OLLI Courses - Spring Semester 2018

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.)

The schedule of class meeting times can be found here, with additional information included in each listing below. All courses meet for 8 weeks unless otherwise noted in the description.

Browse courses by subject



4 Weeks, 4 Cities, 16 Artists
Barbara Kendrick
Thursday 11:00–12:30; January 25 through February 15
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester. Another art course on Portraits, Flowers, and Abstractions, taught by Rosalyn Schwartz, will meet during this time slot during the second half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

This course will use videos from the PBS show Art 21, Season 8 to stimulate discussions about issues in contemporary art. The award-wining Art 21 series is highly regarded for its exploration of contemporary art told from the artist’s point of view. The artists in Season 8 are grouped by the unique and revealing relationships to the places where they live: Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Vancouver. The artists share universal experiences through their life stories and creative works:  resistance, pleasure, mortality, and the hope for a better future. The season features 16 artists, each of whom actively participate in conversations about the pressing issues of our time, from terrorism to environmental crises to the struggle for civil rights. During each class we will watch the video for one of the cities, followed by class discussion.

Instructor: Professor Emerita Barbara F. Kendrick taught in the Painting and Drawing Program, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 1987 to 2007. She has exhibited her work in France, England, and Greece as well as throughout the United States. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, the Millay Colony, the MacDowell Colony, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.  Other residencies include Ragdale, Jentel, Banff, Fundacio Artigas, Gallifa, Spain, and the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Ireland.  She was awarded grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. She taught an earlier, well-regarded course on documentaries of leading artists.


The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
Laura O’Donnell
Monday 11:30–1:00; January 22 through March 12

Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s greatest architectural pioneers of the 20th century, had a career which spanned seven decades. His early Prairie style houses transformed American residential design by moving away from popular Victorian and European revival styles to a style that advanced the United States into the Modern era and reflected “American” values. Then, after a decade of scant commissions in the 1920s, Wright had a major relaunch of his career in the 1930s and went on to design some of his most memorable buildings such as Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, and Johnson Wax. (Although a survey of Wright’s architecture cannot be completely divorced from his biography, this course aims to focus on the architecture of Wright, not the drama of his personal life.)

Instructor: Laura O’Donnell teaches Art History and serves as Collections Coordinator for the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College. In conjunction with the Art Gallery and Community Education she helps organize and lead Art Expeditions traveling to the Chicago area, Indianapolis, and various Frank Lloyd Wright sites. She has published articles and given talks on contemporary ceramic art, taught ceramics to undergraduates at the University of Illinois, and worked at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park. She received an M.A. in the History of Art (Modernism from 1880–present) as well as an MFA (Ceramics) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her OLLI courses on art history have been well-regarded for the details and rich illustrations she provides.


Portraits, Flowers, and Abstractions: Just Another Pretty Picture?
Rosalyn Schwartz
Thursday 11:00–12:30; February 22 through March 15
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester. Another art course on 4 Weeks, 4 Cities, 16 Artists, taught by Barbara Kendrick, will meet during this time slot during the second half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

In this course we will look at how and why painters, both past and present, continue to use certain subject matter in their work, particularly portraits, flowers, and abstractions. For the first three sessions we will examine paintings by both well-known and lesser-known artists. In addition to discussing the formal elements, i.e., composition, color, and shape, we will also discuss if certain subject matter, when seen over and over again, can become boring, just more of the same, a cliché. Is making a painting of flowers today just too trite, “too cute,” even corny? And if so, who decides? We will look at works by such historical masters as Rembrandt, Gentileschi, Monet, O’Keefe, Redon, and Matisse and compare their work to a number of contemporary painters who are currently exploring the very same subject matter but in completely new, unexpected, and surprising ways. Another way to think about this might be: Can paintings of flowers or abstractions be more than mere decoration, more than just another “pretty picture” that goes perfectly over the couch? For the fourth lecture, there will be an overview of a wide variety of contemporary art being made today that makes use of non-traditional and very eclectic materials including clay, glitter, mirrors, fabric, ballpoint pens, hair, artificial flowers, chocolate, and more. This course will both affirm and challenge some of your assumptions about what you have always thought of as “good art” and hopefully stimulate you to broaden your curiosity and become more receptive to new and fresh ways of looking at art and the world.

Instructor: Professor Emerita of Art Rosalyn Schwartz taught painting and drawing for twenty years at the University of Illinois. In May 2008, Ms. Schwartz took 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. She maintains an active studio practice and is currently developing a new body of work. Her OLLI courses on art are well-received for the extensive examples and fresh perspectives that she shares.


Italian High Renaissance and Mannerist Art
Rosemary Trippe
Monday 5:30–7:00; January 22 through March 12

This course provides a survey of painting, prints, sculpture, and architecture in Northern and Central Italy from ca. 1490–1580, a period commonly termed High Renaissance and Late Renaissance or Mannerism. Rather than considering the relation of works and artists to one another in terms of unconscious or inevitable influence, they will be examined through a historical understanding of the artistic and literary practices of imitation and emulation. The growing dominance, in Central Italy, of court and princely patronage will be contrasted with the development of corporate and individual patronage in Northern Italy. The course will also examine artistic production and identity through the publication of the first history of Italian art, early works of artistic biography and criticism, the founding of academies of art and literature, and the Catholic Church’s program of Counter-Reformation.

Instructor: Rosemary Trippe works as a librarian in the Acquisitions Department at the University of Illinois Library. She received a Ph.D. in the history of art (Italian Renaissance) from Johns Hopkins University and has a M.L.S. from the University of Illinois. She taught at Michigan State, American University, and the University of Michigan. She has published on text and image relationships in Italian Renaissance books and manuscripts and the role of humanist learning on visual culture in the period. Her OLLI courses on art and architecture have received exceptional evaluations for the instructor’s deft teaching style and well-illustrated presentations.



Fact-Checking the Fake News
Brant Houston
Wednesday 3:30–5:00; January 24 through March 14

Over the past two years, the term "Fake News” has become ever-present. At the same time, new digital tools and methods have been developed to find what is true and what is fake. This course will trace the rise of fake news, the responses to it by news organizations and social media, and the ways that citizens can determine what may be fake news and protect themselves from being misled by it. The instructor will share information about determining the veracity of news sites, social media, photos and videos, and claims made by the government – using the same fact-checking tools that journalists use.

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. He taught his first of many OLLI courses in fall 2012, and his courses receive rave reviews for his thorough research and numerous resources for students to explore.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Cartel Culture in America
Janice Jayes
Tuesday 11:00–12:30; January 23 through March 13

Criminal organizations in the Americas have come a long way since the playboy kingpins of the 1980s. Their ability to branch into newly profitable fields like human trafficking, their transnational reach, and their chaotic levels of public violence keep them in the public eye, but less visible is the way they have altered societies. This course will briefly examine the recent history of cartels in the Americas, cartels in popular culture, and the cartel threat to the functioning of states. U.S. drug enforcement policies and U.S. participation in the economics of cartels are also important parts of the story.

Instructor: Janice Jayes is interested in contemporary security issues and has taught several courses for OLLI, including the Syrian Civil War and the U.S. Military in Africa. Although she now teaches Middle Eastern history at Illinois State University, she actually focused on Latin American politics in graduate school and is looking forward to the chance to investigate new developments in transnational crime and their effect on the hemisphere in this class. She taught her first OLLI course in 2014, and her 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 Syrian 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.”


From Farm to Table: Good Food
Ming Kuo
Wednesday 11:00–12:30; January 24 through March 14

Where does our food come from? As we follow food in its journey “from farm to table,” we address questions such as, What difference does eating “fresh and local” make? Where does our meat come from? Why do farmers use pesticides? Are GMOs safe?This course provides a delicious introduction to the world of food, drawing on readings, guest appearances from farmers and other members of the food system, taste tests, and virtual (or if possible, real) visits to the origins of food. Come prepared to discuss! If there’s interest, we’ll close with an (optional) fresh and local meal.

Instructor: Ming Kuo is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, where she teaches in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and Psychology Departments. In a survey of graduating seniors, her course was most frequently mentioned as a “favorite” in the department. Dr. Kuo gives keynote addresses to a variety of audiences, from urban foresters, to psychologists, to environmental educators, to landscape architects. This is her first OLLI course.


Donald Trump and the Press
John Palen
Monday 9:00–10:30; January 22 through March 12

The American press and the American President are adversaries by design: the President is one of the most powerful people on the planet, and the Constitutionally-protected press has a core responsibility to speak truth to power. Whoever occupies the White House can count on close and often negative coverage. Nevertheless, the Trump presidency has taken this inherent conflict to new levels of intensity, with consequences for the presidency, the press, and the public. This course examines why and how this is happening and what the future may hold. Topics will include the norms of President/press relations, lies and leaks in American political discourse, and the changing media landscape in the age of Twitter.

Instructor: John Palen is a retired journalist and journalism educator. He worked as a reporter, copy editor, and editor at daily newspapers in the Midwest, and taught journalism at Central Michigan University for 26 years. Also a published poet, he has a new full-length poetry collection coming out this year. He has facilitated several successful OLLI study groups, and his first course, in spring 2017, received excellent reviews for its thorough information and thoughtful discussions.


The Executive and Congressional Agenda in the Trump Era
Robert Rich
Monday 1:30–3:00; January 22 through March 12

This course will focus on the Presidential and Congressional policy agenda in the Trump era. We will focus on the domestic and foreign policy agenda. What is and has been the role of the President and Congressional leaders in developing and setting the agenda? The topics to be covered include: stimulating the economy, job growth, the tax structure and tax reform, entitlement reform including Social Security, Medicare, and welfare payments, infra-structure, and education. We will also examine trends in foreign policy especially with respect to Russia, China, Korea, and the Middle East. The tensions between Congress and the President will also be explored.

Instructor: Robert F. Rich is Professor of Law, Medicine, Political Science, and Public Health (retired) and Director of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (retired). He was Director of IGPA from 1986 to 1997 and from 2005 to 2012. He was on the faculty of the University of Illinois from 1986 to 2012. His areas of specialty include: health and mental health policy; science and technology policy; pension reform; and educational policy. The instructor’s numerous OLLI courses have received strong evaluations for his thorough knowledge of the subject, timely topics, and skillful discussions.


Trump vs. Putin: American-Russian Relations in a National and Global Context
Richard Tempest
Tuesday 1:30–3:00; January 23 through March 13

For the first time since the fall of communism, Russia stands at the center of the political conversation in the United States. The U.S.-Russia relationship is personified in the charismatic and controversial figures of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. This course will coincide with the 2018 Russian presidential election. It will compare the Trump and Putin agendas while examining the geopolitical, economic, and institutional factors shaping the competition between the two countries. It will also look at key diplomatic, military, and national security players on both sides as well as the role of public opinion in shaping U.S. and Russian foreign policy.

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 has lectured on these topics nationally and internationally. Tempest 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 recently 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 OLLI courses on Russian politics and policy have been among the best-received courses of the past few years.



History of the Hollywood Movie Musical
Christine Catanzarite
Friday 9:00–12:00; January 26 through March 16

This course will trace the history and evolution of the Hollywood movie musical - from its origins in the early days of sound films through the landmark productions of MGM’s famed Freed Unit and the experimentation of the post-classic era. This course will look at the uniquely cinematic examples of the musical genre: while musical films often borrow their performers, stories, and rhythms from other entertainment forms, including the Broadway tradition, the Hollywood musical quickly developed its own distinct vocabulary. We will devote our attention to those films that are not adaptations of Broadway productions, focusing on examples of Hollywood’s rich tradition of original musicals and the particular qualities that define them. Considerable attention will be paid to the conventions and evolution of the musical genre in film, from the stars and creative personnel to the stories and songs and dances that define the movie musical. Each session will feature a lecture/introduction, amply illustrated with clips and examples, followed by a screening of the feature film and a post-film discussion. Feature films will include: Meet Me in St. Louis, An American in Paris, The Band Wagon, That’s Entertainment!, Pennies from Heaven, Beauty and the Beast, and La La Land.

Instructor: Christine Catanzarite 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 has been the Director of OLLI at Illinois since January 2012. Evaluations from her spring 2017 course on the Broadway musical cited “the wonderful blend of history and background with video and music.”


Films Directed by William Wyler: Master of Genre and Performance
Connie Hosier
Monday 3:30–6:30; January 22 through March 12

This course will focus on a small selection of movies by director William Wyler. Known to be a meticulous craftsman, Wyler gained a reputation of making films that were serious, intelligent, and popular. Among classic Hollywood directors, Wyler made fine literary and theatrical adaptations that often addressed serious themes. By always demanding fine performances from his actors, he earned the title “40 take Willy,” and that most likely contributed to his winning more Academy Awards than any other filmmaker. Wyler was never really appreciated by the influential Auteurist movement, yet there remains a consistency in the high quality of his productions. Many are remembered for their striking images, for capturing fleeting emotion, or for highlighting a poignant moment. Issues of race, class, and gender also become interesting issues worthy of discussion. Our screenings will include eight movies that reflect Wyler’s ability to direct a wide range of genres and will include: The Letter (film noir), Mrs. Miniver (wartime propaganda), The Best Years of Our Lives (war), The Desperate Hours (gangster), The Westerner (Western), The Heiress (women’s picture), Jezebel (costume drama), and Dodsworth (family melodrama).  In a career that that began in the silent era and continued on into the 70s, William Wyler is remembered as one of the most accomplished and honored filmmakers in Hollywood history.

Instructor: After receiving an M.A. from Columbia University, Connie Hosier taught English in the New York City Public School System. She also taught at-risk students in Tucson and was the administrator for a school funded through an LEAA grant that she had written. After moving to Champaign, she taught film courses among other subjects at Parkland College for 23 years. Retired now for over a decade, she has taught numerous OLLI courses on film-related topics – where students regularly hail her well-structured, meticulously prepared presentations.


Orson Welles: Citizen Kane and Beyond
Chuck Koplinski
Wednesday 5:30–8:30; January 24 through March 14

Taking Hollywood by storm in 1940 and releasing the landmark Citizen Kane one year later, Orson Welles’ revolutionary approach to film was revelatory. However, he lived in the shadow of his first film for the rest of his career. Though he never topped Kane, he continued to bring his unique sense of innovation to all of his films for the next three decades. This course will examine Citizen Kane as well as Welles’ later works, including The Magnificent Ambersons, The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, Othello, Touch of Evil, Chimes at Midnight and F is for Fake.

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 tenth offering at OLLI. He taught his first course in 2013, and students regularly note his excellent film suggestions and informative introductions.



The Thames: London’s River
Fred Christensen
Wednesday 1:30–3:00; January 24 through March 14

Following last fall’s class on the rural Thames, this course will follow the river through London, from Hampton Court to the Thames Estuary. History, nature, art, literature, and technology are all linked to the river, with its character changing dramatically along this stretch. West of London, the “royal Thames” with affluent towns like Richmond and Kew inspired Turner’s paintings and Handel’s music. The river passes through the heart of the great city, past the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London, then through the new and fascinating 21st-century developments of Canary Wharf and Docklands. Beyond Greenwich, industrial sites alternate with carefully maintained nature preserves. As the river widens, the landscapes of Kent and Essex provide rural vistas once again. Every mile of London’s river provides significant or attractive topics for discussion, and there will be interesting surprises around each bend. This course is suitable for both new and returning students.

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 and other venues, in five areas of history and archaeology: Britain, Germany, early America, Israel/the Holy Land, and military history in general.  Fred has walked the full length of the official Thames Path from source to sea, and will present the river’s story in this class. He began teaching at OLLI in spring 2008, during OLLI’s second semester, and has offered courses in every semester since then. Recent student evaluations cited his carefully chosen materials, enthusiasm, and broad knowledge of the subject matter.


The Forgotten World War: The China-Burma-India Theater
John McCord
Tuesday 3:30–5:00; January 23 through March 13

If the European and Pacific Campaigns were examples of allied forces learning the art of war under fire and succeeding, the war in Burma was a war won despite the best efforts of all allies to lose. It is a war little understood in the U.S. mainly because the Navy was not there at all, the Army sent less than a division, and most of the Air Force was transport planes. It was as far from supplies as one could get. It was fought in part to support an ally (China) that was everything the western allies were fighting against and between allies that would not work together even if their lives depended upon it. Its legacy was anarchy, and it has been mostly forgotten.

Instructor: From 1990 to 1993, John McCord was in charge of the Navy and Marine Corps planning and implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties for the turnover of U.S. installations and relocation or closure of our various activities. He was recognized as the expert on the Canal and the Navy presence there and one of the Department of Defense experts as well. He has served as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Officer Candidate School at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida and Newport, Rhode Island, teaching Administration, Military Law, Naval Warfare and Tactics, and Seamanship. He holds a B.S. in history from the United States Naval Academy and a law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. His past OLLI courses on military history have received strong reviews for the instructor’s deep knowledge and detailed presentations.


Urban Legends
Kath Brinkman
Tuesday 11:00–12:30; January 23 through February 13
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester. Another course on Thoreau’s Walden and Other Works, taught by Willis Regier, will meet during this time slot during the second half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

Ever wonder if the story you heard that happened to a friend of a friend or your cousin’s neighbor’s boss is really true? Perhaps, the incredible (and incredibly detailed) story you heard about Mrs. Fields’ cookie recipe is really part of the rich modern folklore that makes up the urban legends we hear and read. Find out more about the urban legends that pervade our culture in their many forms. In this 4-week class, we will explore humorous, cautionary, and scary legends as well as cryptozoological characters such as Big Foot. Learn how the internet has morphed urban legends into sites such as Snopes and Creepy Pastas, which exist to confirm or demystify these durable stories. 

Instructor: Kath Brinkmann has taught four storytelling classes at OLLI to enthusiastic participants and has been a guest lecturer at the U. of I. Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She holds a master’s degree in Folktales and Storytelling from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her book, The Gift of the Unicorn and Other Animal Helper Tales, co-authored with Dan Keding was published in June 2016. As a founding member of the CU Storytelling Guild, she performs locally as well as regionally in the Midwest.


Echoes across Time: Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day and Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Linda Coleman and John Bennett
Thursday 1:30–3:00; January 25 through March 15

Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day belongs to the tradition of wresting past stories from their historical moorings and watching them play out in the writer’s own place and time. The novel contains allusions to a number of works by well-known African American writers. Naylor reaches even further afield, however, weaving in echoes of Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and most impressively The Tempest. A gumbo of stories oft told!

This highly interactive course will be an exploration of this novel’s fascinating connections to these other works – most directly to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. We’ll also screen the recently re-released film Daughters of the Dust to immerse ourselves in the Gullah culture and the beauty of South Carolina's once-isolated Sea Islands, where the novel is set. Any unabridged edition of The Tempest (preferably one that numbers, say, every fifth or tenth line) and any edition of Mama Day will work, but about three weeks before the course starts the class will receive an email with recommended editions (to facilitate following along during class discussion).

Instructors: Professor Emerita of English and Women's Studies at Eastern Illinois University, Linda S. Coleman specialized in Restoration and 18th century British literature, as well as Women’s fiction and life-writing. She is the current OLLI Board Chair. John Lansingh Bennett, a freelance editor working from Coffee Break Studio, taught literature for several decades at Lake Land College, the University of Scranton, and other schools. Their numerous OLLI courses and study groups on literary topics have been some of the most popular and well-regarded offerings in recent years.


Shakespeare on the Movie Screen
John Frayne
Friday 1:30–4:30; January 26 through March 16

The plays of William Shakespeare have for centuries found a secure place on the world’s stages. In the 20th century, some of these plays were adapted into filmed versions. Among these versions, there were many hits and misses, but along the way a series of memorable successes were created. This course will offer for study, comparison, and discussion the screening of a series of memorable Shakespeare filmings of such plays as Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Although the major emphasis of this course is on spoken drama, we will, time permitting, view for comparison memorable scenes from opera versions of Shakespeare’s works by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Charles Gounod, and Benjamin Britten.

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 a classical music critic for The News-Gazette. In recent years, he has volunteered at the Champaign Public Library FriendShop, serving on the Board and the FriendShop committee. He offered his first OLLI course in spring 2010 and has taught regularly since then, with students hailing his insightful treatment of topics from literature and film to classical music.


Short, Short Stories
James T. McGowan
Monday, 11:00–12:30; January 22 through March 12

To fabricate a completely realized short story – fully developed characters, a compelling plot, evocative descriptions of time and place – in less than a thousand or so words bespeaks a masterly control of language and fictional techniques that is relatively rare among writers, particularly modern writers. Such stories are not to be confused with Slices of Life, Anecdotes, Flash Fictions, Aphoristic Sketches, Prose Poetry, or other abbreviated forms of storytelling but as an admirable sub-genre in and of itself, one that blends the compression of poetic expression with the expansiveness of prose to create a unique literary way of expression. Through close readings and the application of various interpretive strategies, we will analyze and discuss a variety of Short, Short Stories to explore how and what a writer can achieve within the constrictive parameters emblematic of this genre, particularly as it applies to the careful selection of detail, terse, illuminative dialogue, and firm control of plot development. Stories by writers from Luigi Pirandello and Virginia Woolf to Katherine Anne Porter and Doris Lessing will be among the works under discussion. Readings will be provided by the instructor.

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. 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 thirty-three 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. His two recent OLLI courses on poetry received strong reviews for his well-chosen poems and insightful analyses.


Thoreau’s Walden and Other Works
Willis Goth Regier
Tuesday 11:00–12:30; February 20 through March 13
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester. Another course on Urban Legends, taught by Kath Brinkmann, will meet during this time slot during the first half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) has many claims to fame. He was one of the first American naturalists, an outspoken abolitionist, and author and practitioner of “On Civil Disobedience.” His first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), sold so poorly that he bought the unsold copies himself. He told his journal that he had a library of 900 volumes and had written 700 of them. Emerson coaxed him to begin a journal, now one of his most admired works. Emerson’s celebrated gift to Thoreau – permission to build and occupy a cabin by Walden Pond – resulted in an American classic.

Instructor: Willis Regier retired in 2015 as the Director of the University of Illinois Press. He has authored three books – two were selected as CHOICE “Outstanding Academic Books” – and edited another. He has published essays and reviews in American Academic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Language, Modern Language Notes, Paideuma, World Literature Today, and other journals. He taught his first OLLI course in fall 2015, and his courses receive strongly positive evaluations, with one recent student calling the experience “OLLI at its highest potential.”



Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, op. 66 (1963)
Chester Alwes
Monday 1:30–3:00; February 19 through March 12
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester. Another course on Beethoven: His Life and Music, taught by Kelli McQueen, will meet during this time slot during the first half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

Britten’s War Requiem will be performed by the U. of I. choruses and orchestra in May 2018. Having established itself as the major choral/orchestral work of the 20th century in the fifty years since its debut, a preparatory study of the work will greatly enhance the performance experience for those unfamiliar with the work. Commissioned for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1963, the work fuses the Requiem mass with a series of anti-war poems by Wilfrid Owen, who died in the final weeks of WWI. All materials will be provided by instructor. Optional reading: Cooke, Mervyn. Britten: War Requiem. Cambridge University Press (New York, 1996)

Instructor: Chester Alwes is Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Illinois, where for 29 years he conducted various choral ensembles and taught graduate courses in the history of choral literature. Alwes is the author of a definitive, two-volume History of Western Choral Music, published by Oxford University Press (2015, 2016) and has published articles and given lectures on Britten’s War Requiem. His OLLI music courses have received high marks for the instructor’s mastery of the subject.

Beethoven: His Life and Music
Kelli McQueen
Monday 1:30–3:00; January 22 through February 12
This is a 4-week course that meets during the first half of the semester. Another music course on Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, taught by Chester Alwes, will meet during this time slot during the second half of the semester; that course requires a separate registration.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) lived during a revolutionary period when political movements toppled monarchies and intellectual movements chased the hope of liberty, fraternity, and equality. No less revolutionary was the life of this composer who suffered great personal difficulties, but persevered beyond them to create music that startled his audience with innovation, pathos, and heroic ideals. This class will look at the details of Beethoven’s life and times in relation to the music that he produced.

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 Romanticism in music and literature and has a forthcoming article in the journal Arietta titled “From Minnelied to Liederkreis: Locating the Middle Ages in Beethoven’s Work.” Her first OLLI course, in spring 2017, was well-received by students who appreciated her detailed presentations.


A History of Electronic Music CANCELED
Barry R. Morse
Monday 3:30–5:00; January 22 through March 12

This is a historical survey of the various styles, techniques, and personalities of the musical genre of electronic music (aka electro-acoustic music) in its many forms. The course will introduce students to early live electronic music and instruments such as the Theremin; fixed-media sound collage known as musique concrete; the evolution of the synthesizer; and the advent of computer music. Personalities range from John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen to the Beatles and Mouse on Mars, and styles from classical academic studio techniques to synthesized film soundtracks, electronica, and Blip-Hop.

Instructor: Barry R. Morse received his Doctorate of Music Arts degree in composition from the University of Illinois in 2016. He has composed over 100 pieces, including educational music and music for multiple Theremins. In 2016 he founded the Etherphonic Theremin Orchestra, comprising eight Theremin instruments, which he conducts in group improvisations. As an improviser on trumpet, Theremin and electronics, he co-formed the Wu-Morse Duo, also in 2016, with collaborator Allen Wu, a laptop computer performer. Barry has taught various Music History and Appreciation courses at the University of Southern Maine and the York County Community College, in Wells, Maine. This is his first OLLI course.


Women in Jazz
Jenelle Orcherton
Wednesday 9:00–10:30; January 24 through March 14

There have been many great women jazz musicians, some well-known and recorded, others overlooked. This course will follow some of the women who helped push jazz forward and those who are continuing the tradition today. Artists will include “Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith; Mary Lou Williams, songwriter for bandleaders including Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman; Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”; Marian McPartland, host of Piano Jazz on NPR until 2011; singer and pianist Diana Krall; bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding; Ingrid Jenson, who has recorded over 35 albums; and guitarist Mary Halvorson.

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 third season. Jenelle has over ten years of education experience and is passionate about giving all audiences the opportunity to engage with jazz. Her OLLI courses on jazz history and performance have received high marks from students for her deep knowledge of the subject matter and engaging teaching style.



Meeting Joseph Campbell through Film
Tom Neufer Emswiler
Tuesday 1:30–3:00; January 23 through March 13

Joseph Campbell was a foremost interpreter of world mythologies, author or editor of twenty books, lecturer and researcher around the world, and professor at Sarah Lawrence College for 38 years. Bill Moyers had the great privilege of talking with Campbell about his understandings of mythology, his thoughts about religion, politics, and human interacting during the last two years of Campbell’s life (1986-1987). Many of these conversations made up the hour-long presentations which were featured on PBS and made available through DVDs. We will meet Campbell through these conversations and through other films and videos.

Instructor: Tom Neufer Emswiler has taught four well-received film classes at OLLI along with many other classes on a variety of topics. He has been a student of film all his life and has a collection of over 1,600 films. He is a retired United Methodist minister and his work for almost forty years in churches and campus ministries help him to bring theological and philosophical insights and understandings to these films featuring Joseph Campbell. 


A Rabbi Encounters (translations of) the Koran
Rabbi Norman Klein
Wednesday 11:00–12:30; January 24 through March 14

This course will explore the scope of the Koran, its style, structures, content,  teachings, and what we can derive concerning the events and peoples depicted in its chapters and verses, including pre-Muslim Arabia, and its resident pagans, Christians, and Jews. We shall also explore what can be known about its collection as a religious document, and its interpretation. The structure of the course will be similar to the instructor’s recent, well-received course, A Rabbi Encounters the New Testament. The title of this course includes the parenthetical phrase “(translations of)” because Muslim believers consider only the Koran in its original Arabic as authentic, as that was the way it was received from Allah by the Prophet Mohammed.

Instructor: Norman Mark Klein, M.A.H.L., D.D., is retired as the emeritus rabbi at Sinai Temple in Champaign after serving as the interim rabbi at Temple Beth Orr, Coral Springs, FL, Temple Israel, Ottawa, Canada, and at Temple Beth Torah in Wellington, FL, 2013-2017. Before becoming Rabbi Emeritus at Sinai Temple, Champaign, IL, he served as rabbi from 1995-2013. Rabbi Klein was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985. He was rabbi of Temple Ohav Shalom, Allison Park, Pennsylvania from 1985 to 1991, and the rabbi of Temple Rodef Shalom, Waco, Texas, from 1991 to 1995. Rabbi Klein came to rabbinic school at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion with an interest in literature, having done graduate work at Indiana University, Bloomington (A.B.D. in the Ph.D. program of the English Department), with his thesis work on the subject of the interaction of character and place in contemporary novels set in exotic places. His rabbinic thesis focused on a contemporary Israeli novel. He has taught several extremely well-received courses at OLLI on subjects related to religious studies.


The Price of a Life: Rational Thought as a Guide for Empathy
Melih Sener
Thursday 3:30–5:00; January 25 through March 15

What is the price of a life? Who decides it? Whether we choose to know or not, society assigns numerical values to most aspects of our lives. Numbers paint a clear picture as to who we are as a people, including our inherent biases based on race, gender, or nationality. Using case studies on controversial topics such as plastic waste, climate change, wealth distribution, and child labor, we will paint an evidence-based mirror to our actions and inactions. The class seeks a consilience between the quantitative arguments of rational thought and the lyrical pleas of humanist literature in their common quest for constructing a society based on mercy, justice, and empathy. The course is accessible to those who would rather sit at a dentist chair then worry about mathematics.

Instructor: Melih Sener is a research scientist at Illinois who specializes in the harvesting and conversion of sunlight in nature as a source of energy to sustain all life. The questions addressed in his work as a biophysicist include how cellular mechanisms achieve high efficiency, robustness, and optimality and what we can learn from nature to design better solar energy solutions. With a theoretical physics and mathematics background, he applies computational and theoretical tools to complex problems in biology. As an extension of his quantitative studies of nature, he advocates that numerical literacy provides an improved decision making platform in public policy. He presented two extremely successful lectures at OLLI in 2017, and this is his first OLLI course.


Golden Ages of Astronomy
David Linton
Thursday 1:30–3:00; February 22 through March 15
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester.

From time to time, a branch of science surges forward, adding an abundance of new ideas to our understanding of the world around us in a relatively short period of time. These “surges” have sometimes been driven by new technologies, sometimes by new ways of analyzing observational or experimental results, and sometimes by performing an experiment or observation with greater accuracy than ever before. These “Golden Ages” can also be very interesting times to be alive. This course will examine four such periods during the history of Astronomy: (~500 BC) The Ancient Greeks Seek Natural Causes; (1609) The Telescope Leads to a Revolution in Thought; (1920s) The Discovery of the Universe; and (1957) Astronomy From Above Earth’s Atmosphere.

Instructor: Now EIU Professor Emeritus, Mr. Linton was named Illinois Professor of the Year in 1988. He earned an M.S. in Astrophysics at the University of New Mexico in 1971 and taught physics and astronomy at Parkland College from 1971 to 2002 and at Eastern Illinois University from 2004 to 2017. He has lectured on cruise ships and in planetariums, led student groups to the Rockies, to North Dakota (1979 Total Solar Eclipse), and to Mexico (to see Halley's Comet in 1986), taught Astronomy in Japan, ridden a mule into the Grand Canyon and a camel into the Sahara Desert, visited the homes of Galileo and Einstein, and hosted a Russian Cosmonaut as his house guest. After two successful lectures in August 2017 that inspired many OLLI members to become amateur eclipse-chasers, this is his first OLLI course.


Science in Current Events
Kevin Pitts
Thursday 9:00–10:30; January 25 through March 15; click the link above to see the schedule for this course

Many of the things that we encounter every day, as well as many events that we read about in the newspaper, have a basis in science and technology. Examples include smartphones, driverless cars, North Korea’s nuclear tests, the Paris Climate Accords, and election hacking. In this course, we will investigate the science behind some of these issues and discuss how they influence our lives as well as public policy.  

Instructor: Kevin Pitts earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Oregon. He worked at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory before coming to the University of Illinois in 1999 where he continues to perform research in high energy physics. At the U. of I., he is a Professor of Physics and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. His OLLI courses have received outstanding evaluations, with students citing his excellent teaching and deep knowledge of the subject matter.


A World of Color
David Tracy
Thursday 9:00–10:30; January 25 through March 15

Our most important sense is that of sight, to which a large part of our brain is devoted.  A crucial aspect of vision is color perception, but our color discrimination is in some ways extremely limited, and yet in other respects highly sophisticated.  With only three primary color sensors, we manage to separate a million or so hues, while failing to distinguish at least as many others. This course will explore the remarkable ways in which color is physically formed, detected in our eyes, and finally perceived, with numerous “eyes-on” demonstrations and experiments. It will also cover color in art and photography, color illusions, and the deep connections between color and other senses, especially sound. This course builds on an earlier OLLI course, Seeing the Light. While covering new ground, it will be self-contained and suitable for both returning and new students. No scientific background or knowledge is required.

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 twenty 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 extensively in optical design – principally for biotechnology instrumentation such as DNA sequencers – for startups, research institute, and large corporations, in the U.S. and abroad. He has accumulated about 48 patents. His OLLI courses have been well-regarded for his skill in describing, and demonstrating, complex topics for non-specialists.



Introduction to Classical Pilates
Elizabeth Bartell
Monday 3:30–5:00; January 22 through March 12

This class will offer an introduction to Classical Pilates, mainly through physical instruction and a brief look into the history of this modern exercise. Joseph Pilates began creating his method as a prisoner of war during World War I, when he helped bedridden patients use springs and hospital beds to create resistance. The method is known for its rehabilitative power and for helping with back pain, mobility, flexibility, and balance. Each class will include a combination of exercises that focus on stretching, strengthening, and balance. The instructor will guide students through these exercises from both sitting and standing positions, and include modifications for all fitness levels.

Instructor: Elizabeth Bartell is the owner of Dulak Pilates Center in Champaign and a certified instructor in the Romana’s Pilates method. Elizabeth is passionate about Pilates and how it can change and improve the lives of those who practice it. This is her first OLLI course.


LV Chair Yoga ™ for Advanced Beginners
Robin Goettel
Monday 1:00–2:30; February 19 through March 12
This is a 4-week course that meets during the second half of the semester.

Practicing yoga helps improve balance, flexibility, and strength, along with concentration and patience. This Advanced Beginner class is tailored for those who have previously taken Robin’s chair yoga class or who have other yoga experience. We’ll go deeper into topics such as the mind-body connection, stress reduction, and adaptation of yoga principles into daily life – with the goals of increased self-confidence and improved health/wellness. This class creates a safe environment by:
teaching proper ways to do a pose, based on individual challenges; expanding student awareness that every “body” is different; and adapting to varied levels of flexibility.

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 has taught this course three times since spring 2016, and students have noted the instructor’s professionalism and strong preparation during this very beneficial class.


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 23 through March 13, Section B – January 25 through March 15; there will be two sections of this course, with identical content, and students may register for only one section, which will meet weekly for eight 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 eight 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. This course was offered in OLLI’s first semester and has been taught in nearly every semester since then. One recent student said of this course, “I learned enough about tai chi that I would like to continue to practice. It has improved my health!”


Ballet for Adult Beginners
Lei Shanbhag
Monday 9:30–11:00; January 22 through March 12

Ballet is a classical dance form applicable as an artistic performance, as well as an elegant fitness and wellness exercise. Ballet develops strength, tone, flexibility, balance, and grace through extension. Ballet not only transforms how your body looks, but it also affects the way you move. Its total mind and body engagement ultimately develops a more athletic, functional, and refined mind and body connection. This class focuses on the adult beginner; however, experienced participants will also benefit from the class. It is a low impact workout, suitable for all ages.

Instructor: Lei Shanbhag has been learning and dancing ballet for more than 25 years since she came to the United States from China as a graduate student. The first adult ballet she attended opened her eyes about the possibilities of what ballet could offer. She believes ballet can be an excellent means for fitness and wellness. She has been teaching ballet for adult beginners for the past two years in several fitness venues, including the Champaign Fitness Center, Mettler Center, and Savoy Recreation Center. She has also been a Zumba instructor for the past four years. This is her first OLLI course.


Popular Ballroom Dances
Alex Tecza
Wednesday 1:00–2:30; January 24 through March 14

With the growing popularity of ballroom dancing and more exposure on TV, new studies have been conducted to test the benefits of this activity. The multidimensional benefits of dancing include all areas of health: physical, mental, social, and emotional. In this course, you will learn the basics of popular ballroom dances and how to create your own patterns so you can have fun improvising. We will also show you how you can dance what you learned to almost any music. Thus, you will never feel left out at any dance party. No partner required. Dances taught in this session will include rumba, tango, cha cha, and mambo. This course is suitable for both new and returning students.

Instructor: Alex Tecza is a former competitive ballroom dancer. His achievements include titles of professional national and world finalist, Dancers Cup Tour Professional Couple of the Year two years in a row, and several wins in professional standard, smooth, and showdance divisions. Since retiring from competitions, Alex has continued to teach and perform all over the country. Locally, he has taught master classes and workshops for Dance Department at the U. of I. and Regent Ballroom, choreographed and performed in productions at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and coached the Illini Dancesport team. Alex teaches students of all ages and levels. This is his second OLLI course, and students in the fall semester appreciated the lively class sessions and skilled instruction.