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Fall 2018 Courses

Fall 2018 Classes

Online registration is open for fall 2018 courses.

Special Lecture: Can Ethnic Humor Still be Funny? with Gina Barreca

Special Lecture: Can Ethnic Humor Still be Funny? with Gina Barreca

Thurs., Sept. 20; 11 a.m.–12:30 pm.; Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $20. Register online.

Making humor is a way of making trouble; it makes you the center of attention. Does identifying as part of a particular ethnic group—and using that for humor—give you a weapon, a permission slip, or a self-inflicted wound that’s likely to fester? In other words, what’s the difference between being a protected species and being a target?

Gina Barreca, author of 10 books and editor of 11 others, is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Connecticut and the winner of UConn’s highest award for excellence in teaching. Hailed as “smart and funny” by People magazine and “Very, very funny. For a woman,” by Dave Barry, Gina was deemed a “feminist humor maven” by Ms. Magazine. Novelist Wally Lamb said, “Barreca’s prose, in equal measures, is hilarious and humane." Her weekly columns from The Hartford Courant are now distributed internationally by the Tribune Co. and her work has appeared in most major publications, including The New York TimesThe Independent of LondonThe Chronicle of Higher EducationCosmopolitan, and The Harvard Business Review. Gina is a member of the Friars Club and an honoree of the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame. She is the author most recently of If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?, which was an ELLE Reader’s Prize selection, and her earlier books include It's Not That I'm Bitter, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World, the bestselling They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor, and Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Coeducation in the Ivy League.  

The On and Off-Stage Drama of My Fair Lady with Frank Rizzo

Thurs., Sept. 20, 27; Oct. 4; 2–3:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows: $70. Register online.

Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle are back on Broadway in a major Lincoln Center revival of My Fair Lady, and this new production brings a different sensibility to the show. But this quintessential Golden Age musical had challenges from the very beginning in the '50s.

We'll talk about the surprising history of the show (Mary Martin as Eliza! Noel Coward as Henry!), its legendary world premiere at New Haven's Shubert Theatre (Rex Harrison refused to go on, for starters), and its triumphant Broadway opening. We'll talk about Shaw, Pygmalion, the film versions of the play and musical, and deconstruct the Lerner and Loewe score too.

FRANK RIZZO is a writer/critic for Variety and contributes to The New York Times, American Theatre magazine, the Theatre Development Fund’s Stages website, the Tribune newspapers (Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun), the Connecticut Hearst newspapers (Greenwich Time, Stamford Advocate, Connecticut Post, News-Times), and Fox 61 among other media outlets. For 34 years he was a staff arts writer and theater critic for The Hartford Courant. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in journalism and was a Shubert Fellow in playwriting in graduate school.

The Booker Prize Book Club with Michele Troy

Tues., Sept. 25; Oct. 2, 9; 2–3:30 p.m.; Tues., Oct. 16; 3:30–5 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $100; Fellows: $80. Register online.

Professor Michele Troy invites intrepid readers to join her in reviving the Booker Prize Book Club, to which previous participants have brought rich food for thought and a spirited exchange of ideas. The prestigious Man Booker Prize, launched in 1969, is awarded each year to the “best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK.” Judges include prominent critics, writers, politicians, and actors. This year, the six finalists will be announced on Sept. 20, and the winner on Oct. 16. In the interim, we will take a whirlwind tour of the six nominated novels, reading and discussing one to two novels per week. It is a fast pace, but a friendly environment: we don’t kick anyone out for not keeping up! At the final session, we will match our wits against those of the judges. While Professor Troy will offer a brief presentation of each author to anchor discussions, actual course time will feature you and your own thoughts and questions about the books. We hope this approach brings out armchair critics and enamored readers alike.

MICHELE TROY, professor of English in the University of Hartford’s Hillyer College, holds a PhD from Loyola University of Chicago. Her book Strange Bird: The Albatross Press and the Third Reich, appeared last year to highly positive reviews.

The Lucky Dragon: Hollywood and the Atom Bomb with David Davison

Tues., Oct. 2, 9, 16; 10:30 a.m.–noon; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows: $70. Register online.

From Godzilla to Dr. Strangelove to The Atomic Cafe: How movies and TV reflected and amplified America’s experience of the Cold War. 

With the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, popular culture—along with everything else—was thrust into the Atomic Age. This course will explore how a key definer of American culture, Hollywood, reflected and stoked our hopes, fears, and obsession with the atomic bomb. Through the Cold War and on into the 21st century, from Soviet spies to nukes in the hands of terrorists, the atomic bomb has had a grip on our imagination that still won’t let go.   

This three-part program will follow the development of the Atomic Age through historical milestones and their concurrent Hollywood movie images. The bomb and nuclear energy has been the inspiration for tragedy, comedy, propaganda, melodrama, satire, and more over the years, often a response to current events, and sometimes anticipating them. An "atomic culture" developed during the Cold War as school children learned to duck and cover, scientists fought over the ethics of building more and bigger bombs, and tourists traveled to watch A-bomb tests in Nevada, drinks in hand. Class attendees will have an opportunity to share memories of the time. Was it fun hiding under your school desk? Where were the missile defense sites located in Connecticut? What movies kept you up at night?  

DAVID DAVISON, past president and chief executive officer, and member of the board of directors, American Savings Foundation, New Britain, Conn., has more than 40 years of nonprofit administration, grant making, and fund-raising experience in social services and higher education. He served as the president and CEO of the American Savings Foundation for 16 years, and most recently was the interim president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Davison was vice chancellor for development and alumni relations at the UConn Health Center, and director of development at Yale University School of Medicine. He also has   worked at the national nonprofit organizations Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Jazz in Film with Javon Jackson

Tues., Oct. 2; 3:30–5 p.m.; Fuller F.21
Mon., Oct. 8, 15, 22; 3:30–5 p.m.; Fuller F.343
Cost: $90; Fellows: $70. Register online.

The American art form known as Jazz is well chronicled as a frequent “soundtrack“ to motion pictures and television. This course will examine and discuss that history, through lecture as well as live presentation. There will be particular analysis of Jazz film and television composers, including Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, JJ Johnson, and Terence Blanchard. Please join us for this unique conversation and discussion.

JAVON JACKSON chairs The Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. He gained international prominence touring and recording with drummer Art Blakey as a member of his band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. One of a new generation of musicians blending tradition with neo-jazz, he went on to release 14 recordings as a bandleader, and to record more than 135 CDs with numerous jazz greats. In 2010, the Syracuse International Film Festival commissioned him to compose a full-length score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Lodger. In addition to performing, Jackson is a highly sought-after jazz educator, conducting clinics and lectures at universities across the United States and abroad.

The Art of Orchestration: A Field Guide to Orchestral Instruments and Their Players with Stephen Gryc

Wed., Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24; 10:30—noon; 1877 Club
Cost: $90; Fellows: $70. Register online.

Why do all the first violinists move their bows in the same direction at the same time? Why do oboists spend so much time fiddling with their instruments and so little time playing during a concert? Why are there four horns but only two trumpets on stage? Why is the timpanist called “the second conductor?”

This course is designed for lovers of classical music who wish to deepen their understanding and enjoyment of orchestral concert music. Each session will be devoted to the study of the instruments in one of the four choirs of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The course will concentrate on how orchestral instruments work, how they are played, and what their roles are in the modern symphony orchestra. Every session will include live demonstrations and a performance by a professional musician. The course will be complementary to the 2018–19 seasons of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Hartt Symphony Orchestra. 

STEPHEN MICHAEL GRYC is professor emeritus of music composition at the University of Hartford where he taught for 35 years. Gryc is the composer of the University of Hartford’s official alma mater and athletic fight song. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra commissioned him to compose a concerto for its concertmaster, Leonid Sigal, following its premiere of his trombone concerto written for the principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic. His music has been performed throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia and has been presented at 184 colleges and universities worldwide.   Gryc’s compositions can be heard on compact discs from nine commercial recording companies.

The Medical-Industrial Complex: How Money and Power Sabotaged Patient Care in America and What Can Be Done About It Now with Dr. Mike Magee

Wed., Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24; 1:30–3 p.m.; Moved to Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $100; Fellows: $75. Register online.

Based on research from his new book, Code Blue (Grove Atlantic Press, 2019), medical journalist, Mike Magee, MD, presents this highly visual and interactive discussion that answers the following questions: How did America become the only developed nation to deny universal coverage and health care as a right? Why are our costs the highest while our quality measures remain the lowest? How did health care become a business and what role did WW II play in this evolution? Who's pulling the strings, and who are the villains and heroes in this story? And most importantly, what should we as a country do about it now?

Session 1: The Birth of the Medical-Industrial Complex in America.
Session 2: The Heroes and Villains in 20th Century Health Care.
Session 3: The Role of WWII in Creating American Medicine as We Know It.
Session 4: The Road to Universal Health Care in America.

MIKE MAGEE, MD is an award-winning medical journalist and historian, and the son of a WW II combat physician. A West Hartford resident, he is currently the Visiting Scholar-in-Residence at the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth. He has served as Honorary Master Scholar at NYU, a David Rockefeller Fellow, a Fellow in Humanities at the World Medical Association in Geneva, senior VP at Pennsylvania Hospital, and the director of the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative. He and his wife Trish run the nonprofit Rocking Chair Project, which assists economically disadvantaged moms about to give birth. They have 10 grandchildren, three living in West Hartford.

Exploration and the Search for Authentic Experience with Michael Robinson

Wed., Oct. 3, 10, 17; 3–4:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $80; Fellows: $60. Register online.

What does the explorer learn through the rigors of travel? Is the voyage an opportunity for gaining knowledge about the world, as the work of Pliny, John Mandeville, and Marco Polo suggest? Or does it function, as Plato, Siddhārtha Gautama, and St Francis seemed to think, as a way of learning about oneself? In practice, these two motives for travel—worldly knowledge and self-knowledge—were not mutually exclusive. Three thousand years of travel and exploration literature have combined elements of both. Focusing on journeys from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era, this course considers the real motives driving explorers into the unknown.

MICHAEL ROBINSON is a professor of history at Hillyer College, University of Hartford. He is the author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), winner of the 2008 Book Award for the History of Science in America and The Lost White Tribe: Explorers, Scientists, and the Theory that Changed a Continent (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Robinson has given lectures about his work at the American Museum of Natural History, The Explorers Club, The British Library, the Library of Congress, and NASA headquarters among others.

A Round Up of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 Term with Jilda Aliotta

Wed., Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24; 5:30–7 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $85; Fellows: $75. Register online.

Privacy of cell phones, workers’ rights, and reapportionment—there is no shortage of controversial issues in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2017–18 term. With the 2017 session complete, what are the implications (political and legal) of the decisions handed down, what do they say about the political and legal evolution of the Roberts court, what has been the impact of Justice Neil Gorsuch, and what does the future hold? The four-week class will consist of the following:

Session 1:  An overview of the U.S. Supreme Court and its 2017–18 Term
Session 2:  Significant Decisions of the 2017–18 Term—Part 1
Session 3:  Significant Decisions of the 2017–18 Term—Part 2
Session 4:  Looking Ahead to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018-19 Term

JILDA ALIOTTA is a popular professor in the University of Hartford’s Politics, Economics, and International Studies Department, and is well known among Presidents’ College participants for her thought-provoking commentaries on the U.S. Supreme Court. She teaches classes in law, American politics, and women in politics.

Tick Tick Boom: Three Landmark Years in Popular Music History with Karen Cook

Thurs., Oct. 4, 11, 18; 10–11:30 a.m.; KF Room
Cost: $80; Fellows: $60. Register online.

In a "traditional" approach to popular music history, we might discuss big-name performers, songs, or genres. But a lot of fascinating things happen behind the scenes that have just as much, if not more, of an effect on how popular music develops. These include changes to management, copyright law, or recording technology, and the roles of radio, television, and the internet, and how people have historically determined which songs, artists, or genres were popular. In this course, we will discuss three landmark years—1958, 1971, and 1992—in which many of these factors came to a head, sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly, but in ways that would permanently change the course of popular music history.

KAREN COOK is assistant professor of music history at The University of Hartford's The Hartt School. Her primary specialization is late medieval music theory, and she is currently completing a monograph on developments in musical notation in the fourteenth century. She maintains strong secondary interests in music in television, film, and video games, with special regard to medievalism, or the uses of medieval or medieval-ish things in contemporary media, and in popular music of all eras. She grew up on country music, later discovering the wonders of jazz, doo-wop, Motown, and grunge, and has a particular affinity for 80s and 90s pop music.

The Chemistry of Paper with Laura Pence

Thurs., Oct 11, 18, 25; 2–3:30 pm.; Woods Classroom, Mortensen Library
Cost: $85; Fellows: $65. Register online.

Paper has facilitated the recording and transfer of knowledge for nearly two millennia. It is used for commerce in the form of paper money and checks, for packaging, for cleaning, and for works of art. Underlying the wide variety of paper types is the chemistry that influences the quality, pH, stability, and color of paper. In this class, we will explore the influence of chemistry on the manufacture, recycling, and conservation of paper throughout history.

Laura Pence is a professor of chemistry at the University of Hartford with expertise in environmental chemistry and chemical education. She also represents New England and New York as District I Director on the Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society In 2012–13, Pence spent a year as an ACS/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Science Policy Fellow in the office of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), where her policy portfolio featured natural resources, energy, and environmental issues, with a particular emphasis in the areas of water and forestry. Pence is an outstanding educator, winning the University of Hartford’s Roy E. Larsen award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006, and ranking twice among the top 25 professors nationally in’s annual survey (2014, 2017). 

Gods and Heroes: Greek Art of the Archaic Period with David L. Simon

Tues., Oct. 16, 23, 30; Nov. 6; 1:30–3 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows: $75. Register online.

The art produced in Greece during the Archaic Period includes major achievements of Western culture, works prized both for their beauty and for their spirit. These early Greek works of art demonstrate an increasing concern for the representation of the human form, both in sculpture and in vase painting, at the same time that the development of monumental architecture quickly made advancements in technical, functional, and expressive terms. The sympathetic response to the human condition evident in early Greek art provides an opportunity for modern viewers to appreciate, in addition to issues of artistic form, the political, literary and social concerns of the time, especially as demonstrated by the representations of, and the dedications to, gods and heroes.

DAVID L. SIMON was, until his recent retirement, Ellerton M. Jette professor of art at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. With degrees from Boston University and the University of London, he is a specialist on Spanish art of the Middle Ages. He has published widely on Romanesque art and architecture, and on the history of art in general, and is joint author of Janson’s History of Art.

The Birth, Death, and Hoped-For Resurrection of Objective Truth with Colin McEnroe

Tues., Oct. 16, 23, 30; 4–5:30 p.m.; Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $90; Fellows: $75. Register online.

A long-time journalist and occasional academic takes you on a long walk from David Hume to Wikipedia and Fake news.

COLIN McENROE hosts the daily WNPR show, The Colin McEnroe Show. He is a weekly columnist and blogger for The Hartford Courant and a contributing editor at Men’s Health. He has recently concluded a series of columns for Bicycling magazine. He is the author of three books and one play; his work has appeared on The New York Times Op-Ed page and in Mirabella, Best Life, Cosmopolitan, Forbes FYI, and Mademoiselle. It is not his fault that only one of those magazines still exists. He frequently moderates the Connecticut Forum and teaches media studies at Trinity College. His books, columns, magazine articles, and radio shows have won numerous awards.

Hot-Button Issues Two Years Into the Trump Era with Warren Goldstein

Thurs., Oct. 18; Nov. 1, 15; noon–1:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $80; Fellows: $60. Register online.

Two years into the most turbulent presidency of modern times, we'll take another look at the hottest of the hot-button issues in American society and politics. While we would be crazy to try to predict the controversies of October and November 2016, we do know—at least we think we do—that the 2018 midterm elections will be upon us. We also know that it will be worth trying to assess the #metoo,  #timesup, and #neveragain movements, and bring historical perspectives to bear as we assess the current state of American democracy. 

WARREN GOLDSTEIN, a longtime participant in the Presidents’ College, is the author of six books, including William Sloane Coffin, Jr.: A Holy Impatience, Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball, and, with the former MIT astrophysicist Walter Lewin, For the Love of Physics. He also is the author of dozens of articles, essays, and reviews on politics, higher education, civil rights, crime, and sports. He holds a BA and PhD from Yale University. 

Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series at Presidents' College with Larry Alan Smith, Host and Moderator

The Hartt School’s nationally acclaimed Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series, celebrating its 10th anniversary season, is partnering with the Presidents’ College to offer a two-session course. The first session will feature mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon, in conversation with longtime Hartt faculty member Larry Alan Smith, the curator of the Garmany Series.

The special guests for the second session will be the members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

KATE LINDSEY, mezzo-soprano, BAPTISTE TROTIGNON, jazz pianist

Wed., Oct. 24; 3–4:30 p.m.; Millard Auditorium. Register online.

Kate Lindsey and Baptiste Trotignon open the 2018–19 Garmany series with a concert on Oct. 25 in Millard Auditorium.


Wed., Nov. 14; 2–4:30 p.m.; Millard Auditorium
Both sessions: Cost: $40; Fellows: $20. Register online.

The St. Lawrence String Quartet studied with the Emerson String Quartet at The Hartt School in the 1990s, and since that time, the ensemble has gone on to become one of the finest string quartets in the world. They performed during the first season of the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series (2009–10)

If you are planning to attend the Garmany performances on Oct. 25 and Nov. 15, these sessions should not be missed.

Translating Beloved French Songs and Poems with Joseph Voelker

Thurs., Nov. 1, 8, 15; 10–11:30 a.m.; KF Room
Cost: $85; Fellows: $75. Register online.

Beloved lines from our most famous songs and poems have worked their way into American English and enriched our trove of available verbal expressions. Some are still taught in our schools and anthologized in books with titles like 100 Best Loved American Poems. It is of course no different with the French. This course will look at some much-loved French originals and English renderings of them to contemplate the difficulty of translating words whose sound and significance strike a memorable note in the collective consciousness of a culture. We may try our own hands at translating as well. An elementary level of French is all one needs to participate.

JOSEPH VOELKER is professor of English emeritus, and is retired as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Hartford. His publications include numerous articles on James Joyce and Irish literature and a book on American novelist Anne Tyler. He is a frequent instructor in, and the former director of, the Presidents’ College.

Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Edsel Ford: Two Communists and a Titan of Capitalism Confront the Realities of the Modern Industrial Workplace and Make Great Art with Richard Voigt

Mon., Nov. 5, 12, 19, 26; 2–3:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows: $75. Register online.

In 1932, Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo, both Mexican artists and committed communists, traveled to Detroit at the invitation of the Detroit Institute of Arts, so that Rivera could paint murals on the walls of the museum’s large atrium. The commission was funded by Edsel Ford, president of the Ford Motor Company and son of Henry Ford. The unlikely partnership of the artists and Ford ultimately produced the Detroit Industry Murals—one of the great works of art in America. How did the personal histories of Rivera, Kahlo, and Ford intersect? How were the colossal murals produced? What happened to Rivera, Kahlo, and Ford after the project was completed? What has been the social and artistic impact of the murals, including up to the present day?

RICHARD VOIGT is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Law School of the University of Virginia (“Mr. Jefferson’s University”). He served in the Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, before entering private law practice in Connecticut where he became a partner in the firm of McCarter & English, LLC. He also serves as a para-judicial officer for the U.S. District Court for Connecticut, and has been recognized for his work, including in Best Lawyers in America. He frequently lectures on American history.

Reinhold Niebuhr, Mentor to the 20th Century with Kathleen McGrory

Mon., Nov. 5, 12, 19; 3:30–5 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $85; Fellows: $70. Register online.

Few American theologians have exerted the continuing influence that Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971) has had on American politics, society, and moral philosophy of the 20th century. This course will consider Niebuhr's major writings on religion, ethics, and politics, from his first publication, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), until his retirement as professor of practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York (1960). Evidence of the enduring wisdom of his theology, ethics, and political philosophy, "political realism," will be examined in a final session on the current revival of interest in his central ideas, as seen in mainstream American politics since the 2008 presidential election campaign.

KATHLEEN McGRORY holds a PhD from Columbia University in comparative literature. She was professor of English and founder of the Irish Studies graduate program at Western Connecticut State University, dean of arts and sciences and academic vice president at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU), president of Hartford College for Women, NEH fellow at Stanford University, and senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change.

Note: Tuition and fees are non-refundable.