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The Beat Poets: Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso and di Prima

Leader:  Don Melander

Mondays, 10 am – Noon, Oct 4 – Nov 8

Those of us who were coming of age in the 1950s may remember reading Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road, perhaps some of his other novels, and his book of poems Mexico City Blues. Don Allen’s anthology The New American Poetry 1945-1960, which we have been using in the seminar on modern American poets, includes 12 poems from Kerouac’s book.  Other poems from the anthology that are included for discussion are a half dozen of Gregory Corso’s poems, including his wonderful poem “Marriage,” several of Allen Ginsberg’s poems including his great poem “Howl,and a reading of his poem “America.”  Diane di Prima hadn’t published much by the time Allen was editing his anthology, but several poems from di Prima’s Earthsong: Poems 1957-1959, edited by Alan S. Marlowe, will be provided.

Don Melander is a Senior Professor of Humanities, retired, at New England College where he taught mostly literature and writing for 45 years. For the last decade he has served as dramaturge for the Open Door Theater. He holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from Syracuse University; his dissertation is on the 20th-century American poet, Wallace Stevens. This seminar on early 20th-century American poets is his fourteenth for LINEC.

World’s Greatest Geological Wonders:  36 Spectacular Sites

Leader: Paul Hague

Mondays, 1 – 3 pm, Oct 4 – Nov 8 

This course takes us to the world’s most spectacular geological wonders, explains the forces that formed them, and recounts the stories that have grown up around them. In the lectures this term, we explore 12 amazing geologic locations on our planet.  The goal of this course is to heighten your sense of wonder and respect for the planet we live on.  These classes draw on the Great Courses lectures by Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D. of Washington University, St. Louis, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences.  Dr. Wysession is an established leader in seismology and geophysical education.

October 4

Cave of Crystals – Exquisite Caves
Great Blue Hole – Coastal Symmetry in Sinkholes

October 11

Ha Long Bay – Dramatic Karst Landscape
Bryce Canyon – Creative Carvings of Erosion

October 18

Uluru/Ayers Rock – Sacred Nature of Rocks
Devils Tower – Igneous Enigmas

October 25

Antarctica – A World of Ice
Columbia Glacier – Unusual Glacier Cycles

November 1

Fiordland National Park – Majestic Fjords

Rock of Gibraltar – Catastrophic Floods

November 8

Bay of Fundy – Inexorable Cycle of Tides
Hawaii – Volcanic Island Beauty

Paul Hague is a retired geologist who loves to continue learning.

Biology & Society

Instructor:  Eric J. Simon

Tuesdays, 10 am – Noon,  Sept 28, Oct 12 – Nov 2

We live in a golden age of biology. The scientific study of life affects each of us, our loved ones, and society at large in countless ways. The purpose of this course is to introduce learners to biology as a scientific discipline and then to survey several ways that the subject intersects with our daily lives. Topics will be chosen to be timely and relevant to all. This course is intended for learners of all backgrounds, with no prior knowledge or experience required.

Course outline (subject to change):

  1. An introduction to science, biology, life, and evolution
  2. Cancer: cells run amok
  3. Nutrition: the study of life’s building blocks
  4. DNA profiling: your genetic code
  5. Performance-enhancing drugs: body hacks to improve athletes

Eric J. Simon, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Biology and Health Science at New England College, in Henniker, New Hampshire. He teaches introductory biology and tropical marine biology with a field component in Belize. Dr. Simon received a B.A. in biology and computer science and an M.A. in biology from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University. Dr. Simon is the author of a widely used series of college biology textbooks with nearly 3 million copies in print.

Russia: From Czars to Commissars (and Back?)

Instructor:  Carol Zink

Tuesdays, 1 – 3 pm, Oct 5 – Nov 9

In this fast-paced survey of Russian history we study the major Czars from Peter the Great to the last Czar, Nicholas II; the origins and outcomes of the Russian Revolutions; the USSR from Lenin to the breakup of the Soviet Union; the chaos of the Yeltsin years; and finally the rise and continuing reign of Putin. Along the way we look at the social, political, and economic policies of the various eras, and Russia’s interactions with the world beyond its borders.

(schedule subject to change)

October 5

The Growth of Russia: Czars Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander I, Nicholas I; Alexander II’s Reforms: Causes, Actions, Results

October 12 

Nicholas II and the Revolution of 1905; The Russian Revolutions of 1917; Lenin’s Programs; Comparison of Leninism and Marxism

October 19

Stalin’s Russia: Political, Economic and Social Transformations; Continuities and Discontinuities with Leninism; WWII on the Eastern Front; The End of Stalin

October 26

Khrushchev and De-Stalinization; The USSR and the Cold War; Brezhnev and Stagnation; Gorbachev and the demise of the USSR

November 2

The Chaotic Yeltsin Years; the rise of Putin

November 9 

Putin – Return to the Past: the new Czar or the new Stalin?


Carol Zink, is a retired high school history teacher who taught Modern World and AP European History. She currently teaches online for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Hawaii. She is also a retired Navy Captain, grandmother of five, and an avid hiker, kayaker, swimmer, and chef. She usually divides her time between New Hampshire and California, but this year is going to ‘try winter’ and spend a year and a half in New Hampshire.

Great Composers

Leader:  Fran Philippe

Wednesdays, 10 am – Noon, Oct 6 – Nov 10

Launched in 2004, Keeping Score was designed by Michael Tilson Thomas to make classical music accessible to people of all ages and from all musical backgrounds. Comprised of nine one-hour documentaries, Keeping Scoredetails the lives of eight major composers from around the world, and explores the motivations and influences behind their most canonical works. Each episode is accompanied by a one-hour concert program performed by the San Francisco Symphony. Thomas considers creating Keeping Score one of the most exciting journeys he and the San Francisco Symphony have taken together. It was made available to the public because of COVID. This term we attend lectures on the following composers and experience their compositions.   Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; Mahler: 1st Symphony; Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer and a Mahler Journey; Stravinsky: Rite of Spring; Ives: Holidays Symphony and Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5.

Fran Philippe is an elementary school educator for whom LINEC has played a big part in her retirement, both as a ‘student’ and administratively. She shares her time between local volunteer opportunities and experiencing the beautiful environment in which we live, in any manner she can.

American Novel Reading Group

Leader:  John McCausland

Wednesdays, 1 – 3 pm, Oct 6 and Nov 3

The American novel reading group will be entering its fourth year this fall, the first LINEC course to experiment with year-round meetings. Each month we choose by consensus the novel to be read next, drawing from several lists of “100 bests.” In recent months we have read contemporary works like Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and classics like Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables. We discuss each work in its own right and in relation to the American novel tradition and its cultural/political/historical context. Discussion is not highly technical, but always lively and warm-hearted. We have delved into regional works, feminist books, African American novels, famous titles and less well-known ones.  Some group participants have been part of the project from the beginning, others are new, some come and go depending on the season, their lives and the book. The door is always open. And . . . you can talk a lot, a little, or not at all. October’s selection is On the Road by Jack Kerouac; in November we read William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

John McCausland was an English major once upon a time and continues to find enjoyment and wisdom from reading and sometimes rereading novels, while discussing them with others. Retired from careers as a lawyer and Episcopal priest, he finds in LINEC a family of interesting and engaged friends who enliven each other’s lives and help make the golden years truly golden.

America’s Founding Fathers

Leaders: Dick Hesse, Mary Lee Sargent

Thursdays, 10 am – Noon, Oct 7 – Nov 11

America’s Founding Fathers is a deep dive into the creation of the U.S. Constitution as it actually happened – not as many are led to believe it happened. The three-term course includes thirty-six compelling lectures from the Great Courses video series on the remarkable men who played their own unique role in the creation (and survival) of American democracy. The Founders were flawed, contradictory people with their own radical views on what America’s new government should look like. Through their lives, opinions, and deeds, one can see just how messy and rancorous a process was the formation of a “more perfect union.” 

The course covers a period from the closing days of the American Revolution to the opening decades of the United States under the newly created U.S. Constitution. The lectures are highly accessible for all learners, from high school students to retired history buffs.

America’s Founding Fathers invites you to experience the precarious, tense battle between power and liberty – a battle that’s still being waged, and that will be waged for decades to come.

October 7

George Washington’s Doubts

Thomas Mifflin’s Congress

October 14

Robert Morris’s Money

Benjamin Franklin’s Leather Apron

October 21

Thomas Jefferson’s Books

Daniel Shays’s Misbehavior 

October 28

Alexander Hamilton’s Republic

James Madison’s Conference

November 4

Patrick Henry’s Religion

James Madison’s Vices

November 11

Edmund Randolph’s Plan

William Paterson’s Dissent

Dick Hesse is a retired lawyer and law professor who specialized in constitutional law and was involved in several cases before the Supreme Court. He has presented history courses for LINEC and other adult education programs over a number of years.

Mary Lee Sargent is a retired professor of History and Women’s Studies. She taught at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois for 35 years and was Director of the Women and Gender Studies Department. After moving to New Hampshire in 2003, Mary Lee was an adjunct instructor at Southern New Hampshire and Plymouth State Universities and Lakes Region and NHTI Community Colleges.

No Thursday afternoon courses this term.

The Classic Noir Films of the 1940s

Instructor:  Don Melander

Fridays, 10 am – Noon, Oct 8 – Nov 12


Some of these classic noir films of the 1940s were film adaptations of such great noir novelists as Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain.  The movies we are going to discuss are the following: Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon; the often televised Double Indemnity; Murder, My Sweet; Chandler’s The Big Sleep; Chandler’s The Blue Dahlia; Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, remade in 1981, in color, by Bob Rafelson, starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange; Out of the Past; Fearing’s The Big Clock, an especially good adaptation; Gun Crazy; and Burnett’s The Asphalt Jungle.  Films, usually found on Netflix or Amazon Prime, are viewed on your own prior to Friday discussions.

Don Melander often makes reference to films in his teaching of literature.  Since 2010 he has also taught a Communications course on movies and film directors.  Although he has no formal training in film, he has been ‘reading’ serious films as serious literature since 1958.

Understanding Today’s China

Instructor:  Elliott Berry

Fridays, 1 – 3 pm, Oct 8 – 22  

Today China is increasingly viewed in the US and other parts of the western world as an emerging superpower that threatens the peace and stability of Asia and the current world order. In order to make an assessment of where China is headed, it may be helpful to examine where it is coming from and how the Chinese view themselves. In the first session we look at China at the apex of its imperial power, the collapse of the Qing Empire beginning with the First Opium War, China’s subjugation by western imperial powers, the social and political ferment of the first two decades of the 20th century, and the early stirrings of the communist movement.

In the second session we examine the surprising course of the Communist Revolution starting with its precarious early years to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. We also take a close look at the turbulent Maoist era, focusing on the disastrous Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution.

In the final session we examine the “reform and opening up” policy initiated by Deng Xiaoping that ushered in what is, by most measures, the most dramatic period of economic growth that any nation in world history has achieved. We end by looking at how China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, has steered a different course from his recent predecessors, one that may be more consistent with China’s imperial past. Hopefully this brief history can assist us in trying to assess China’s ambitions, challenges and fears in coming decades.

Elliott Berry graduated from the University of Michigan in 1971 with a B.A. in Far Eastern Studies (concentrating on China). From 2006-2009 he taught during the fall semesters at the Law School of the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. He first visited China (Taiwan and Hong Kong) in 1970 and Mainland China in 1977. Since 2004 he has visited China 10 times, and has traveled extensively throughout the country. He has a “degree of fluency” in Mandarin Chinese. Elliott has been a lawyer at NH Legal Assistance since moving to New Hampshire in 1975.