at the Morrell Room of the Curtis Memorial Library & UUC, Brunswick

Wednesdays, 12:15 – 1:45 pm

Free and Open to the Public

The Winter Wisdom lecture series is sponsored by:

NOTE: When the Brunswick schools are closed or delayed because of inclement weather, our scheduled Winter Wisdom lecture is cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date if possible. Please consult your local channels for closing information or visit the Brunswick School Department website:

January 8: Castlebay – 1960s Folk Music in a Time of Political Turmoil*

The acclaimed folk duo Castlebay will present a lecture/performance of 1960’s protest songs made popular during that time of political unrest. Julia Lane & Fred Gosbee will explain the origins and context of music of this genre. Joining them will be the MSC Singers, the sixty-voice senior college chorus. They will sing three choral arrangements of songs from that era. Julia & Fred became a singing duo in 1987 and since then have been weaving together the music and heritage of songs from Celtic and New England history. They present traditional folk music blending history, legend, and experience into their personable performance style. Their concerts are presented throughout the United States and Europe, and feature poignant ballads interspersed with introspective songs played on guitar, Celtic harp, fiddle, and tin whistle.
*At Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Middle St., Brunswick, across from Curtis Memorial Library

January 15: Good from Evil: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Campaign for Patient Rights

This presentation examines the infamous clinical study of untreated syphilis in African American males conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The historical context of the study and subsequent developments in the ethics of biomedical research provide the framework for this discussion. Richard Neiman is a retired physician with a lifelong interest in the history of medicine. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Tufts Medical School, and Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. He has been actively involved in MSC as faculty member, Winter Wisdom presenter, student, and member of the Board of Directors from 2004 to 2018.

January 23 – The Uncertain State of U.S./Cuba Relations

President Trump’s decision to discontinue normalizing relations with Cuba has called into question the short- and long–term future of relations between the long-time foes. Are we returning to the hostility of the Cold War years or did Obama’s opening progress to such an extent that a return to a more confrontational policy is unlikely? This talk will explore the factors that contributed to Obama and Raul Castro’s decision to normalize relations, the Trump administration’s apparent about-face and the prospect for future relations. Allen Wells is Emeritus Professor of History at Bowdoin College. He received his B.A. degree in History and Latin American studies from SUNY, Binghampton, and his Ph.D. from Stony Brook University. In addition to his teaching career, he has pursued research interests in modern Mexico, the history of commodities, and U.S./Latin America relations.

January 22: The Obligations of Artists: One Man’s Role

Art can educate, provoke, motivate as well as entertain and sooth the viewer. Robert Shetterly is an artist and activist perhaps most well-known for his series of portraits: Americans Who Tell the Truth. His art has served as a vehicle for both young students and adults to learn of true history and models of courageous citizenship that have impacted our democracy. He has an A.B. degree from Harvard, and honorary doctorates from USM and UMF, as well as receiving numerous other awards.

January 29: Cyrus Field and Laying of the Transatlantic Cable

In Book 3 of the Odyssey, Homer describes the royal palace of King Nestor at Pylos, in southwestern Greece. This talk will explore the Bronze Age reality behind that epic vision – the earliest Greek history we possess – from the discovery of Nestor’s palace in 1939, to current excavations in Iklaina, one of the towns in his kingdom. Cynthia W. Shelmerdine is Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor of Classics, emerita at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Research Associate in Classics at Bowdoin College. Her main research focuses on Aegean Bronze Age archaeology, and the language, history and society of Mycenaean Greece. She was educated at Bryn Mawr College, Cambridge University, and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1977). 

February 13 – Twice A Day Island: The Peterson Canal at New Meadows

This presentation will describe the fascinating story of Cyrus Field and his journey from penniless paper mill worker to one of the most prominent men in New York City. Through many challenges and missteps, this visionary became a persistent, energetic entrepreneur who went on to accomplish one of the greatest technological feats of the 19th century. Mary Morton Cowan is a Maine native and has a B.A. degree from Bates College where she majored in English and Music. She has published four books and nearly 100 articles for young readers.

February 5: Snow Day

February 12: Saving Thoreau’s Birthplace

Our speaker will describe the lengthy and concerted effort of a community to save a historic landmark and reaffirm the life and persona of this iconic figure. Lucille Stott, former President of the Thoreau Farm Trust and editor of the Concord Journal, will discuss her book, Saving Thoreau’s Birthplace (2018). Her description of the public-private partnership that resulted in the preservation of the Thoreau family homestead will remind us of the power of grassroots engagement and the importance of reviving the lost art of finding common ground. Lucille taught English and creative writing at Concord Academy and also served as editor of  Appalachia, the journal of the Appalachian Mountain Club. She has a B.A. degree in French Language and Literature from Southern Connecticut State University and M.A. degree from Middlebury College. She also studied at the Sorbonne.

February 19: Longfellow Days: Edna St. Vincent Millay and Ragged Island

Brunswick’s own Gary Lawless will share historical accounts of this renown poet who was living and writing in our mid-coast area during the early 20th century. His wit and wisdom will be shared with readings of excerpts from Millay’s poetry. Gary is a well-known poet, community activist, and co-owner of Gulf of Maine bookstore. He has a B.A .degree from Colby College in East Asian Studies and an honorary doctorate from the University of Southern Maine in Humane Letters. In 2017 the Maine Humanities Council awarded him their Constance Carlson Prize.

February 26: Climate Change and the Global Order

This program will focus on current views on the world’s changing climate for the next 30 years and outline the major impacts these changes will have on our civilization. Bruce MacDougal, a native of Bangor and graduate of Williams College and the Harvard Medical School, practiced for many years in Kentucky as a plastic and hand surgeon. As a summer resident of the North Maine Woods, he has witnessed the effects of global warming locally and also taught courses on climate science at Midcoast Senior College since 2015.

March 4: Snow Day

A scene from the 2016 Winter Wisdom series

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