My head is full of ideas when I leave this class; I can’t wait to come back next week.

Evergreen Forum: Fall 2020 Course List

Evergreen Forum corporate sponsors for fall 2020:
NightingaleNJ Eldercare Navigators,
Penn Medicine Princeton Health & Home Health,
and Team Toyota of Princeton

Registration opens August 4, 2020

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If the course of your choice is full, please add your name to our waitlist.

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(Click on course title for full course description)

ADVENTURES IN GEOLOGY

Leader: Lincoln Hollister
Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 22 through November 10
Maximum: 30 seats

The four to five topics will include the adventures in overcoming exceptional logistic constraints in order to accomplish scientific objectives. Topics include (1) the Apollo explorations of the moon; (2) the geology of Princeton; (3) the discovery of a new form of matter, the quasicrystal; (4) the formation of continental crust in British Columbia and Alaska; and (5) the origin of the Himalayas.


THE ART OF THE SONNET

Leader: Dr. Peter M. Smith
Fridays: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 6 weeks: September 25 through October 29
Maximum: 18 seats

The sonnet remains one of the most vigorous poetic forms. What gives the sonnet its power? This course will first analyze the basic elements of the sonnet and their importance. Next, we will review the many mysteries surrounding Shakespeare’s sonnets and will study the best of these sonnets for content and meaning. We will discuss the history of the sonnet through some of the greatest sonnets written from Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, and Browning, to the modern sonneteers such as Millay and Yeats. Our emphasis will be on developing an appreciation for the art form. The format will be informal and interactive, with participation and readings encouraged. Finally, class participants will be encouraged to discuss their own favorites, which may be their own originals.


CASE STUDIES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leader: Stuart Kurtz
Mondays: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 6 weeks: September 21 to November 2 (no class on September 28)
Maximum: 20 seats

This course focuses on how science and technology can go wrong. Ideally science is a self- correcting process, but like all human processes it is subject to pressures of political influence, self-promotion, and outright fraud resulting in pseudoscience, bad science, and ignoring contradictory evidence. Examples can be seen in Lysenkoism in Soviet agriculture, and Velikovsky’s catastrophism. Technology, too, has the self-correcting mechanisms of professional standards and past experience. Examples of technology gone wrong include cold fusion (promoting bad ideas), the Chernobyl disaster (political control of technology), the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse (extending design past experience), and the Haber-Bosch process (unintended consequences). Science and technology have been successful because of learning from, and the understanding of, their failures. These are fascinating stories.


DIPLOMACY: IMPACT AND STRATEGIES

Leader: Robert Ross
Tuesdays: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., 8 weeks: September 22 through November 10
Maximum: 18 seats

The first half of the course will focus on five key diplomatic negotiations that will show how the Western world evolved from a universal state and universal religion at the time of Charlemagne’s coronation in the year 800 into today’s global political and economic system. The five key negotiations are the Peace of Augsburg (1555), the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the Congress of Vienna (1815), the Versailles Treaty (1919), and the Atlantic Charter (1941). Each agreement is associated with a major advance in the world order. The second half of the course will first analyze the distinct diplomatic strategies of four countries: Britain, France, Russia, and the United States. Second, we will review three non-traditional diplomatic initiatives with which the lecturer is personally familiar. Finally, the last class will give each participant the opportunity to propose what America’s foreign policy priorities should be for the next generation based on what has been learned in the course. The course will be based on lectures with active class discussion. Reading assignments will include Wikipedia articles, which will provide a short historical background for each lecture.


ELIZABETH STROUT’S LINKED SHORT STORIES

Leader: Lois Marie Harrod
Wednesdays: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 8 weeks: September 23 through November 11
Maximum: 15 seats

This discussion course for avid readers will explore Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout’s use of inter-related short stories to create complex novels of character and place. Her voice is compelling and her themes (love, marriage, infidelity, terrorism, aging, art, depression, poverty, anger) diverse. In Olive Kittredge, Olive Again, Anything Is Possible, and I Am Lucy Barton, Strout creates her versions of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg Ohio: Crosby, Maine, and Amgash, Illinois. She treats her complicated and difficult characters with compassion, understanding, and humor.


FASCISM: THEORIES, PRACTICES, AND REACTIONS

Leader: Martin Oppenheimer
Mondays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 6 weeks: October 5 through November 9
Maximum: 16 seats

Fascism: its roots, ideas, practices, and the opposition to it have been the subjects of intense controversy for over a century. Theories about fascism and its support also continue to be debated. An exploration of these issues is by no means out of date, given the growth of forces that some associate with fascism around the world. Each session will begin with a short presentation providing background on some aspect of the topic. Leads to several books and articles available online will be provided, and some films may be recommended for home viewing.


FINISHING SCHOOL: TWO NOVELS

Leader: Lynne Cullinane
Thursdays: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., 8 weeks: September 24 through November 12
Maximum: 15 seats

Jane Gardam’s novel Old Filth was published in 2004. Elizabeth Strout’s novel Olive, Again appeared fifteen years later, in 2019. The first is British, set in England and Asia. The second is American, set in rural Maine. They have in common two vividly memorable characters nearing the end of their lives. They are in one sense finishing school as they absorb life’s final lessons. They are also in the finishing school of life. Poetry and excerpts from memoirs will round out the education.


THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

Leader: Kay Widmer
Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 6 weeks: September 22 through October 27
Maximum: 25 seats

The focus of this course will be a study of the science behind the discovery of the social network (the “wood wide web”) between trees in the forest. How does this network allow trees to develop survival strategies that can be passed on to their offspring? Should the forest be considered a super organism? Who are the hackers of the web? How do trees help each other to survive? The text for the course will include discussions of parts of The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben in addition to other readings provided by the instructor. The course will be a blend of lecture and discussion. Due to COVID-19 there will be no field trip to local forests.


GEOGRAPHICAL LINKS – HIGHLIGHTS

Leader: Helen Goddard
Thursdays: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 6 weeks: September 24 through October 29
Maximum: 25 seats

This course will be the last in the series “Geographical Links” which started in 2004. It will feature highlights from previous courses interwoven with new material. Highlights will be taken from continents, oceans, and islands, incorporating physical and human geography with some history thrown in. The aim is to enhance understanding of and interest in our global environment. Participants will be invited to submit their own highlights: whether a local phenomenon, or something curious or spectacular seen on their travels. Geography is very visual, and given the lack of suitable textbooks, a power point presentation is essential.


JANE AUSTEN 2: NOVELS AND FILMS

Leader: Dianne Sadoff
Tuesdays: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 8 weeks: September 22 through November 10
Maximum: 20 seats

This course will cover Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. The course will trace Austen’s take on “the disinherited daughter,” a story she inherited from eighteenth-century predecessors and updated. Course members will ask how the novels address and seek to resolve anxieties about the entailed paternal estate, the financial precarity of daughters, and the necessity of marriage. Participants will ask how the films “faithful” to the novels (Andrew Davies’ Northanger Abbey, 2007; Simon Langton’s Pride and Prejudice, 1995; and Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park, 1999) engage twentieth-century audiences. Class work will be literary, cinematic, and historical, considering how the history of marriage—and Austen’s own feelings about wedding—shaped these narratives.


THE LADY WAS A SPY: WOMEN IN THE SECRET WORLD OF INTELLIGENCE AND ESPIONAGE FROM WORLD WAR I TO THE PRESENT

Leader: Lloyd Gardner
Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 24 though November 12
Maximum: unlimited

From World War I women have played key roles in the clandestine Game of Nations. Gertrude Bell was arguably more important than Lawrence of Arabia, for example, in the shaping of the Middle East in the post-World War I era. World War II saw several women operating spy networks and carrying out missions in occupied France, including Virginia Hall, whom the Nazis called the “Limping Lady of Lyon.” Now a spy novelist, Stella Rimington was the first woman to head MI-6. And secret agent Valerie Plame was at the center of the effort to silence critics of the Iraq War.


MIGRATIONS: CONTINUING STORIES

Organized By:  Barbara Kirsh, chair, Lynne Cullinane, Art Firestone, Elaine Jacoby, Sandy Kurinsky, and Judy Walzer
Wednesdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 9 weeks: September 23 through November 18
Maximum: 60

The Fall 2019 course, Migrations: More Than a Border Story, filled up quickly and was deemed a great success. This second Migrations series is suitable for new and previous participants. The course will cover a variety of topics related to migrations, including whether we can call the earliest moves of our ancestors “migrations,” the legal and political context of migrations, along with the rich contributions to music, poetry, food, film, and art of current and past migrations. We will also hear about refugee resettlement to the Princeton area. Each week’s topic will focus on one aspect of migration and be presented by different experts in a variety of formats such as lecture, panel discussion, and a virtual field trip to the Princeton University Art Museum.


MORE PLAYS OFF THE PAGE:  ANTONY & CLEOPATRA 

LEADER: Barbara Herzberg
Wednesdays: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., 8–10 weeks: Beginning September 23
Maximum: 20

Shakespeare wrote Antony and Cleopatra at the top of his form dramatically and poetically…a love story between a man and a woman at the pinnacle of power. The play goes from Egypt to Rome, from battlefield to castle, plumbing the depths of these characters through unforgettable poetry. Passion conflicts with rule; exotic Egypt conflicts with practical Rome; past conflicts with present. Participants should be prepared to get up from their seats, put those great words in their mouths and try to see what the playwright is telling them to DO. Neither acting experience nor familiarity with Caesar and Cleopatra are necessary.


PENELOPE FITZGERALD’S FICTION

Leader: Judith Wooldridge
Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 5 weeks: September 24 through October 29 (no class on October 15)
Maximum: 13

This course will focus on the English writer Penelope Fitzgerald. We will read and discuss five of her novels as well as dipping into Hermione Lee’s biography Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life and reading selections from her letters. The novels will be The Bookshop, Offshore, The Beginning of Spring, The Gate of Angels, and The Blue Flower. We’ll discuss the sources of her material (autobiographical and historical), how she approaches her subjects and structures her work, the nature of her principal characters, and the way they think and talk.


RECONCILING PERSPECTIVES: A STUDY OF THE VIETNAM WAR

Leader: Robert Nolan
Fridays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 25 through November 13
Maximum: unlimited

Vietnam. Its war evoked passions that defined our generation. Some fought in Vietnam against communism; many fought simply to survive. As Americans fought, Americans argued about the warʼs purpose and whether it justified the killing. Over 58,000 Americans and approximately 2,000,000 Vietnamese died in the war, even as Americans perceived we were not fighting to win. While the killing continued, the enemy offered to accommodate America’s willingness to fight for however long we wanted. Ultimately our government tired of such accommodation and America withdrew, with many questioning what really happened throughout the war, and why. This course addresses these subjects.


RONALD REAGAN’S AMERICA: THE CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION AND THE WELFARE STATE

Leader: Stanley Katz
Mondays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 6 weeks: September 21 through November 2 (no class on September 28)
Maximum: unlimited

The current pandemic crisis has dramatically underscored the vulnerability of a majority of American citizens to economic insecurity. The New Deal and the Great Society were the most recent attempts to lay the groundwork for a welfare state in the United States. But with the election of Ronald Reagan, the Republican party did its best to destroy what existed of a welfare state. This course will study how and why that story unfolded as it did.


THE ROOTS OF WESTERN ART: FROM CAVE PAINTINGS OF 35,OOO BC TO CONSTANTINOPLE IN 350 AD

Leader: Wendy Worth
Wednesdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 23 through November 11
Maximum: 50

Ever wondered how or where art began? Come explore the roots of art from the prehistoric cave paintings of the hunter-gatherers of more than 35,000 years ago to the mosaics of Constantinople. Discover the earliest writing in the Mesopotamian Valley and the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt. Look at the monumental architecture of the Ziggurat of Ur and the pyramids of Egypt. See art as reflected in the myths of prehistory in Crete and continue to the heroic culture of classical Greece and its imitator Rome. Then stop at Constantinople in 350 AD. Trace how artists struggled to represent reality throughout time with art historian Wendy Worth, who taught last year’s popular “Understanding Contemporary Art.”


SCIENCE IN THE NEWS

Leader: Bob Robinson
Fridays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 25 through November 13.
Maximum: 50

Science in the News is a course designed for all those who wish to become more informed about current scientific and medical topics. It covers a wide range of fields while striving to remain easily accessible to people of varying backgrounds and current knowledge. A variety of sources are used, and pertinent references are provided for each of the topics covered. All are welcome, regardless of experience. Presentations by class participants are encouraged, but not required.


THE SUPREME COURT AND NATIONALISM

Leader: Philip Carchman
Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 22 through November 10
Maximum: unlimited

The rise of nationalism is a part of the fabric of American history. What is nationalism, and how does it manifest itself? In exploring the answer to these questions, this course focuses on United States Supreme Court decisions that reflect nationalism and its impact on the body politic. The course will use Harvard professor and The New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore’s book, This America, as an important resource. The issues of immigration, eugenics, slavery, birthright citizenship, religion, and patriotism prove relevant to the inquiry, and the course will explore Supreme Court decisions in these areas.


SWANN’S WAY: BEGINNING THE SEARCH FOR LOST TIME

Leader: Lee Harrod
Wednesdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 8 weeks: September 23 through November 11
Maximum: 30

In Search of Lost Time (1912–1928) by Marcel Proust (1871–1922) is one of the lasting artistic achievements of the twentieth century. The course will concentrate on Swann’s Way, the first volume, which sets out many of the characters, ideas, and subtle templates of human behavior that make the Search so rewarding. Swann’s Way contains the desperate need for Mama’s kiss, the famous madeleine scene, the cautionary tale of Swann’s love for Odette de Crecy, and some delicious social comedy. This course should equip readers to scale a Mount Everest of twentieth-century literature.
Note on the text: There is only one required text. The course will be using the new translation of Swann’s Way by Lydia Davis (Penguin Classics Deluxe, ISBN 978-0-14-243796-4). It is important that all participants have the same edition, with the same words and page numbers.


VOTING RIGHTS AND THE 2020 ELECTIONS

Leader: Elaine Jacoby
Fridays: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 weeks: September 25 through November 13
Maximum: 35

Voting rights have been a hot issue for several years, especially in the 2018 mid-term elections and now during the Covid-19 pandemic. After briefly reviewing the history of voting rights in the US, this course will focus on current issues such as the vote-by-mail movement, voting restrictions facing whole categories of citizens, and the continuing role of gerrymandering. The course will also follow developments in the Presidential campaigns and identify and track the progress of some key Senate and House races. The active involvement of class members will be important to this process.

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