers. There are 19 copies available at Los Angeles Public Library.

ISBN-13: 978-0143

Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Rock Legends

Since the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the mid-1950, Rock Legends have emerged in every decade. The may have been individual artists (e.g. Elvis Presley, Jimi   Hendrix) groups like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Pick your favorite and tell us about them: the early years, band(s), solo career (if any), high points, why should we care about them, controversies, accomplishments, future plans or circumstances surrounding their death. If you need more help in choosing an individual or group to profile, you may want to look at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame list of inductees:

Outstanding Films Based on Great American Fiction

This will be a movie class. Each movie must be based on a highly regarded American novel. The combination of novel and film should lead to lively and interesting question and answer sessions like   Which is better the film or the book?  Why?  How closely did the film relate to the book?    Any Oscar nominations or literary awards?   Examples include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey; Fried Green Tomatoes – Fannie Flagg; Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams; The Cider House Rules – John Irving; Of Mice and Men– John Steinbeck; For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway; The Godfather – Mario Puzo; The Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk.

Thursday 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

The Soul of America: the Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham

We will read and discuss assigned chapters in the Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America: the Battle for Our Better Angels, 272 pages of reading. Meacham helps us understand our present division in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear. Our current climate of partisan fury in the United States is not new. He claims that Americans have come through such divisive darkness before and shows how we can prevail today. He explores contentious periods and how presidents and citizens came together to defeat the forces of anger, intolerance, and extremism. He describes surprising actions by Lincoln and other presidents, and how they reduced American divisiveness during various periods in history, such as Reconstruction, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, the anti-Communist witch hunts led by -Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. There are 51 copies in the Los Angeles Public Library.  ISBN-13 ‏ 978-0399589829  New Paperback: $10.88


Cave Art

The most famous Paleolithic cave painting sites are found in Europe; almost every continent has cave paintings dating back to between 40,000 and 9,000 BCE.  Scientific research has come to consensus on many questions about these amazing paintings:  when they were made, how they were made, what were the people like who made them?  What remains controversial is the question of WHY they were made, what do they mean?  What can these images teach us about the origins of religion, the birth of human creativity, or just what it means to be human?  We will look at the diverse images of such caves as Chauvet and Lescaux and attempt to understand them from the perspectives of art, archeology, and even neurology.