OLLI Study Groups - Summer 2018
July 9–August 31, 2018

Registration is now open!

Mondays, July 9–August 27


Art of the Heist
Suzanne Meier

The group will watch one episode per week of “Art of the Heist: Inside the Art World’s Biggest Thefts.” The episodes combine fine art, mystery plus real life art thefts – true crimes, some of which are still unsolved. No reading is required.

Facilitator: Suzanne Meier has an extensive background in the history of architecture and art and is very interested in culture, popular art movements, and how they affect and shape the built environment. She has given lectures in the past for various groups and was a frequent guest lecturer at the Theosophical Society of Baltimore.

Tuesdays, July 10–August 28


David Szalay’s "All that Man Is"
Paula Watson


Exploring the PBS Series “Craft in America”
Kathy Robinson

A marvelous PBS series focuses on the work of professional craftsfolk in the United States doing world-class ceramics, fiber art, glass work, woodwork, and so much more. We will watch one episode each week and discuss the artists and their creations.

Reading materials and source: To see the dazzling topics we will choose from after the first episode (which will be selected by the primary facilitator, Kathy Robinson), check out the website http://www.craftinamerica.org/ Click on PBS Series for each episode, or scroll to the bottom for links to teaching guides, biographies, related publications, and other materials. They also maintain a YouTube channel where the episodes and other materials can be streamed: https://www.youtube.com/user/craftinamerica2007

Facilitator: Kathy Robinson is a self-described amateur “maker” who admires the discipline and artistry of premier craftsfolk the world over. Like-minded OLLI fellow students will surely enjoy seeing examples of premier work being done and explained by the artists. At the first session, participants will help select the episodes from the series for the remaining 7 weeks. Anyone who wishes to facilitate a particular session will be welcome to sign up at that first session.

Wednesdays, July 11–August 29


The New Yorker
Kathleen Holden and Marilyn Resch

The New Yorker provides a unique mix of articles and reviews on current topics, literature, and the arts. This study group is designed for readers of The New Yorker who want to get together to discuss current articles from the magazine. Members will be encouraged to choose and lead the discussion of one or more articles during this session. Participants are required to have some reliable means of obtaining the articles to be discussed.

Reading materials (Required): The New Yorker magazine

Facilitators: Kathleen Holden is a retired UIUC administrator. She has been a member of several interesting OLLI study groups, including the New Yorker.

Marilyn Resch is a retired attorney. Since joining OLLI in late 2013, she has participated in a number of study groups on a variety of topics. The New Yorker is one of her favorites.


The Economist: Reading and discussing selected articles from this weekly magazine
Jeff Gordon, Jim Gentry and Gayle Goold

The Economist is a global weekly magazine written for those who share an uncommon interest in being well and broadly informed. Each issue explores domestic and international issues, business, finance, current affairs, science, technology and the arts. The Economist, an English magazine, has been in publication since 1843. The reporting is currently from 196 countries, decidedly with an international flavor. The circulation includes 4.5 million print subscribers and 2.8 million digital readers making it the most widely read magazine covering politics, economics, culture and general news around the world.

Participants will discuss the selected articles, take turns commenting on the topics, and add insights and information from other resources, personal experience, and knowledge, e.g. travel in foreign country. We aim to have active participation and lively conversations about the world today.
Come join us in reading and discussing world events as seen more broadly than from any other periodical being published today.

Reading materials (Required): All participants are expected to have access to The Economist in print or digitally. Student subscription rate is available for short term or annually. An inquisitive interest in world affairs is encouraged. New print subscribers should expect 4-6 week delay in receiving the magazine. Digital access is available through the Champaign Public Library at no cost with a library card.

Facilitators: Jeff Gordon retired in 2014 after 23 years at the Building Research Council, where he participated in the research, educational, and public service missions relating to building science. A wide-ranging curiosity about the world led him to The Economist magazine. He has been an active participant in The Economist study group at OLLI for the past two years.

Jim Gentry is a retired Professor of Finance at the University of Illinois. He was on the faculty for 36 years, but continued to teach until 2013. His area of expertise and interest was credit analysis, cash flow management and corporate finance. He was involved in numerous executive development seminars over the years. As of May 31, he completed a Cash Flow Story that he is submitting for publication.

Gayle Goold, retired farmer, construction business owner, first read The Economist when majoring in Economics and History at Cornell College class of ’69. He has continued reading the magazine (off and on) since then and considers it to be the most reliable information source available to “world” citizens today.


TED Talks – Ideas Worth Spreading
Denise Taylor and Janet Summers

The nonprofit organization TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is committed to the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and quite possibly the world. Since 1984, TED has invited exceptional thinkers, innovators and artists from around the world to present their projects and ideas at its biannual conferences. These talks are available online. They range from fascinating, beautiful, heart-wrenching, and funny to practical, profound, wondrous, and even life-altering.

In this study group, we’ll watch several TED talks each week and discuss the ideas they present. The facilitators will choose the talks but encourage suggestions and feedback from group members. Talks will be shown with English language subtitles. This study group requires no extra reading or other advance preparation for registrants. Just come for some fun and great conversation.

Facilitators: Denise Taylor is a semi-retired epidemiologist and public policy analyst and is active in development and strategic planning for non-profits. She has facilitated the TED Talks study group several times.

Janet Summers is the OLLI Outreach Specialist and will be providing technical support for the group.

Thursdays, July 12–August 30


Cross-Currents in Early American Modernism 1913-1929
Sharon Williams

The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought profound change to the United States. A new modern sensibility was emerging. How would American artists represent this changing America? How would they create art that reflected modern America, not France?

For years American artists had studied in Europe, looking to those artists, especially the French, to lead them. The general American public, however, was conservative. U.S. museums and galleries purchased and displayed mostly the works of academic traditional European artists, not those of either avant-garde European or American artists.

During the 1913 Armory Show, European avant-garde artists dismayed the American public. The Show ignited disagreements about the direction Modern American art should take and the qualities it should have to be “American”. What was to be the place of the American artists who had already adopted these “strange” styles? What would be the role for the working American artists whose works now seemed to be a part of the past or who chose to reject these avant-garde styles?

It is these “cross-currents” that we will explore in this study group, concentrating on the art of the period 1913-1929. Many of the artists we will view would not receive credit for their contributions to American Modernism until the 1960’s. We will also consider the cross-currents exhibited in American Art Deco and the Harlem Renaissance.

Each week Sharon will post on the OLLI website readings and paintings, which will be the basis of that week’s discussion. Additional paintings, videos, and films, with comments from art historians, will be used to add to the understanding of each week’s artists and topics. During one session, we will view and discuss the film “Visible Silence: Marsden Hartley Painter and Poet”.

Week One: Introduction, Armory artists and Early Cubism and Abstraction
Week Two: The City/Precisionists
Week Three: Avant-Garde and the Land
Week Four: Marsden Hartley Film
Week Five: Art Deco
Week Six: Stuart Davis film and Early Harlem Renaissance
Week Seven: Harlem Renaissance
Week Eight: Moving toward the 30’s and Quiet, Strange Places

Facilitator: Sharon Williams is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and a State of Illinois licensed Interior Designer who was co-owner of a furniture and design business for over 35 years. She has an interest in art and art history and hopes to share her knowledge and learn from other OLLI members. She has served as chair of the Study Group Committee and has participated in numerous study groups and courses. This is the 12th Art History study group she has facilitated.


Best American Mystery Stories 1998
Bev Herzog, Ron Baker, and Paula Kaufman

This session we will be reading and discussing the twenty stories in The Best American Mystery Stories 1998 edited and introduction by Sue Grafton, and Otto Penzler, Series Editor. This is the second book of the series. This volume contains stories by such well-known authors as Lawrence Block, Mary Higgins Clark, Walter Mosley, and Joyce Carol Oates as well as some who were new authors in 1998. Guest editor Grafton wrote in her introduction, "Nowhere is iniquity, wrongdoing, and reparation more satisfying to behold than in the well-crafted yarns spun by the writers represented here." 

Group members will be expected to read and be ready to discuss to two to three stories, totaling approximately 40-60 pages, each week. Group members will also be asked to volunteer to lead discussions of a story or two, including researching the authors of the stories and developing study questions. Many members follow the session with lunch together at a local restaurant, where they may continue to discuss the stories and develop friendships. Story leaders get to select the restaurant.

Reading materials (Required): The Best American Mystery Stories 1998, edited and introduction by Sue Grafton and Otto Penzler, Series Editor (ISBN: 9780395835852).

Facilitators: Bev Herzog is a retired geologist who has been an avid reader of mysteries since she was introduced to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden as a child. She has participated in mystery short stories study groups since joining OLLI in 2010 and has co-facilitated this group 12 times since 2011 to excellent reviews.

Ron Baker is a retired Federal Human Resources Manager and OLLI member since 2013. He almost exclusively reads mystery stories and has been in several OLLI mystery story study groups. He has co-facilitated this group seven previous sessions.

Paula Kaufman is the University Librarian emerita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after spending her career in academic and special libraries and an information-industry startup company. Paula discovered Ellery Queen, Jr. when she was about the same age of his lead character Djuna and has been hooked on mysteries ever since. She has participated in the Mystery Short Story study group since 2014 and co-facilitated the group last summer.


Time Magazine
John Moore

The group selects three articles from Time Magazine each week to discuss, with a volunteer leader for each article. Time Magazine is the world’s leading newsmagazine, featuring national and international affairs; health, business, culture and entertainment.

Reading materials (Required): All participants are expected to have access to Time Magazine in print or digitally.

Facilitator: John Moore is an almost retired Allergist and Pediatrician. He is a long-time fan of Time and Newsweek.


These Are A Few of our Favorite Films
Linda Coleman, Frank Chadwick, Nancy Blake, Casey Sutherland, Marilyn Resch, Tom Galer-Unti, Christine Catanzarite and Claudia Reich

Eight facilitators will present eight films, one per week, covering a broad variety of genres and times, from the 1960s to the present. This new study group is meant to provide some light and fun summer entertainment.

Each session will see one facilitator present a film of their choice, giving a brief introduction, then the film itself, and then lead a discussion of the film with some possible additional background provided. The eight films will be:

Linda Coleman: Brother From Another Planet (1984)
Frank Chadwick: Ripley's Game (2002)
Nancy Blake: Purple Noon (1960)
Casey Sutherland: Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Marilyn Resch: Big Night (1996)
Tom Galer-Unti: Ender's Game (2013)
Christine Catanzarite: Pleasantville (1998)
Claudia Reich: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Facilitators: The facilitators have, between them, over four hundred years of experience watching, enjoying, and thinking about films. All have served as study group facilitators and/or instructors at OLLI before, and most of them in film classes or study groups.

Fridays, July 13–August 31


Writing and Performing Poetry
Kathy Robinson, Abigail Gray and Frank Modica

This is a poetry writing workshop culminating in a reading by participants for family, friends and OLLI members. Each week, a model poem will be presented by the facilitators and discussed briefly by the group. Past models have included poems by such writers as Richard Wilbur, Jane Kenyon, May Swenson and Hayden Carruth.

The goal of discussion is not to critique the model, but rather to find ways in which its topic, theme, language, imagery or emotional appeal can inspire original new poems by the participants. Participants will create a quick draft of their own poem in the workshop and revise the work at home. After the first class meeting, each session will begin with a “read-around” of the poems inspired by the model poem of the previous week. Discussion of the class poems will focus on clarification and questions. The group is not for critiques. Brief periods may also be set aside to discuss such topics as the writing process, revision, effective oral presentation, and how to seek publication. The final class session will consist of a reading by the participants before an invited audience, with refreshments to follow.

No prerequisite skills are required. Reading material will be supplied by the facilitators.

Facilitators: All three facilitators have previously participated in John Palen’s Writing and Performing Poetry study group, as well as other OLLI courses. The co-facilitators have also been presenters in the Poetry study group. Two of the facilitators are published poets. 


Advanced Latin
Harold Diamond

Advanced Latin is a continuation of the Advanced Latin study group that has been meeting through OLLI since 2013. We welcome prospective members. Participants should have prerequisite skills in the Latin language, e.g. some familiarity with grammar and vocabulary. Our meetings are lively and include discussions of historical and etymological topics. We have completed Orberg's Lingua Latina Pars I and Ecce Romani II-B and III. We have recently read works of Caesar, Cicero, and Augustus, among others.

Reading materials (Required): We are currently reading Using Latin: Book II, by Gummere and Horn, published by Scott, Foresman, 1955. It will be useful also to have a Latin grammar book and a Latin dictionary for this study group.

Facilitator: Harold Diamond studied Latin in high school, attended Kay Neal's OLLI classes, and participates in the Advanced Latin study group. All members of the group share in determining the path we follow.


Writers’ Café
Frank Chadwick

Each week we meet to exchange news about writing in the Champaign-Urbana area, share a craft tip or exercise, and then (the main activity) read passages we’ve written and have the group critique them and make suggestions for improvement. We write all genres and forms: children’s stories, young adult, science fiction, historical fiction, memoir, poetry, song, travel – you name it. All levels of experience welcome. We all start somewhere, and the best place is in the company of those who are working toward the same goals.

Facilitator: Frank Chadwick is a published historian and novelist and his Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He has facilitated several OLLI study groups and taught two OLLI courses - Writing the Novel and The 1973 Arab-Israeli War.


Going for Baroque: Movies of the 17th Century
Fred Christensen and Cindy Mann
1:30–4:30 (July 20–August 31, 7 sessions)

Tired of the Tudors? The next century’s dynasties (Stuart, Orange, and Bourbon) were just as interesting, and the lives of ordinary people just as much affected by the religious and cultural changes of those years. This group will watch and discuss seven recent films about this era, selected from the following: The Three Musketeers and its continuation/sequel, The Four Musketeers (with Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Charlton Heston); Admiral (most expensive Dutch epic film, telling the story of naval hero Michiel de Ruyter); Vatel (court life under Louis XIV, with Gerard Depardieu and Uma Thurman); Restoration (court life, the Plague and the Fire under Charles II, with Robert Downey Jr. and Meg Ryan); A Little Chaos (Versailles gardens, with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman); Winstanley (radical social reformers under Cromwell’s English Commonwealth); and Stage Beauty (Nell Gwynn’s English theatre, with Claire Danes and Tom Wilkinson). These will bring to life the century of Rembrandt, Sir Christopher Wren, Molière, and the late Shakespeare.

Facilitators: Cindy Mann has a lifelong interest in the culture of and films about this era. She has co-facilitated several other OLLI study groups, including “The First Churchills” and “Outlander.”

Fred Christensen has presented numerous classes and study groups including “The English Civil Wars,” “The First Churchills,” and “The Thames.”