Academic Year 2017 – 2018 Courses



Our courses provide opportunities for our members to delve more deeply into fascinating subjects, hear from outstanding teachers, and have fun as well: no exams, no grades, but ample opportunities to participate in discussions.

SpringBirdsAroundMontereyBay04092015.jpg
Spring Birds Around Monterey Bay, 2015
The courses vary a great deal in length, but the donation we ask for each course is the same — $20/person/course. Because the lecturers are not compensated (except for the pleasure of having truly interested and interesting students), your contributions are used for scholarships for re-entry and transfer students.

For all course registrations, you will receive an email acknowledging your acceptance in the course. For on-line registrations, it will be automatically generated and sent shortly after you register. For mail-in registration, we manually send you an email confirmation. In either case, later you will receive a letter from the university acknowledging your donation.

You will not be charged if you can't enroll (because the course is full), and if you sent a check it will be returned.

You must be a OLLI member to sign up for Courses!
Courses are limited to 2017–2018 members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCSC. If you wish to join, go to our home page and use the section titled Join OLLI at UCSC or Renew Your Membership.



If instead of registering for courses on-line, you want to print, fill-out, and mail a paper registration form, then click here to print the registration form. Download the form to your computer, print it, fill it out, and mail it as directed on the form.

Courses Table of Contents

Click on links, below, for details:
1809 - WORLD AFFAIRS SPRING 2018 "Developing World" Africa, Latin America, Asia, Middle East
1810 - Celebrating Great Scenes from Favorite Operas
1811 - Espressivo, Winter and Spring 2018 concerts
1812 - Cosmology
1813 - The Holocaust:The Destruction of European Jewry
1814 - Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2018
1815 - Genesis Stories
1816 - Two Works by Melville: Bartleby, The Scrivener Benito Cereno
1817 - Tom Jones and the Origins of the Novel
1818 - The Beauty of Mathematics: Square The Circle, Trisect an Angle, Double the Cube
1819 - An Introduction to Wagner's Ring
1820 - Food and BioChemistry

1809 - WORLD AFFAIRS SPRING 2018 "Developing World" Africa, Latin America, Asia, The Middle East
January 23, February 20, April 24 10-noon.
Location: Fellowship Hall, Peace United Church, 900 High St.
Instructor: Ronnie Gruhn

We are very fortunate to have Ronnie Gruhn, Professor Emerita of Politics at UCSC, as one of our teachers. She has a passionate and undiminished interest in reading, writing, and talking about world affairs. Her courses offer powerful insights into what is happening today. Ronnie has been very generous in sharing her knowledge with OLLI members, and her past courses have been exceedingly well attended.
Please car pool if possible. The great crowd makes parking difficult.

1810 - Celebrating Great Scenes from Favorite Operas
February 5, 12, 19, 26, March 5 1-3 p.m.
Location: Lounge, Peace United Church, 900 High St.
Instructor: Miriam Ellis

Miriam, opera-lover extraordinaire, will be putting the spotlight on various unforgettable scenes in opera--their structure, function, and, above all, musical and dramatic impact. She will look at excerpts from a group of popular operas to analyze what had made them and certain of their scenes endure over time. She will highlight specific elements within the scenes, consider their textual and musical components, and discuss why certain of their arias or ensemble pieces are so beloved among opera buffs. She will also note those that have been adopted into popular culture by film, ads, or the media.

Miriam Ellis, Ph.D, has offered great admired classes for Lifelong Learners and OLLI for many years, both before and since her retirement from UCSC, where she taught French language and theater, as well as other courses, for over 30 years. In 2001, with Language colleagues, she founded The UCSC International Playhouse (now the Miriam Ellis International Playhouse), which will be presenting its 18th annual season of multilingual theater in May, 2018

1811 - Espressivo, Winter and Spring 2018 concerts
February 8, April 5, April 12 10-noon
Location: Music Room, Peace United Church, 900 High St.
Instructor: Michel Singher

OLLI’s special relationship with Maestro Michel Singher and his ensemble — Espressivo — A Small Intense Orchestra — will continue for two concerts in 2018. Our members have been thrilled with the four Espressivo concerts and with the four courses Maestro Singher has offered to OLLI members.

This year we will have three classes, where Michel will offer insight into the music Espressivo will offer in two concerts a few days after our classes.
February 15th Concert
In February they will be performing Gustav Mahler's spiritually ambitious, yet charming, Fourth Symphony, in a new reduction for 13 players. Brilliant young soprano Maya Kherani reports on life in heaven.
April 15th Concert
In April the concert will feature a tryptich of works by Beethoven ("Rondino"), Schubert's friend Franz Lachner ("Nonet"), and the suave and witty Jean Francaix ("Dixtuor")

1812 - Cosmology
February 14, 21, 28, March 7, 14, 21 10-noon
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St
Instructor: Roger Knacke

The course will be a discussion of transformative discoveries in cosmology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Background in science is not necessary.

Meeting 1. Galaxies and the Universe
2. Expansion of the Universe
3. Cosmic Background Radiation
4. Creation of the Elements
5. Cosmic Inflation
6. Dark Matter, Dark Energy, The Multiverse

Dr. Roger Knacke is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Penn State Erie, and retired as Director of the School of Science in 2010. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and has held positions at SUNY Stony Brook, Max Planck Institute for Kernphysik Heidelberg, NASA Ames, NASA Huntsville, and a postdoctoral position at UC Santa Cruz. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers on interstellar and circumstellar matter and planetary atmospheres. His courses for OLLI have been enlightening, interesting, and even entertaining.

1813 - The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry
June 5, 12,14, 19, 21, and 26 10-noon
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
Instructors: Peter Kenez, Murray Baumgarten

We are privileged to have a course based on the acclaimed UCSC class that Murray and Peter taught on campus for over three decades. It will trace the destruction of the Jews and Jewish life in Europe by Nazi Germany, drawing on history, literature, and film.

Peter Kenez is a native of Hungary and a Holocaust survivor. He is a professor emeritus at UC Santa Cruz, where he taught Russian and modern European History since 1966.

Murray Baumgarten is a distinguished emeritus professor of English & contemporary literature and a founding director of The Dickens Project at UC Santa Cruz. He is the recipient of a campus award for excellence in teaching.

1814 - Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2018
March 27, April 3, 10, 17 10-noon
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
Instructor: Michael Warren

We are fortunate to again have Prof. Michael Warren, a very knowledgeable and vastly entertaining Shakespeare scholar, presenting a course for us. He will be discussing the two plays that Santa Cruz Shakespeare will be presenting next summer. The plays will be announced before the beginning of this course. His courses for OLLI for the previous seven years have been enthusiastically praised by our members.

The four lectures will be devoted to the plays of the 2018 Santa Cruz Shakespeare season: Love’s Labour’s Lost and Romeo and Juliet. Both plays date from the point in Shakespeare’s early career when he established himself in London as the major playwright of the 1590s. Love’s Labour’s Lost is a witty comedy of male-female relations, a work of extraordinary originality and verbal sophistication. Romeo and Juliet is a more famous and popular play, a tragedy of young lovers amid civil conflict in a Renaissance Italian city.

We will devote two meetings to each play. Members of the course should read the first four acts of Love’s Labour’s Lost for the first class.

Michael Warren is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at UCSC. He serves as Textual Consultant and dramaturge for Santa Cruz Shakespeare. He is a past president of the Shakespeare Association of America.

1815 - Genesis Stories
April 4, 11, 18 10-noon
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
Instructor: Gildas Hamel

This class will present the best known stories of Genesis 1--11 in three meetings: the creation of the world and the Garden of Eden (Gen 1--2:4a; 2:4b--3:24), Cain and Abel (Gen 4), the flood and the tower of Babel (Gen 6--9; 11). We will discuss the historical and mythological background and wonder how different, and why, these narratives were from the tales told by the neighbors of Israel. Each meeting will invite broad discussions of the meanings of these episodes and their significance for ancient writers and interpreters as well as for all of us who may be interested in the notions of creation, fault, violence, sacrifice, and political power. I will also present some of the images associated with these passages.

Professor Gildas Hamel, a true Renaissance man, was born in Brittany; he taught high school in Jerusalem in 1966–68 while attending courses at the École Biblique where he fell in love with scholarship. He became an instructor in French at UCSC in 1974, got a Ph.D. in History of in 1983, and continued to teach French as well as classical languages and history. His classes for OLLI have been insightful and historically fascinating.

1816 - Two Works by Melville, Bartleby, The Scrivener Benito Cereno
May 8, 15, 22 and 29 10-noon
Location: Lounge, Peace United Church. 900 High St.
Instructor: Forrest Robinson

A close analysis of two classic short tales by the great American master. We’ll start with an overview of Melville’s life and work, followed by two sessions each on the stories. This should be lots of fun.

Forrest Robinson is a Distinguished Professor of Humanities Emeritus. He taught at UCSC for 44 years in literature and American Studies. He has written extensively about Melville and has offered both graduate and undergraduate courses on him and his work. His past courses for OLLI--one on Melville and the other on Mark Twain were received enthusiastically by OLLI members.

1817 - Tom Jones and the Origins of the Novel

March 12, 19, 26, , April 2 10 am -12pm
Location Museum of Art and History 705 Front Stree
Instructor William Park

There are many works of fiction from the seventeenth and early eighteenth century that we would today term novels. But it was not until the appearance of Richardson’s Pamela (1740) the reading public became aware of what they termed a “new species of writing.” At this point Henry Fielding brought his own extraordinary talents to play. In this course we will examine his masterpiece, Tom Jones (1749). Never out of print, it has oftenbeen misinterpreted as in the Academy Award movie version of the 1960s. We will give this book a close reading, exploring the sexual, social, political, and religious themes artfully woven together to create what this writer believes is the greatest comic novel of all time.

For those students signing up for my course, I suggest that if they don't already possess a copy of the novel, they should get the Penguin Classics paperback version which has excellent notes. Available on Amazon and other places.

Bill Park is an Emeritus Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught for many years. He received his PHD in Eighteenth Century English Literature from Columbia University. He has written extensively about literature and film. (Look him up.) We are fortunate that he has moved to Santa Cruz and is eager to share his knowledge with us.

1818 - The Beauty of Mathematics: Square The Circle, Trisect an Angle, Double the Cube

May 2, 9, 16, 23 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
Instructor: Peter Farkas

We will study a particular type of problems in elementary geometry: doing constructions with a straightedge and a compass. This type of problems were first asked and solved in antiquity, in Greece. Some construction problems were stated in antiquity, but mathematicians were unable to solve them for hundreds of years. They were finally settled in the 19th century. The aim of this class is to familiarize the listeners with the problems, and to convey the ideas which finally yielded the answers.
We will occasionally give proofs, while being careful not to bore, and not to be too formal. We will often take historical detours.

The only prerequisite to this class is curiosity about these topics. Nothing beyond elementary school mathematics will be assumed.

Course Leader: I am a lapsed mathematician. I have a Master degree in mathematics from the University of Bucharest, Romania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. I started a bumpy academic career as a mathematician, but swerved at some point and became a software engineer. Throughout my software engineering career, my love and awe for mathematics has never cleared from my system. Now, in retirement, I am trying to steer back to mathematics a bit, doing what is most pleasant: solving little problems, and talking about subjects in Mathematics.

1819 - An Introduction to Wagner's Ring
April 9, 16, 23, 30. May 7, 14 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St
Instructor: Phyllis Neumann

“An Introduction to Wagner’s Ring,” is intended for those who have never experienced a “Ring Cycle,” or who have felt too intimidated by its length, complexity and cost to attend a live performance. It is also for those already familiar with “The Ring” who want to delve a bit more deeply into the story, the music, the characters and the leitmotifs.

Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” based on Norse mythology, is an extraordinary mini-series of four operas. It is considered to be the greatest work of art ever written, taking opera to new heights. It consists of four operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Das Rheingold begins with the creation of the world and Götterdämmerung ends with the destruction of the gods. It includes gods, goddesses, Rhinemaidens, Valkyries, dwarfs, a dragon, a gold ring, a magic sword, a magic Tarnhelm, magic fire, and much more. It also includes greed, love, incest, punishment, betrayal and murder.

Phyllis Neumann has taught this course many times, speaking in a language that is easy to understand, as well as entertaining. Using PowerPoint she incorporates Arthur Rackham’s famous “Ring” illustrations to help describe the synopsis and breaks down the main leitmotifs (musical themes) so that you can better understand the complexity of Wagner’s music. She also includes audio and video excerpts from various “Ring” productions.

1820 - Food and BioChemistry

May 5, 12, 19, 26 10:30 a.m. to noon
Location: Physical Sciences Building, Room 240, UCSC Campus
Instructor: Barry Bowman

Our food is composed of thousands of different kinds of chemicals. We use these chemicals to make the parts of our body and to provide the energy to move, to stay warm and to think. In this course we will examine the chemical differences in different types of food. What are vitamins and what do they do in our body? Why does fat have more calories than sugar? What is a calorie? What information can we get from the nutrition labels on packaged food? What is the nature of the “energy” we get from our food. These are some of the questions we will address. A background in science is not expected for this course and the lectures will be aimed at a general audience. (This course will be similar to the course taught in 2017, but expanded to four lectures.)

Free Parking is available in the Core We Parking Structure




Courses given, academic year 2017 - 2018

Courses given, academic year 2016 - 2017

Courses given, academic year 2015 – 2016

Courses given, academic year 2014 – 2015

Courses given. academic year 2013 – 2014

Courses given, previous academic years