OLLI Courses - Spring Semester 2017

We are pleased to present these descriptions of our spring semester courses, arranged by subject area. (Note: These categories recognize the predominant discipline, but many of these courses are interdisciplinary in their focus.)

All courses meet for 8 weeks unless otherwise noted in the description. An overview of class meeting times can be found here. All courses meet at OLLI’s location in the M2 Building, 301 North Neil Street (Suite 201), downtown Champaign.

Browse courses by subject




The History of Photography
Craig McMonigal
Tuesday, 3:30-5:00; January 24 through March 14

This course will cover the history of photography from its inception to contemporary work. Examples of major genres, movements, and technical developments in photography will be discussed and examples of historical and contemporary images will be shown. All aspects of photography and its applications and techniques will be presented, with an emphasis on art photography. Topics include the earliest examples of photography, travel and documentary photography, early portraiture, early women photographers, color and Polaroid photography, and war photography.

Instructor: Craig McMonigal received his BFA from Ohio University, and his MFA from the University of Illinois. Craig worked for the University of Illinois, and taught at Parkland College, retiring in 2015 after receiving an award as a Community College Outstanding Faculty for the state of Illinois. His work is included in the collections of several museums. Craig has curated more than a dozen photography and art exhibitions. He taught traditional and digital photography, Studio Lighting, and the History of Photography at Parkland College. This is his first OLLI course.


Musings on Contemporary Art: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Rosalyn Schwartz
Thursday, 11:00-12:30; January 26 through February 16 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester.

This course will revolve around a series of presentations on contemporary art, beginning with figurative and abstract painting and moving on to sculpture, installation, and collage. By analyzing each work initially in terms of its visual elements, i.e., color, composition, scale, and varieties of materials and techniques, the instructor will discuss the relationship between the subject matter, form, and content. To quote film critic Roger Ebert from an interview by film director Martin Scorsese: “Subject matter is neutral. Film (art) is not about the subject, it’s about how it’s about the subject.” While this will not be a traditional art history course, we will discuss some obvious and not so obvious correlations to previous art from the 20th century. An earlier version of this course was offered in 2014, and this updated class is suitable for both new and returning students.

Instructor: Professor Emerita of Art Rosalyn Schwartz taught painting and drawing for twenty years at the University of Illinois. In May 2008, Ms. Schwartz chose to take an early retirement so that she could devote herself full-time to working in her studio. She is the recipient of a number of prestigious grants including a Bush Foundation Fellowship, a McKnight Foundation Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. In 2010 she had a mid-career survey exhibition of her paintings at Gallery 210 on the campus of University of Missouri-St. Louis. In 2013 she had a solo exhibition at the McNay Museum of Art in San Antonio, Texas titled “Rosalyn Schwartz: A Brief History of Seduction” and in 2014 her work was included in a group exhibition titled “Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting.” A catalogue was published for this exhibition with essays by noted art critics Lilly Wei and Stephen Westfall. Her OLLI courses on contemporary art have received strong evaluations for her insightful presentations and well-chosen examples.





Morocco at the Crossroads
Janice Jayes
Tuesday, 11:00-12:30; January 24 through March 14

Morocco has been a crossroads between Africa, Europe, and the Arab world for centuries and today retains a unique role at the center of debates over climate change, migration, energy resources, and cultural contacts. This class will begin by examining Roman, Arab, and French colonizations of Morocco, and how each drew Morocco in to new cultural and geographic relations in the region.  More recently the Kingdom of Morocco has navigated the Cold War, the War on Terror, and the Arab Spring, and faces new challenges from trafficking networks in the Atlantic.  Examining the history of Morocco challenges the separations Westerners frequently draw between world regions and provides a fascinating way to examine contact across time. The class will make extensive use of visual evidence (in art, architecture, and landscapes) of this diverse cultural heritage and provide short readings on the historic and contemporary themes.

Instructor: Janice Jayes, Ph.D., taught politics and history at Al Akhawayn in Morocco in 2008-2009 before moving to Champaign. She teaches Middle Eastern History at Illinois State University. She earned her Ph.D. in History (with a specialization in U.S. foreign relations) from The American University, and her M.S. in International Relations from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She was a Fulbright Teaching Scholar at the American University of Cairo in Egypt. She is interested in contemporary foreign relations and has worked in Latvia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and Egypt. Her OLLI courses on a wide variety of historical and contemporary topics have been among the best-received offerings of recent years. One student wrote of her course on the Syria conflict, “Beyond excellent. Janice did not try to make issues simple. Rather, she kept the complexity but helped us understand it and we learned ways to interpret news and events.”


Spies! Intelligence, Counter-Intelligence, and Covert Operations in the Modern World
Richard Tempest                    
Thursday, 1:30-3:00; January 26 through March 16

This course will look at spymasters and secret agents of the past and present in a broad political, military, and cultural context, with emphasis on famous figures such as Aldrich Ames, a CIA officer recruited by the KGB, and Anna Chapman, the Russian agent deported from the United States in 2010. Also examined will be the reasons why intelligence gathering is an indispensable function of the 21st century state, whether democratic or dictatorial; the international struggle against jihadism; China’s security agencies; and Putin’s Russia as the first country in history to be ruled by former and actual spies.

Instructor: Richard Tempest is an Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois. Of British-Bulgarian parentage, he spent his childhood in Moscow, where his parents worked as foreign journalists, and holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. He is a former director of the Russian and Eurasian Center at Illinois. Tempest’s interests include Russian history and culture, the political science of the body, and popular culture and science fiction. He is the author of several books as well as a novel, Golden Bone (2005), which he wrote in Russian. It tells the story of an American professor who travels to Putin’s Russia, discovers he is descended from Catherine the Great, though on the wrong side of the blanket, and decides to crown himself tsar. He has just completed a book on the fictional works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and is researching a monograph on the politics of charisma in the 21st century. His numerous OLLI courses have received exuberant reviews for the depth and breadth of knowledge included in the presentations.




Celebrating Short Films
Tom Neufer Emswiler
Tuesday, 1:30-3:00; January 24 through March 14

We have a great treasury of short films now available to us. These films, like short stories, often pack a great deal into just a few minutes. We will view three or four short films each week and talk about them. They will represent everything from Academy Award winners to student productions. They will include films from many countries representing a wide variety of styles from animation to live action. They will include drama, documentary, musicals, and poetry. Some will be funny, others will be inspirational, and still others will be philosophical or dramatic. This course will feature films that have not been shown in the instructor’s previous courses, making this ideal for both new and returning students with an interest in short film.

Instructor: Tom Neufer Emswiler has taught two similar film classes at OLLI, along with many other classes on a variety of topics. He has been a student of film all his life. As a campus minister at Illinois State University he received two national grants in the area of film. He was chosen to go to Boulder, Colorado to participate in a DVD in which he discussed films of spiritual significance with producer/director/author Stephen Simon. He has a collection of about 550 short films. His past OLLI courses have received enthusiastic reviews for his extensive preparations and carefully selected films.


A Film Critic Presents Unsung and Forgotten Cinematic Treasures
Chuck Koplinski
NEW SCHEDULE – This course now meets on Tuesday, 5:30-8:30; January 24 through March 14

Film critic Chuck Koplinski will present eight different movies that surprised him when he first saw them and yielded greater meaning upon subsequent viewings. The hope and intent of this course is to create a sense of discovery for those who see these films for the first time and an opportunity to reevaluate them for those who’ve seen them before. These are features he often recommends to others in an effort to spread the word about these films, which sometime get lost in the shuffle of the many movie releases that inundate viewers. Many of these have been taken for granted or simply weren’t given a chance due to viewers’ misconceptions about the feature and those involved with it. Background on the players and the production of the movies will be provided before they are screened, and a post-film discussion will examine of the subtext of these stories and look at the impact of these works. The movies stretch from 1923 to 2013 and include Our Hospitality (1923), It’s a Gift (1934), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Winchester ’73 (1950), Once (2007), Dan in Real Life (2007), and Ida (2013).

Instructor: Chuck Koplinski has been a film critic for over 20 years, writing for various independent newspapers in the community.  He currently reviews films for the News-Gazette, the Illinois Times, WCIA-TV and MIX 94.5 FM.  A member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association, he’s an annual presenter at the Embarras Valley Film Festival as well as a frequent collaborator with the American History Teachers Collaborative. This is his eighth offering at OLLI, and students regularly hail his excellent film selections and informative introductions.


The History of the Broadway Musical            
Christine Catanzarite
Friday, 10:00-12:00 (note: this class meets for 2 hours); January 27 through March 17

This course will trace the history and evolution of the Broadway musical - from its origins in the late 19th century through landmark productions from Show Boat and Oklahoma! to West Side Story and Hamilton. This uniquely American art form has a rich history that encompasses theatrical and musical precedents, the contributions of immigrants and minorities, the interplay between Broadway and Hollywood, and the social and cultural history of America in the 20th century. The first six sessions of the course will feature screenings of the 6-part PBS series "Broadway: The American Musical" (2004), richly illustrated with rare performance footage and interviews with Broadway's pioneers and legends - along with additional materials and in-class discussions. The last two class sessions will examine Broadway since 2004, with numerous clips of recent performances and a closer look at new developments, including the revolutionary success of Hamilton.
"Broadway: The American Musical" was produced with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The sixth episode of the series was shown in June 2016 as part of OLLI's inaugural NEH Documentary Film Festival. This course is presented in conjunction with OLLI at Illinois’ ongoing partnership with the NEH.

Instructor: Christine Catanzarite received her Ph.D. in Popular Culture and American Culture Studies in 1992, and has been a professor of film studies, theater, and popular culture at the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, and Bowling Green State University. She has lectured and written extensively on topics related to the musical on stage and screen, the development of popular genres, the history of the Hollywood studio system, and popular entertainments and rituals. She taught her first of several OLLI courses in 2010 and has been the Director of OLLI at Illinois since January 2012.




1866: Germany’s Civil War
Fred Christensen
Wednesday, 1:30-3:00; January 25 through March 15

In the 1860s both the United States and Germany settled questions of national unity through “blood and iron.” This class will examine the conflict in central Europe in the summer of 1866 – the German Civil War, also called the Austro-Prussian or the Seven Weeks War.  This was the decisive event that determined the nature and boundaries of a unified Germany for the next century, for better or for worse. Like our Civil War, this was a war between the states, a war between north and south (more or less), a war to determine the nature of the union, and a deeply tragic “brothers’ war.” Unlike ours, this was resolved in a single great campaign, fought by huge professional standing armies and culminating in the battle of Königgrätz, three times larger than Gettysburg and far more decisive. In this class, comparisons between the German and American civil wars will be made when appropriate.

Instructor: Fred Christensen is a former history instructor at the University of Kentucky and assistant professor of military science at the University of Illinois.  He teaches noncredit classes for OLLI, Parkland College, and other venues, in five areas of history and archaeology: Britain, Germany, early America, Israel/the Holy Land, and military history in general.  His OLLI courses have received strong evaluations, with one representative review noting his most recent course’s “combination of historical clarity and visual vividness.”  This is his 18th OLLI course.

Archaeology, Science, and the Bible
Sarah Wisseman
Monday, 9:00-10:30; January 23 through February 13 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester. Another course, “The Beauty of the Brain: Structural Foundations of Neuroscience,” taught by Gregory Stanton, will meet in this time slot during the second half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

The clash between religion and science is especially vivid when we try to recreate the world of the Bible and the ancient Middle East. This 4-week class will sample key controversies in biblical archaeology and how scholars deal with conflicting evidence. Was there a Great Deluge and a parting of the Red Sea? Did Joshua knock down the walls of Jericho? Where did the Israelites really come from? Could the Shroud of Turin be authentic? These and other questions will be explored using biblical and non-biblical literary sources, ancient art, and physical data from archaeology, geology, chemistry, and materials science.

Instructor: Sarah Wisseman, Ph.D., is the retired Director of the U. of I. Program on Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials (Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Prairie Research Institute). She received her degrees in Anthropology (Harvard University) and Classical and Near Eastern archaeology (Bryn Mawr College) after spending two years in Israel studying Biblical archaeology. Her primary research areas are the science of Egyptian mummies, ceramic technology, experimental archaeology, and archaeometry. Sarah has taught numerous, well-received classes at OLLI – including an earlier version of this course that was one of the highest-enrolled and best reviewed courses OLLI has ever offered. She also writes archaeological mysteries.


A History of the World in Eight Maps
Sharon Michalove
Wednesday, 11:00-12:30; January 25 through March 15

Maps are seen in many ways: as a guide to getting us from one place to another, as a representation of some aspect of our world, as a graphic explanation of some point of view. Frequently they are also a form of art. In this class, we will look at eight important world maps from 1154 to 1793 as ways of understanding the mapmakers’ view of some aspect of their world and enhancing our understanding of various facets of world history. We will look at how maps were constructed and used, how they changed over time, and how they represented thoughts about the world rather than an objective reality. Lectures will be based on Jerry Brotton's A History of the World in 12 Maps, and we will look at eight of his topics in depth over the course of the semester: Exchange, Faith, Empire, Discovery, Globalization, Toleration, and Nation.

Instructor: Sharon Michalove holds a Master's degree in history and a Ph.D. in history of education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is retired from the History Department and is an adjunct assistant professor in the Program in Medieval Studies. She has taught a variety of successful OLLI courses and facilitated numerous OLLI study groups. Her main focus is late medieval and early modern Europe.



England Encounters “Abroad” in Novels, Films, and TV
John Frayne
Friday, 1:30-4:30; January 27 through March 17

The “Brexit” decision for Great Britain to leave the European Union has thrown into high relief the perennial love/hate relationship of the English with “foreign” countries. The world abounds in paradoxes. Set on islands, separate from Europe, the peoples of the British Isles took to the sea, and acquired, largely through trade, a world-wide empire. One might expect that the British in their colonial adventures might have become cosmopolitan in their attitudes. Some British did, and some went “native” as T.E. Lawrence did, but as Agatha Christie’s Poirot discovered, the word “foreign” could be a very loaded weapon. The comic and tragic results of British encounters with the foreign world are writ large in British literature and in films and TV adaptations of literary sources. This course will examine cross-cultural encounters as far away as India and as close as Ireland, with Italy in between. We will watch materials from A Room with a View and Lord Jim to A Passage to India and Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes.

Instructor: John Frayne was from 1965 to 1997 Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Film Studies at the U. of I., and is now an Emeritus Professor. He specialized in Modern British Literature and Film Studies. From 1985 to present, he has been radio host on Saturdays (formerly also on Sundays) at radio station WILL-FM, where he hosts “Classics of the Phonograph,” and Opera Broadcasts. Since 2000, he has been classical music critic for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. In recent years, he has volunteered at the Champaign Public Library FriendShop, serving on the Board and the FriendShop committee. Students have long enjoyed his OLLI courses, noting the extensive preparations and well-chosen materials he brings to the classroom.


Inside Poetry
James T. McGowan
Monday, 11:00-12:30; January 23 through March 13

While poetry, especially modern poetry, can seem inaccessible to many readers, by applying what Robert Frost termed “technical tricks,” we will explore the poetic constructions of such noted poets as Elizabeth Bishop, Richard Hugo, Anne Sexton, Al Young, Richard Eberhart, Fred Chappell, Charles Bukowski, and many others. By delving into the forms that a poem can take, we will understand that how a poem means is a considerably more satisfying reading experience than merely discerning what a poem means.

Instructor: After receiving an M.A. in English at the University of Arkansas, with an emphasis in creative writing, James McGowan left academia to open a restaurant in Chattanooga, TN.  Subsequent to discovering how difficult it is to be an owner/operator of a stand-alone restaurant, he rushed back into academic life, becoming a Professor of English at Parkland College for 33 years.  His short fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines, among them The North American Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Alligator Juniper, The Ledge, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and White Eagle Coffee Store Press. This is his first OLLI course.


Rare Book Theft, Crime, and Punishment
Travis McDade
Tuesday, 1:30-3:00; January 24 through March 14
This course was originally scheduled to be offered in fall 2016, and we are pleased to present it this semester.

In the early afternoon of January 9th, 1931, an itinerant man from Pinetown, North Carolina walked up the long steps to the New York Public Library. His plan was to get warm, then request from the library’s rare book collection a few of its treasures. But on this day, these books wouldn’t be returning to the stacks. This is one episode from the story of a gang of a book thieves looting Depression-era east coast libraries and selling these wares in Manhattan. This course will expose the arc of book crime in America, from its colorful past through the current state of the crime and its potentially tricky legal ramifications. This discussion-based class will be supplemented with short readings and legal briefs that illuminate the crime of book theft.

Instructor: Travis McDade is currently the Interim Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Associate Professor of Library Administration at the University of Illinois, and has served as Curator of Law Rare Books. He has been studying rare book crimes for more than a decade, and teaching a class on the subject since 2008. He also continues primary-level research of crimes against printed and written cultural heritage, sifting through court documents, newspapers articles, and archival material in the service of writing other books and articles. He is the author of Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Ended It (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Disappearing Ink: The Insider, the FBI, and the Looting of the Kenyon College Library (2015), in addition to numerous articles and book chapters. An earlier version of this course was offered at OLLI in spring 2014, with excellent reviews.



Great Books of Journalism: A Global Perspective
Kate McQueen
Thursday, 3:30-5:00; January 26 through March 16

In the 1960s, writers like Truman Capote and Joan Didion gained widespread attention for combining techniques of fiction with journalistic methods of fact-gathering. The popularity of this "new" journalism carved out a place for reported texts in the literary canon, and marked "literary journalism" as a predominantly American cultural product. All that changed in 2015, when Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexiévich won the Nobel Prize in Literature. This course builds on the Swedish Academy's acknowledgment of journalism as both a literary and an international practice. We will explore four fascinating, highly acclaimed books of journalism, reading excerpts from each of them and discussing the ways writers in different countries have harnessed the literary in service of fact.

Instructor: Kate McQueen is a literary journalism scholar. She holds a doctorate in German Studies from Stanford University, where she specialized in Central European literary and press history. A recipient of both teaching and journalism Fulbright Awards, she is also a literary journalist-in-training, currently working on an M.S. in Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before coming to the U. of I., she worked as a writer, editor, and translator in Berlin, Germany. This is her first OLLI course.

How to Read a Newspaper
John Palen
Tuesday, 9:00-10:30; January 24 through March 14

This course provides a user’s guide designed to increase understanding of journalism: What it is, what it can and cannot provide to its audience and community, its legal and professional contexts, and the dynamics that help make it a flawed but useful tool in a democratic society. The course will cover such issues as professional standards and constraints, bias, objectivity, freedom of expression, the watchdog role, advertising and community pressures, and current trends. Examples will be drawn from the instructor’s 45-year career as a newspaper reporter, editor, and journalism professor.

Instructor: John Palen retired to Urbana after a 45-year career in journalism. He worked as a reporter on four Midwestern daily newspapers and was the editor of two -- the Edwardsville (IL) Intelligencer and the Midland (MI) Daily News. For ten years he was editor and proprietor of an alternative monthly magazine covering local government in Midland. He taught journalism at Central Michigan University for 26 years, retiring as professor. He is a member of the Central Michigan University Journalism Hall of Fame. He is also a published poet and has facilitated several very well-received OLLI study groups on writing and performing poetry. This is his first OLLI course.


The Year of the Lie
Brant Houston
Wednesday, 3:30-5:00; February 22 through March 15 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester.

2016 was the year of the lie. Presidential candidates called each other liars. Political operatives, public relations, and social media doubled down on distributing untruths. Government and business leaders spoke ever increasing mumbo jumbo. This course will look at how the modern culture of lies evolved and how we can combat that culture with fact-checking and healthy skepticism. We will review selections from books and news columns that have chronicled the surge in lies – including Daniel Levitin’s recent A Field Guide to Lies. Then we will examine trusted fact-checkers and fact-checking Web sites and the techniques they use to expose dishonesty.

Instructor: Brant Houston is the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois where he teaches investigative and data journalism and oversees the online newsroom, CU-CitizenAccess.org.  He previously was executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a group of 5,000 members, for more than a decade and before that an award-winning investigative reporter for 17 years. He is co-author of The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook and author of Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide. He also is co-founder and the board chair of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, a consortium of more than 120 nonprofit newsrooms throughout the world. His OLLI courses receive rave reviews for his thorough research and numerous resources for students to explore.




Chance, Choice, and Chaos: Indeterminacy in Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries
Michael Siletti
Tuesday, 9:00-10:30; February 21 through March 14 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester and showcases the exceptional research of U of I Music graduate students. Another 4-week course on “Music of the Troubadours,” taught by Kelli McQueen, will meet during the first half of the semester in the same time slot; that course requires a separate registration.

In music, indeterminacy exists when elements of the compositional process or performance of a piece are left unspecified or subject to chance. This may involve ambiguous notation, rolling dice to compose melodies, or performance practices that allow for varying interpretations. This course will examine diverse music, including Gregorian chant, Baroque opera, and especially works by avant-garde composers such as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and John Zorn. Through listening, discussion, and in-class performances, students will gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the indeterminacy that exists in many kinds of music. No previous musical knowledge or ability is required.

Instructor: Michael Siletti is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before pursuing his doctoral studies, Michael earned a B.A. in music from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a M.M. in musicology from Illinois. A specialist in American music since the late nineteenth century, he has presented his research at various regional and national conferences. Since coming to Illinois, Michael has been named on the university’s “List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent” each semester he has been a graduate teaching assistant in musicology. This is his first OLLI course.


Jazz as Protest
Jenelle Orcherton
Wednesday, 9:00-10:30; January 25 through March 15

Jazz has a long history as being music of protest and as the voice of the social justice movement.  Musicians often take a public stand and are placed in the spotlight through their fame.  Their actions and choices help shape public opinion and are often crucial to an event's success. This survey course will delve into the links between jazz and social uprising including important historical examples up to present day. Artists will include Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Billie Holliday, Max Roach, and Vijay Iyer.

Instructor: Originally hailing from Montreal QC, Jenelle Orcherton is an active educator and jazz performer.  Her degrees are from University of Saskatchewan (B. Education) and the University of Illinois, (M.Mus, Jazz Performance), and she has served on many jazz and community organizations including the Saskatoon Jazz Society, Music Defying Boundaries, and most recently the Urbana Public Arts Commission.  She is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Champaign-Urbana Jazz Festival in its second season.  Jenelle has over ten years of education experience and is passionate about giving all audiences the opportunity to engage with jazz. This is her first OLLI course.  


Music of the Church: Passions, Requiems, and Masses
Matthew Sheppard
Wednesday, 3:30-5:00; January 25 through March 15

Sacred topics have served as inspiration for great art since time immemorial. The role of high art in liturgy has been (and remains) a controversial topic, yet music in some form has existed in almost all forms of worship. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, music has been used to set the Scriptures, reflect on life after death, and to provide present-day context to ancient religious themes. Each week, we will explore works from three genres - Passions, Requiems, and Masses - as we trace the course of liturgical music from the 18th century to present day.

Instructor: Known for his passion and enthusiasm for music and education, Matthew Sheppard leads an active career as both a performer and pedagogue. His Music Director appointments include the University Chamber Orchestra at the University of Chicago, the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company of Chicago, the Hyde Park Youth Symphony, the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and Civic Orchestra, and the UU Church of Urbana-Champaign. He also serves as Assistant Conductor of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra. His OLLI music courses regularly receive exceptional reviews, with students praising his command of the topic and engaging teaching style.

The Music of the Troubadours
Kelli McQueen
Tuesday, 9:00-10:30; January 24 through February 14 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester and showcases the exceptional research of U of I Music graduate students. Another 4-week course on “Indeterminacy in Music,” taught by Michael Siletti, will meet during the second half of the semester in the same time slot; that course requires a separate registration.

As the “singer-songwriters” of twelfth century France, the troubadours were the first in medieval Europe to compose songs in their vernacular language rather than Latin. This music dealt with a wide range of topics from love and art to politics and the shortcomings of society. The vast majority of these songs concern fin’amor or “true love,” often translated today as “courtly love.” This course will delve into the inner make-up these songs; discuss the men and women who wrote them; and examine the historical context enveloping the rise and fall of the troubadours and the survival of their music.

Instructor: Kelli McQueen is a Ph.D. student in musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her primary research includes poetry and song in the Middle Ages, performativity, book culture, and the history of musical notation. She is also interested in gendered organology and cultural studies in American popular music. This is her first OLLI course.




Erasmus and the Reformation
Willis Goth Regier
Wednesday, 11:00-12:30; February 22 through March 15 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester. Another course, “The Flow of Genetic Information,” taught by Claudia Reich, will meet in this time slot during the first half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

Erasmus, the greatest scholar of the Northern Renaissance, is praised for his breadth of knowledge and for his extraordinary books, his Adages, his Colloquies, the Praise of Folly, and his editions of the New Testament. A critic of the Church, he was urged to join the Reformation, but refused. From 1524 to 1527 he engaged in a battle of books with Martin Luther. They debated free will and the authority of scripture. The course will survey Erasmus’ life and his writings, both secular and religious. There will be recommended readings, but nothing required.

Instructor: Willis Regier retired in 2015 as the Director of the University of Illinois Press, having previously been director of the University of Nebraska Press and director of the Johns Hopkins University Press. He has published on Erasmus in Modern Language Notes and the Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature.  He has been a peer reviewer for two volumes of the Collected Works of Erasmus, published by the University of Toronto Press. In the spring of 2016 he curated an exhibit on Erasmus and the New Testament for the University of Illinois Library Rare Book and Manuscript Library and wrote the exhibit brochure. He will speak on Erasmus and Saint Paul at the March 2017 conference of the Renaissance Society of America. His OLLI courses receive strongly positive evaluations, with one recent student calling his course “OLLI at its highest potential.”


An Introduction to Aristotle’s Ethics
Robert Alun Jones
Monday, 9:00-10:30; January 23 through March 13

This new course will be an introduction for some, and a review for others, of some of the most characteristic arguments of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics – e.g., that the highest good, and the end toward which all human activity tends, is eudaimonia (“human flourishing”); that this is achieved through the exercise of virtue in accord with right reason; that this in turn requires sufficient external goods; that moral virtue is a relative mean between the extremes of excess and deficiency; and that virtue is acquired through knowledge, habit, and self-discipline.

Instructor: Robert Alun Jones is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, History, and Sociology. He has won a number of awards for innovative teaching, including four University of Illinois Undergraduate Instructional Awards, two AMOCO Foundation Awards for Undergraduate Instruction, the Prokasy Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the University’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. His major research and teaching interests have included the history of social and political theory and, particularly, the French philosopher and social theorist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). His numerous OLLI courses on philosophy and ethics have received strong reviews for the instructor’s deep knowledge and skillful teaching.



The Art of Yellowstone Science
Bruce Fouke
Monday, 3:00-4:30; January 23 through March 13

Art and science both originate from the same human desire to understand the world within and around us. In this course, photographic art at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National
Park is melded with cutting-edge natural sciences to search for common laws of nature through the power of observation and a willingness to embrace the unexpected. Biological evolution is the essential expression for this combination. This allows Mammoth to become a window on the universe, through which fundamental understandings of nature can be directly applied around the world and throughout the cosmos.

Instructor: Bruce Fouke is a Professor in Geology, Microbiology, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He also serves as Director of the Illinois Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center. Bruce works at the cross-disciplinary intersection of geology and molecular microbiology (Geobiology), with emphasis on the emergence and survival of Life within the context of dynamic Earth processes. Results have direct application to a wide variety of pressing societal interests that range from energy and human medicine to environmental sustainability and space exploration. His first OLLI course on “Emergence of Life” in spring 2016 received exceptional reviews, with one student saying, “What a class and what a professor! If I had known science was this exciting, who knows where I would have ended up?”


The Beauty of the Brain: Structural Foundations of Neuroscience
Gregory Stanton
Monday, 9:00-10:30; February 20 through March 13 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester. Another course, “Archaeology, Science, and the Bible,” taught by Sarah Wisseman, will meet in this time slot during the first half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

Modern neuroscience research originated in the last three decades of the 1800s when discoveries in neurophysiology, neurology, and anatomy combined to show the beginnings of functional organization in the brain and the physical bases of brain diseases. This 4-week course is a chronology of neuroanatomical methods from these early beginnings to present day. The instructor will highlight links between brain structure revealed by these methods and brain disorders resulting from brain injury or disease but the main objective is sharing the beautiful microscopic images and illustrations that the instructor has encountered in his career as a neuroanatomist.

Instructor: The instructor taught neuroscience for 30 years at Howard University, Department of Anatomy. He lectured and conducted teaching laboratories, and wrote syllabi and examinations for students of medicine, dentistry, and allied health. His primary responsibility was teaching in the Medical Neurosciences Course, an intensive 5-week, team-taught course for medical students. His area of expertise was motor systems neuroanatomy. During the last five years of his tenure, he was also the director, principal lecturer, and laboratory instructor of Musculoskeletal Anatomy for Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists. This is his first OLLI course.


Comets, Asteroids, and You
James Kaler
Thursday, 3:30-5:00; February 23 through March 16 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester.

This richly illustrated 4-week course will explore the small bodies of the Solar System, including comets, asteroids, and those at the fringe of the System beyond Neptune, with an emphasis on Pluto and the hypothesized Planet X. We’ll look at the lore and history of comets, how they are influenced by sunlight, the solar wind and magnetic field, and how they differ from asteroids. Of special interest will be the direct influence of comets and asteroids on the Earth, including impacts, meteorites, meteors, meteor showers, the zodiacal light, and what these bodies have brought to us. This new course will cover materials not included in the instructor’s previous OLLI courses.

Instructor: Jim Kaler, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, earned his A.B. at the University of Michigan, his PhD at UCLA, and has been at the University of Illinois since 1964, where his research involved dying stars.  Jim has held Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships, received the 2003 Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement and the American Astronomical Society's Education Prize for 2008, and has published nearly 20 books. He maintains two websites, "Skylights," which gives bi-weekly sky news, and "Stars," featuring the "Star of the Week."  Asteroid 1998 JK was named "17853 Kaler" in honor of his outreach activities. His numerous past OLLI courses on planets and the Solar System have received strong reviews for the instructor’s vast knowledge and teaching ability, and for the remarkable images in his presentations.


The Flow of Genetic Information
Claudia Reich
Wednesday, 11:00-12:30; January 25 through February 15 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester. Another course, “Erasmus and the Reformation,” taught by Willis Goth Regier, will meet in this time slot during the second half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

DNA and the genes that it comprises provide a molecular manual, specifying how to make an organism. Although genes are often likened to a computer program, they are more analogous to the instructions for the machines in a factory. They guide what is made, as well as the quantity, timing, and locations. The cellular machines are limited in what materials they can directly fashion (DNA, RNA, and proteins), but are almost completely flexible in the details of those products.  We will explore how different instructions (genomes) allow these basic machineries and molecules (shared by all of life) to produce the biological diversity we see around us, ranging from differences among individuals to the vast differences between species.

Instructor: Claudia Reich holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the U. of I. since 1987 and until retirement, she has been a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Research Assistant Professor and Senior Scientist in the Department of Microbiology, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and the Institute for Genomic Biology. She has guest lectured in several courses in the Departments of Microbiology and Plant Sciences, and organized and conducted workshops and training sessions on Computational Tools in Genomics Research at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Argonne National Labs. Her areas of expertise include Molecular Genetics and Bacterial Genomics. She retired from the University of Illinois in 2012. Her OLLI courses and study groups receive outstanding reviews for her skillful teaching style and mastery of the subject.


Hear All About It: How We Perceive Sound
David Tracy
Thursday, 11:00-12:30; January 26 through March 16

Beyond vision, our auditory capability is perhaps the most important of our senses. The ways in which sounds are created, propagated, and modified, detected by our ears, and finally perceived by our brains form the core of this course.  In-class demonstrations will be used liberally to explain and clarify important sonic phenomena. We will cover natural and man-made sounds, voices, and musical instruments. We will also explore sound recording and reproduction, as well as various applications of sound, including of course music. In approach, this course will be similar to the instructor’s spring 2016 course on color vision – as a physicist seeking to shed light on the human experience of hearing. No technical background is needed, of course.

Instructor: Dave Tracy earned his B.S in physics at the University of Florida. After a 2.5-year stint in the Peace Corps teaching high school math and physics in Malaysia, he obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1972. Following spectroscopy postdocs at Imperial College in London and at UW, he switched gears and entered industry, working over 20 years at Perkin Elmer developing semiconductor processing equipment and analytical instruments for chemistry and biochemistry, mostly involving optics. He retired from Perkin Elmer as VP, Science and Technology in 2000. Since then, he has consulted continuously in optical design for startups, research institutes, and large corporations, in the US and abroad. He has accumulated about 45 patents, and has always tried to help teach and mentor co-workers and clients – to simplify rather than obfuscate. Evaluations for the “Seeing the Light” course were uniformly excellent, with students praising the extensive use of demonstrations and experiments to encourage curiosity and exploration.


Landscapes of North America
David A. Grimley
Monday, 11:00-12:30; January 23 through March 13

This course will highlight landscapes of North America (USA and Canada) from the perspective of their geologic underpinning. Natural landscapes will be compared and discussed, from the high arctic to the Gulf Coast, glaciated to unglaciated lands, coastal plains and prairies to the Rockies and Cascades. Each week, we will consider a different geographic region’s landscape evolution with regards to geologic and climatic history. Time, climate, geologic structure, and substrate are factors that affect erosional processes, whereas recent geologic events, including volcanism and glaciation, provide new influxes of sediment. The impact of landscapes on soil development, ecosystems and societal land-use will also be considered.

Instructor: David Grimley has worked as a Quaternary Geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey since 1995. He received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Illinois in 1996. His current position involves various aspects of Quaternary (ice age period) mapping and research, mainly in the central USA region. His research interests and expertise include loess deposits and paleosols, Illinois and pre-Illinois Episode glaciations, Quaternary gastropods and paleoenvironments, surficial geologic mapping, surficial landforms, paleoclimate, soil magnetic properties, and soil-vegetation relations. Since the 1990s, he has authored or co-authored 24 journal articles, 39 maps, and nine field guides.  Dr. Grimley is also an adjunct professor in the NRES and Geology Departments at the U. of I. and has given numerous lectures on campus, at conferences, and for the public. His OLLI courses regularly receive high marks, with students citing his excellent presentations and numerous helpful images and in-class examples. 



American Popular Dancing
Jonathan Sivier and Judy Lachman

Monday, 1:30-3:00; January 23 through March 13

Throughout United States history, people have loved to dance. Every culture that has come here has brought their dances with them and incorporated their music and steps into the dances that were already being done. We will focus on dances that originated in the United States or have become known as American dances. Join us as we dance our way through American history from Native Americans to George Washington to those crazy kids of the 1960s. Each session will include a presentation and dancing. No dance experience or partners are necessary. Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

Instructor: Jonathan Sivier has been involved in traditional dance since 1987 and leading dances since 1992.  He is active with the Urbana Country Dancers and is one of the leaders of the Central Illinois English Country Dancers.  He regularly calls contra, English, and square dances in Champaign-Urbana and elsewhere, and has led dances at various locations around the country:  as far north as Michigan and as far south as Florida, from West Virginia to Hawaii.  In 2010 he was the recipient of an ACE Award from the Champaign County Arts, Culture and Entertainment Council for leadership in the local dance community.  He has taught several popular dance courses at OLLI, both solo and with co-instructor Judy Lachman.

Instructor: Judy Lachman first learned to dance while in junior high school and has been teaching folk dancing to children and adults for over 30 years.  She is a retired public school teacher.  She has co-taught several OLLI classes: “Let’s Dance” and “Around the World in 80 Dances” with Jonathan Sivier, receiving enthusiastic evaluations from students.


Become Strong, Stable, Secure, and Balanced with LV Chair YogaTM
Robin Goettel

NEW SCHEDULE – This is a 4-week course that meets Wednesday, 1:30-3:00; January 25 through February 15

LV (Lakshmi Voelker) Chair Yoga honors each student’s individual differences. Each posture helps nurture self-acceptance, understanding, and patience. Through this class, students will experience a calming atmosphere to help them de-stress and gain increased self-awareness. They will also learn about important yoga principles they can carry into their everyday life for improved health and wellness. Chair Yoga integrates body, mind, and spirit for those unable to practice Yoga on the mat. It creates a safe environment by: teaching how to do a pose safely, based on individual challenges; having an expanded awareness that every body is different; and adapting to the varied levels of flexibility in each class.

Instructor: Robin Goettel retired from the U of I in 2014 as an Associate Director for Education with the Sea Grant Program. She then decided to become more involved in promoting good health and wellness as a certified Chair Yoga instructor. She was trained by Lakshmi Voelker, a nationally-respected Chair Yoga teacher trainer who created her LV Chair Yoga program “Get Fit Where You Sit” ® in 1982. Robin has taught chair yoga classes at Clark-Lindsey Village, Sinai Temple, the Mettler Center, and the Urbana Park District’s Fall Fitness Program. She taught this course in spring 2016, and students noted the instructor’s professionalism and strong preparation during this very beneficial class.


Introduction to the Practice of Meditation/Mindfulness
French Fraker

Thursday, 9:00-10:30; February 23 through March 16 (4 weeks)
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester.

This 4-week course will give students the knowledge and guidance to develop a personal meditation practice. The instructor will present a basic overview of the history of meditation and physiological and psychological foundations of meditation. Students will learn techniques to relax and calm their body and their mind. Each class will include a series of short meditations designed to give the students the skills to begin a meditation practice at home. Students will be taught techniques to overcome the barriers and challenges faced by beginning meditators. The last class will cover mindfulness and give the students practice and variety of mindful activities. 

Instructor: French Fraker first became interested in meditation in the early 1970s when he was writing his M.A. thesis on biofeedback relaxation. He went through TM meditation training and studied the mind-body connection. He received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Illinois. He taught at Eastern Illinois University in a graduate counselor education program, with a focus on substance abuse. Upon retirement in 2005 he took his first OLLI class, which was a tai chi class. He has studied meditation and tai chi with several nationally renowned teachers. This is his first OLLI course.


Introduction to Tai Chi and Qigong Fundamentals
Mike Reed
Tuesday, 11:00-12:30 (section A) and Thursday, 11:00-12:30 (section B); Section A – January 24 through March 14, Section B – January 26 through March 16; there will be two sections of this course, with identical content, and students may register for only one section, which will bee weekly for 8 weeks.

Qigong is an ancient practice whose Chinese origins extend back in time nearly four thousand years. It was developed as a holistic art for nurturing a healthy mind, body and spirit. Over the millennia it has evolved into a wide variety of forms, which have played important roles - spiritual, social, political, military and medical– in Chinese cultural history. The practice of taijiquan, more commonly known in the West as tai chi, is a relatively new application of the principles of qigong to the purpose of martial arts. Tai chi was created as an internal martial art in the 17th century, and has since flourished as a general health practice as it is practicable for people of all ages and physical abilities. Each of the 8 sessions will be structured to provide an overview and acquaint students with the principles and practices of tai chi and qigong. This course is intended for both students who are new to tai chi and those who have taken it at OLLI or elsewhere in the past.

Instructor: Mike Reed has been studying and practicing Tai Chi and Qigong since 1998. He has shared his experience and understanding for the past 16 years with local students at OLLI, at the Savoy Recreation Center, and with research participants at the U of I and in a variety of other settings. One recent student said of this long-running course, “I learned enough about tai chi that I would like to continue to practice. It has improved my health!”


Nutrition and Your Health
Jaafar S. Dhahir

Wednesday, 9:00-10:30; January 25 through March 15

The food we eat gives our bodies the “information” and materials they need to function properly. If we don't get the right information, our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines. Before you open your medicine cabinet, go to your kitchen. “Real, whole, fresh food is the most powerful drug on the planet," says Mark Hyman, MD. "It regulates every biological function of your body.” This class will initiate conversation about the role of foods in combating some common health problems including immunity disorders, depression, metabolism and activity, dementia and Alzheimer, digestive problems, diabetes, and skin problems. Not only what to eat, but also how much and when to eat, will be covered in our discussion. New research on the effects of food on many diseases will also be discussed.

Instructor: Jaafar Dhahir received his Ph.D. in food science from Michigan State University at 1988.  He worked as a visiting Research Associate in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in MSU, and his research work related to Nitrosamine as a carcinogenic component in meat.  As a university professor in overseas courtiers (Iraq, Jordan, and Libya), he taught many courses in Nutrition and Foods and their relation to human health. In the last fifteen years, he focused on teaching and doing research at several universities. He authored and co-authored more than 15 research articles in the field of food and human nutrition, and edited and published one book in the field of nutrition. His past OLLI course and study groups have been well-received for the wealth of information presented.