Midcoast Senior College

Midcoast Senior College

Fall 2012 Course Descriptions

Midcoast Senior College Fall 2012 Courses
September 10 – November 2

[Course lengths and start dates vary; see descriptions below.]


Hitchcock’s Shadows and Doubts (8-week course begins 9/10) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

Hitchcock’s films are profound meditations on eternal questions, such as the puzzling contradictions of the human persona with its propensity for the perverse as well as the proper. In Hitchcock’s world moral alternatives are ambiguous, villains attractive, and wrongly accused heroes guilty of something. The “double” motif in character and structure manifests this ambiguity and lies behind the films chosen for this course: The Lodger (an early masterpiece), Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train (rich and complex), North by Northwest, and Psycho. This is a discussion course with some films viewed in class and others at home. Dennis Kimmage, a long-time fan of Hitchcock, has a Ph.D. in Russian literature. Meets at The Highlands. Limit 20.

Maine’s Maritime Heritage (6-week course begins 10/1) 9:30-11:30am

This is more than just a regional maritime history course. Interacting with the sea and benefiting from its bounty for centuries, Maine’s maritime peoples created a special way of life for themselves. But through the years, conditions have begun to change and threaten the fragile environment on which they depend. We will focus on the broad scope of Maine’s maritime heritage through the age of sail, and challenges faced today. We will explore several patterns that have governed this voyage: the environment and its resources, the human response, technological developments, the response of government, and international relationships. Bud Warren, a Bath native, has written and lectured widely on Maine maritime history and has led numerous tours of the Maine coast for groups such as the Smithsonian and Elderhostel. Meets at University College. Limit 36.

Plants and Civilization (8-week course begins 9/10) 12:30-2:30pm

Plants are essential for life on this planet and have played a major role in the establishment, growth and advancement of civilizations. We will consider the development of agriculture, ways in which plants contribute to our daily lives, how plants have affected the growth of civilizations both negatively and positively, including the origins of agriculture, and major effects on and of explorations. One example would be the trips of Columbus and the subsequent effects of crops such as corn, potatoes, tomatoes and beans. Other areas of interest would be medicines, specialty crops, and condiments. Ed Corbett has had varied experiences in horticulture with the US Army, USDA, and several academic institutions, including University of Connecticut at Storrs. Meets at University College. Limit 24.


The Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln (8-week course begins 9/11) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

This course will be of particular interest to those who wish to gain a better understanding of the life of Abraham Lincoln. It will open a compelling view into his thinking, his career, his accomplishments, and how his legacy lives on for us today. Important facets of his life that will be covered include the ideas that were at the core of his understanding of American politics, why he opposed slavery, and the particular gifts that he possessed that equipped him to lead our nation through the “fiery trial” of the Civil War. Charlie Plummer is a long-time Civil War enthusiast widely known for his living history presentations of famous Civil War generals and other historical figures of the period. Meets at Thornton Oaks. Limit 22.

Romantic Art and Architecture in Europe and the Americas (8-week course begins 9/11) 12:30-2:30pm

“Painting,” said John Constable, “is but another word for feeling.” To a German contemporary, C.D. Friedrich, an artist’s emotions were his only law. Romantic art developed in the 18th century and endured well into the 19th, overlapping with Enlightenment-inflected Neoclassicism. Against a backdrop of revolutions, political, social, and technological, Romantic art celebrated individualism and sought inspiration in sources as distinct as the European Middle Ages, contemporary commerce, and “exotic” cultures. Like their literary and musical counterparts, Romantics questioned accepted notions about artistic identity and art’s uses and appearance; their convictions altered the cultural landscape of Europe and the Americas. Susan Benforado Bakewell is an art historian and museum curator with particular interests in early-modern Europe and the arts of the Americas. Meets at University College. Limit 36.

The Mature Mind (8-week course begins 9/11) 12:30-2:30pm Course is closed

Current research suggests that the aging brain can grow new cells, learn new things and may even be more balanced than the younger brain. In this class we will learn about the potential of the aging brain and how developmental and social intelligence expands in the second half of life. Discussions and structured exercises will provide opportunities for class members to identify their transition styles and discover the untapped creativity unique to this stage of life. Journal writing will be encouraged as a method for integrating new with old learning. Come join this class and challenge the myths of aging. Susan Mikesell is a retired psychologist interested in exploring the transitions from the world of full time work to the world that follows. Meets at University College. Limit 16.

Exile, Pilgrimage, and Reunion: Biblical Texts that Shape our Literature (6-week course begins 9/25 – no class 10/9) 1:00-3:00pm Course is closed

Key passages open the Bible’s big events – pilgrimage to a new home, exile, restoration and reunion. Two essays by Walter Breuggemann, “Nurturing an Historical Imagination” and “Making Sense as an Insider” will establish our approach. We’ll seek connections with the narratives, rather than forms of indoctrination. We’ll read an early communal recital, the Jacob account, four psalms, two parables, and a resurrection account. Along the way, we’ll refer to classics in our literary tradition. The focus will be on the Biblical texts in their original setting and our experience of them today. Dan Warren was a parish priest for 34 years and is currently serving as the Episcopal chaplain at Bates College. Meets at Thornton Oaks. Limit 15.


Socrates: The Art of Living, the Art of Dying (8-week course begins 9/12) 9:30-11:30am

Western Philosophy owes much to Socrates of Athens and his belief that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” To some, Socrates was a hero of democracy; to others an agent of the aristocracy; to some, a saintly martyr to the cause of individual freedoms; to others, an ironic victim of a tyranny he tacitly supported. Like the Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth, Socrates deliberately left us no written record of his thought. We will examine his views on living and dying well through the writings of his student, Plato, in five brief and very readable dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Phaedrus. Bob Pring taught courses in Philosophy, Literature, and World Religions at Herkimer County Community College, in central New York, for 37 years. Meets at University College. Limit 20.

Music of 19th Century Sailors (4-week course begins 10/10) 9:00-11:00am

During the latter half of the 19th century, the Atlantic seaboard was involved in an intense and far-reaching maritime industry. During this time, songs referred to as “Chanteys” and “Forecastle Songs,” were sung, according to Stan Hugill, “to cheer the soul, curse the afterguard, mark the beat, and lighten the labor.” In this four-week class, we will closely examine through live performance, slides, and recordings, the culture of sailors as reflected through their music. Stuart Gillespie wrote his masters degree thesis at the University of Connecticut on the songs of the 19th century sailor. For 12 summers he was the “senior chantey man” at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Meets at Sunnybrook Village, Bath Road, Brunswick. Limit 25.

Drawing (8-week course begins 9/12) 12:30-2:30pm Course is closed

In addition to being an artistic end in itself, drawing is the basic vocabulary for all forms of visual art. It is a skill that trains the eye and the hand, and offers vital insights into the relationship between artist and subject. This course will provide an introduction to the basics of drawing including contour and expressive line, tone and shading to convey mass and volume, and perspective and spatial illusion. We will explore a range of drawing materials and introduce the pleasure of keeping a sketchbook. Stuart Ross has taught university-level courses in painting and drawing, and has exhibited his work in the midcoast for many years.Meets at University College. Limit 12.

The History of Flying from the Montgolfier Brothers to the Red Baron (1783-1918) (6-week course begins 9/19) 12:30-2:30pm

The course presents the story of human flight from the first successful flying machine, the hot air balloon demonstrated by the Montgolfier brothers in Paris in 1783, to the capable military airplanes flown at the end of World War 1 by Manfred von Richthofen (the ‘Red Baron’) and his fellow pilots on both sides of the conflict. Four classes will address in turn 19th century aviation, The Wright brothers and other American aviators, early 20th century aviation in Europe, and World War 1. A visit to the Owls Head Transportation Museum, which has a fine collection of pre-1918 planes, will conclude the course. Peter Bakewell, born and educated in England, came to the USA in 1975 and over the course of his career held appointments in the history departments of the University of New Mexico, Emory University, and SMU. He has found airplanes fascinating since his youth, and has a private pilot’s license with a glider rating, but no longer flies. Meets at University College. Limit 15.


France, England, and the Wabanaki: The Cultural Chaos of 17th Century Maine (8-week course begins 9/13) 9:30-11:30am Course is closed

This course presents an historical and archaeological view of 17th century midcoast Maine and the Kennebec River valley. Starting with the Wabanaki, followed by the entry and intrusions of the French and English, we will discover and discuss some fascinating individuals, events, and locations. Visits to the 1607 Popham colony site, Colonial Pemaquid, and Augusta are planned. John Bradford has had a life-long interest in early Maine history, and over the past 15 years been closely involved with both the research and archaeology associated with the Popham colony and its pinnace Virginia. Meets at University College. Limit 16.

Famous Last Works (8-week course begin 9/13) 9:00-11:00am

At the end of their careers, three celebrated authors produced works quite different from anything they had written before. Why? Let us apply our own life experience in an exploration that will be at least as much philosophical as literary. The works: Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger; John Milton, Samson Agonistes; William Shakespeare, The Tempest. At Phillips Academy Paul Kalkstein taught for many years courses centering on the works of Shakespeare and Milton. Meets at Sunnybrook Village, Bath Road, Brunswick. Limit 20.

Understanding Sense of Place: Home, Our Neighborhoods, Maine (8-week course begins 9/13) 12:30-2:30pm

“Sense of place” is an emotional response to place, often closely linked to a person’s sense of identity. This link may not be fully understood until one moves away from a favorite locale, or a place is changed or lost. The course will show how “sense of place” occurs, and how we can foster it, in the places we call “home,” and in our neighborhoods, and in reference to Maine. The main text is “Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience,” by Yi-Fu Tuan. Other readings from various sources will be provided. Tim Nason, a graphic designer, has taught courses on sense of place and writing creative prose at the Senior College in Augusta. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

The History and Physics of Motion (4-week course begins 9/20) 12:30-2:30pm

We see motion everyday and seldom really understand it. Yet motion has been, arguably, the principal physical phenomenon investigated by great scientist for centuries. Aristotle’s incorrect views of motion survived until the 14th century. The study of the universe concluded that the Earth was at the center. Why? And is that truly incorrect? And why does the Moon stay up there? We will discuss motion as presented by Galileo, Newton and then Einstein, and others. With no dependence on mathematics, this course will review the arguments, perceptions and mis-perceptions of these great scientists. Tom Boulette, a Colby College graduate with a nuclear engineering Ph.D., spent most his career in the nuclear power industry, including operating the Maine Yankee Power facility in Wiscasset. He has held teaching positions at a variety of institutions, including Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Southern Maine. . Meets at University College. Limit 24.

Islam and the West: An Historical Introduction (8-week course begins 9/13) 3:00-5:00pm

This course will provide an overview of relations between Islam and Western civilization from Mohammed to the present day. While we will not ignore conflicts such as the conquest of Iberia, the Crusades, and recent extremism, our main focus will be on the significant commercial, cultural, intellectual, and social interactions between these two great civilizations. Concluding will be discussion of prospects for productive relations in the near future. Jack Thompson, a retired professor of Russian history, has taught a wide range of course at MSC and OLLI. Meets at the Patten Free Library, Bath. No enrollment limit.


Wendell Berry: A Modern Day Thoreau (8 week course begins 9/21) 9:30-11:30am

Berry is perhaps best known for his book The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture that has become a classic work in the environmental movement. He is the author of numerous collections of poems, volumes of essays, and novels and short stories. His writings cover a wide range of topics including farming, vocation, ecology, politics, economics, marriage, religion and education. Berry has been a champion of sustainability, community, small farms and the support of the local economy long before those topics became popular. The first four weeks of the course will focus on Berry’s agrarian essays and the final four weeks will explore some of his short stories and poetry. Linton Studdiford’s varied career has included teaching English, serving as a private school headmaster, farming, and serving as an Episcopal priest in various locations in the State of Maine. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

High School “Classics” Revisited (8-week course begins 9/14) 9:30-11:30am

Time recently selected To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, and Of Mice and Men as the three most meaningful high school texts that should be reread by adults. In each, characters must make crucial choices that affect themselves and others we as readers have come to care for. The stories are gripping and the characters memorable. Ted Reese, a career teacher at the secondary and collegiate levels, has taught for years at the senior colleges in Bath and Portland. Ted is known for asking leading questions and encouraging class participation. Meets at The Highlands Limit 20.

The Life and Music of Johann Sebastian Bach (8-week course begins 9/14) 12:30-2:30pm Course is closed

This course will provide an in-depth presentation of Bach, his times, and his music. In addition to telling the story of Bach’s life, the course will include analyses of a number of Bach’s best-known works and will focus on such topics as tonality, counterpoint and chorale preludes, fugues and canons, temperament, Baroque keyboards and strings, and the importance of Buxtehude and Vivaldi. A slide-show format will present text, images, and many YouTube video clips of musical examples. There will also be extensive take-home handouts and teaching help from a keyboard. Peter Griffin spent his working career at an international commodity merchant and his spare time playing Bach on the piano and a kit-built harpsichord. Upon retirement in 2006 Peter became a pipe organ student of Ray Cornils and began an in-depth study of Bach, the result of which is this course. Meets at University College. Limit 24.

Geologic Processes and Products of the Lower Kennebec Region (4-week course begins 9/21) 1:00-3:30 pm Course is closed

“Geologic Processes and Products” is a field-trip-based, 4-week course on common geologic processes and their products as revealed by visits to bedrock outcrops in the vicinity of Bath. The course will entail two classroom meetings, three field trips, car-pooling to local outcrops, short off-road walking, taking notes, and making sketches. Peter Goodwin, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Temple University, is a well-known local genealogist. Meets at University College. Limit 12.

Fall 2012 Registration Form

To be included in drawings for over-subscribed courses, mail-in deadline: July 12

Phone registration, with credit card only, begins July 22 (442-7349)