The Center for Life and Learning:
   Special-Topic Classes

Center for Life and Learning (CLL) special-topic classes bring in experts from the Chicago area to enrich our annual curriculum and provide a flexible avenue of participation. One need not be a CLL member to register. The special-topic classes cover a broad range of topics from politics to bridge to the humanities; come and check us out!

For information about our special-topic classes, contact Sue Hakes at 312.981.3389.

Leonard Bernstein

Mesopotamia: The Land Between the Two Rivers

Basic Spanish

Sense and Sensibility: An Exploration of Jane Austen’s Novel

Basic Music Theory

Introduction to Improvisation

Basic Tap Dance

Reasonable Doubt: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Beginner T'ai Chi

Winter Film Series

Poetry Potpourri

The American Musical 2: Sondheim and His Contemporaries
1957
1990


Leonard Bernstein

Mondays, January 6–March 2
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Led by Stephen Kleiman

$65 for CLL members / $80 for guests


Register online here


This class is devoted to one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century and perhaps of all time. While his greatness is celebrated some 25 years after his death, his life was filled with as much grief and turmoil as accolades and joy.
This class will follow Leonard Bernstein’s life throughout the decades, analyzing his growth as a composer, conductor, educator, philanthropist and social activist, exploring the influence of his life on his music and vice versa.

Stephen Kleiman holds a bachelor’s degree from the Mannes College of Music and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. An orchestra conductor in Europe and former music director of the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C., his compositions have been performed internationally and recently at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti), International Chamber Artists (Chicago), the Longy School (Boston), the Newberry Library (Chicago), Music at Eden's Edge (Beverly Farms, Massachusetts) and the Chicago Danz Theatre.


Mesopotamia:
The Land Between the Two Rivers


Thursdays, January 9–February 27 (no class on January 30 or February 13)
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Led by Brian Smith

 

$60 for CLL members / $75 for guest registrants

Register online here

Mesopotamia occupies an essential place in human history; the growth of the earliest urbanized societies, the development of writing, religion, astronomy, astrology, scientific inquiry, and the location of humankind’s first empires have inspired and influenced subsequent civilizations to a profound degree. This course outlines the development of the earliest societies in and around the ancient Near East from the fourth millennium BCE to the second century CE.


Brian Smith attended the University of Arkansas, where he earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology and archaeology. Before graduating, he was chosen by the University of Pennsylvania to excavate in India, Thailand, and repeated trips to Egypt where he served as Chief Ceramicist with the joint Yale/Institute of Fine Arts, New York. Brian received a master's in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis with a concentration in ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology, including the classic forms of the hieroglyphic script. He concluded his education at the University of Chicago, where he is currently employed in the Graham School teaching courses in ancient Egyptian culture, Near Eastern civilizations, and ancient religions.

 

Basic Spanish

Tuesdays, January 14–March 31 (no class on February 25 or March 3)
10:30–11:30 a.m. Led by Susan Nusbaum

$65 CLL members / $80 guests

Register online here

This beginning conversation class is designed for anyone who would like to learn, or continue learning, basic conversational Spanish. Open both to newcomers and those who took the class in the fall, emphasis will be on using and repeating the spoken word. The class will also include basic grammar skills taught and some basic reading and writing.


Goals for the class are to work hard and to have fun. The focus of the lessons will be immersion in the language, which means that students will have activities other than just speaking in the classroom. Students will be exposed to movies and television in Spanish. Occasionally the class will venture out into the Spanish-speaking community, to museums and restaurants, to enhance learning. There will be Spanish-speaking guests in the class, and students will have opportunities for one-on-one conversations.


At the beginning of the class, students will be asked why they would like to learn Spanish and what they want to learn, and the class will be adapted to meet those needs.


Susan Nusbaum is a former teacher and administrator in CPS. She retired from full time work in 2012, the last 25 years at Wells High School. Upon retiring, Susan was a consultant at Wells High School, working on a project to raise four million dollars to build a soccer and baseball field at the school, which was completed in 2018. Since then she has been a Spanish teacher in the CAPE (adult continuing ed.) program at Northeastern Illinois University and Senior Program at National Louis University, and a student teaching supervisor at National Louis University and at Northeastern Illinois University. Susan received her B.S. in Spanish at NEIU, an MA in bilingual education at Governors State University, an M.A. in School Administration at NEIU, and an Ed.D in School Leadership at Loyola University.

 

Sense and Sensibility:
An Exploration of Jane Austen’s Novel


Tuesdays, January 14–28
1:45–3:00 p.m. Led by Jeff Nigro


$35 for CLL members / $50 for guests

Register online here

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel (1811) but was begun much earlier. On the surface, it concerns two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as their family moves to a new home and the sisters themselves struggle with romantic entanglements. More deeply, the novel is Austen’s most thoughtful and sensitive exploration of the right way to reconcile reason and emotion, and the challenging balance between doing what is best for yourself and doing what is best for the people around you.


Jeffrey Nigro has had a professional relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago for over thirty years, first as a staff lecturer, then as Director of Adult Programs, and currently as a Research Associate in the Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art. Jeff also serves as President of the Classical Art Society of the Art Institute and teaches adult education seminars at the Newberry Library.

 

Basic Music Theory

Wednesdays, January 15–29
10:00–11:30 a.m. Led by Stephen Kleiman

$35 for CLL members / $50 for guests

Register online here

Clefs, time signatures, key signatures, scales, rhythms, music notation: this class will examine these and many other foundational music concepts to help participants develop their musical knowledge and increase their listening and concert going enjoyment. In addition, we will explore the make-up of musical ensembles: the string quartet, woodwind quintet, symphony orchestra, and symphonic band.


Stephen Kleiman holds a bachelor’s degree from the Mannes College of Music and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. An orchestra conductor in Europe and former music director of the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C., his compositions have been performed internationally and recently at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti), International Chamber Artists (Chicago), the Longy School (Boston), the Newberry Library (Chicago), Music at Eden's Edge (Beverly Farms, Massachusetts) and the Chicago Danz Theatre.

 

Introduction to Improvisation

Wednesdays, January 15–March 4
1:30–2:30 p.m.
Led by: Ron Tolisano

$60 for CLL members / $75 for guests

Register online here

Improvisation can be fun for anyone. In this class you will learn basic guidelines for improvisation. Through games and class activities, we will explore listening and communication skills, connecting with others, and how to create interesting characters.


Ron Tolisano is a Chicago resident who has been involved in the improv community for the past ten years. He has a B.A. from Western Illinois University and an M.S.W. from Loyola Universitu Chicago. He has taken classes at Second City and Annoyance Theatre. He currently teaches improvisation at the Chicago Cultural Center and at the Harold Washington Library Center- Chicago Public Library.

 

Basic Tap Dance

Thursdays, January 16–March 26
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Led by Susan Fay

$80 for CLL members / $95 for guests

Register online here

If you can walk, you can take this class! Unleash your inner Shirley Temple, have fun, and work those feet and ankles in this basic tap class. Our tap class will teach/review the fundamental steps of tap. We’ll start with taps, heel drops and flaps and progress to simple combination steps and longer phrases. The class will gradually develop our balance, agility and cognitive skills. Feel free to repeat the class as often as you wish!

Susan Fay has an M.A. in Dance Education from Northwestern University and is a certified Silver Sneakers instructor. She is also a professional actor, having worked with theaters such as Lookingglass Theatre Company, the Court Theatre, Harftord Stage Company, Montana Shakespeare Theater and many more.

Tap shoes required. These are available at Motion Unlimited, beginning at $36.00

 

Reasonable Doubt:
Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Mondays, January 27–February 17
2:45–4:00 p.m. Led by Jeremy Pfaff

$40 CLL members / $55 CLL guest registrants

Register online here

The works of Shakespeare are undoubtedly the most performed plays in Western history, and Shakespeare himself is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the history of the English language. Tradition holds that a William Shakspere of Stratford is the author of Shakespeare’s works, though for centuries many have found cause to doubt that the man from Stratford actually wrote the works attributed to him. But if he didn’t write them, who did? In this course we will discuss some of the alternative candidates for authorship—Marlowe, Bacon, Oxford, and others—the traditional Stratfordian argument, and consider the impact of the Shakespearean authorship debate on our ideas of authorship, “genius,” education, and more.

Jeremy Pfaff is a Chicago-based actor and acting coach. He has worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Sideshow Theatre Company, and Raven Theatre, among others, and appeared on NBC’s “Chicago Med.” Jeremy received his M.F.A. in acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and his B.A. in literature from Biola University. He currently lives in Rogers Park with his wife and their two sons.

 

Beginner T'ai Chi

Tuesdays, February 4–April 21
2:00–2:45 p.m. Led by Hau Kum Kneip

Please note this class is limited to 18 registrants

$85 for CLL members / $100 for guest registrants

Register online here

T'ai Chi Chuan is an effective exercise for anyone seeking to enhance balance, strength, and coordination. It is made up of a fluid series of postures joined with deep breathing exercises. In this class, beginning students will learn the history and fundamentals of T'ai Chi Chuan and will be prepared to join the intermediate class upon completion of the beginner series.

Hau Kum Kneip studied with Chinese T'ai Chi masters in Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, and Hawaii beginning in 1978. She has taught T'ai Chi Chuan at the CLL since 1995 and focuses on increasing balance, strength, and focus in her students.


Winter Film Series

To make those dark days of winter a little more bearable, come check out some recent films sure to be mentioned in the upcoming awards season!

Wednesdays, February 19–March 25
1:45–4:00 p.m.

Free, open to all 60 and older, no RSVP necessary

Wednesday, February 19
Rocketman (2019)

The epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years, and his transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar. Set to his most beloved songs, the movie follows a small-town boy who became an iconic pop music figure. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. (2 hours, 1 min)

Wednesday, February 26
Maiden (2019)

In 1989, Tracy Edwards leads the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race, a grueling yachting competition that covers 33,000 miles and lasts nine months. (1 hour, 37 min)

Wednesday, March 4
The Report (2019)

In a thriller based on actual events and starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening, and Jon Hamm, an idealistic Senate staffer leads an investigation into the CIA’s post-9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program, uncovering the lengths to which the agency went to hide a brutal secret from the American public. (1 hour, 59 min)

Wednesday, March 11
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

The film centers on the efforts of an African-American man, Jimmie, to reclaim his childhood home, a Victorian house in the Fillmore District built by his grandfather. The New York Times called it “an indelibly beautiful story of love, family and loss in America from two childhood friends turned filmmakers.” A New York Times Critic’s Pick. (2 hours)

Wednesday, March 18
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019)

This artful and intimate meditation on legendary storyteller Toni Morrison examines her life, her work, and the powerful themes she confronted throughout her literary career. The New York Times said that “(a)n informative, admiring documentary is brought alive by the charisma and brilliance of its subject.” (2 hours)

Wednesday, March 25
Yesterday (2019)

This romantic comedy stars Himesh Patel as struggling musician Jack Malik, who, after an accident, finds himself the only person who remembers the Beatles. Taking advantage of this, he appropriates the Beatles’ songs and becomes famous. (1 hour, 56 min)

 

Poetry Potpourri

Thursdays, February 27–March 26
2:30–3:45 p.m. Led by Barbara Lanctot

$45 for CLL members / $60 for guests

Register online here

Beloved American poet Emily Dickinson said, "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." Come blow your top in this enjoyable survey course, a feast for poetry lovers as well as for people who think they don't like poetry. Note: Especially recommended for those who had an unsatisfactory experience with poetry back in their schooldays.

Barbara Lanctot, teacher, writer, editor, has an M.A. in literature from the University of Detroit. She fell in love with poetry during a time of teenage angst, when she discovered the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. She taught the CLL course "Poetry of the U.S. Poets Laureate" and gave a Midday Lecture on the Library of Congress.

 

The American Musical 2:
Sondheim and His Contemporaries
19571990

Thursdays, March 5–April 2, no class on 3/19
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Led by John Clum

$50 for CLL members / $65 for guests

Register online here

The course will begin with the last great masterpiece of what has been called the golden age of the American musical, Gypsy. Subsequent classes will cover the development of the concept musical as epitomized by Cabaret and the career of Stephen Sondheim.

John Clum is Professor Emeritus of Theater Studies and English at Duke University. He is the author of eleven books and numerous essays on modern and contemporary theatre and film, as well as a director of theater and opera and produced playwright and librettist. He is currently Board President of the Raven Theatre in Chicago.




For more information about the Center for Life and Learning, contact Susan Quaintance (312.981.3386), Director of the Center for Life and Learning.