Classic Redux: Great Expectations (1861)

 10:00am-12:00pm, TUESDAY— 10/16, 10/23, 10/30

If you think about it, almost all British novels of the Victorian era are about money and love (or sex), with themes like class and status, personal honor, and love for the land being thrown in for good measure. Dickens’ Great Expectations is, arguably, the most iconic Victorian novel. It’s a coming-of-age tale about a working class boy drawn into the transformative myth of inheriting great wealth. Eileen Warburton will once again provide background, biography, and historical context while guiding our discussion. Class  participants may read any unabridged edition of the novel, but must commit to reading the entire novel in advance of our meetings. (Movie versions do not count!)  Eileen Warburton has been sharing classic literature and Newport history with NCOS students for     several years. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of many books and articles, including the critically acclaimed 2004 biography of modern English novelist, John Fowles. She has taught literature at URI, BU, and Bryant University.

A Tale of Twin Villas

3:00pm-5:00pm, THURSDAY — 11/1, 11/8

The lectures will discuss the design and development of four architecturally and historically significant residences designed by Richard Upjohn. All of the villas are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and represent the dawn of resort-style architecture in America. The twin villas include the King House in Newport, RI and Kenworthy Hall in Marion, Alabama; as well as Villalou and Villalon in    Middletown, RI. The lecture will feature historic and contemporary images, renderings, personal correspondence and other material related to the villas and their owners.  Participants will also be invited to tour Villalou and Villalon.  John Grosvenor AIA is a Partner at Northeast Collaborative Architects. He earned a Bachelors of  Science in Psychology from Kenyon College and a Masters in Architecture from Miami University. He is well known for having designed many local buildings such as The Long Wharf Resort, Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, The Malbone House, and The Newport Bay Club, along with doing the restoration of Castle Hill Inn.

Bob Dylan and the History of American Folk Music

1:00pm-3:00pm, THURSDAY— 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25

This will be an introspective look at the influence of folk music on American society, starting in 1928 with one of the earliest known US folk festivals located in Asheville, NC, and ending with the scheduled 2018 Newport Folk Festival. We will also listen to and discuss protest songs, starting with folk singer Aunt Molly Jackson in the coal fields of Kentucky in 1931, to the conflict in Viet Nam; and up to the  present. We will look at the history of American folk music and listen to some of the greatest folk musicians, including: Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, The Weavers, Peter, Paul and Mary – just to name a few. And of course, the history and music of Bob Dylan. A month after Dylan recorded “The times they are a Changing”, John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Come and join me for great music and discussion!  Brett Morse has offered many courses with OLLI at URI, Salve Regina COS, Edward King House in Newport, and the Beechwood House in Wickford. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over forty years. A graduate of Bryant College, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam era, and is a certified yoga instructor.

Comforting Others: What to Say and Do

3:00pm-5:00pm,  TUESDAY— 11/13

This workshop is ideal for caregivers and professionals supporting people through grief, as well as for those coping with chronic illness, disability or aging. When called to comfort others, we may feel  empathy and care deeply, but sometimes what to say or do can elude us. We will explore how to put  compassion into action with practical examples of comforting at work and at home. We will review recent research on empathy, grief, and social support, and examine best practices for how to be helpful. We will discuss realistic ways to make commitments with others in need, and how to honestly set boundaries with our availability to help. Finally, we will share our stories of comforting others, or being comforted by  others, and learn from each other’s experiences.  Val Walker is the author of The Art of Comforting:  What to Say and Do for People in Distress (Penguin/Random House).  She has a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and worked 24 years in social services positions as a counselor, case manager and educator. With her consultancy, Heartening Resources, she speaks and writes about how to be a comforting presence with people facing loss and change in their lives. She lives in the Boston area, and teaches throughout New England.

Current International Events in Review

12:45pm-2:45pm, WEDNESDAY— 9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, 11/14

Currently in its 12th year, a workshop-style survey and discussion of current     international events of the week, combined with country, region and political organization reviews.  Guest lecturers from the Naval War College and other sources are also used.  Fall 2018 topics will add to an   understanding of the current events being discussed.  Ron Becker, a graduate of Reed College, is a retired actuary with over 35 years of technical and  administrative experience in the life insurance industry and a life-long interest in history and politics.  Ben Riggs is a retired business executive who has served as chief executive of U.S. divisions of several foreign-owned conglomerates.  After graduating from Boston University, he served for eight years as a Naval Aviator, remaining in the Naval Reserve until retirement.  His knowledge and interest in international affairs arose from both his military career as well as numerous business dealings in Europe, Japan and the Middle East.

Down the Garden Path

10:00am-12:00pm, WEDNESDAY— 9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24

This seminar will romp across centuries and continents to survey the history of gardens. The sessions will follow a roughly chronological sequence as we examine

  • what appeals to us in a garden?
  • how has our appreciation and definition of green spaces evolved over time?
  • what influenced development of garden culture in the United States?
  • what’s new in garden design?
  • how can we apply lessons from garden history to our own spaces, no matter their size?

Jean Frisbee holds a Master of Professional Studies in Sustainable Landscape Design from George Washington University, 2013, and graduated from the University of Rhode Island Master Gardener Program in 2008. She is also a life-long traveler.

Florence: The Cradle of the Renaissance

10:00am-12:00pm, FRIDAY—9/21, 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26

This six-lecture course will explore the city of Florence and the artists who lived and worked there during the period of cultural history known as the Renaissance.  Lecture 1 will place the Renaissance in historical perspective, and briefly address whether the Renaissance represented a sharp break in cultural history or a continuity of earlier trends emerging after the so-called “Dark Ages” that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.  We will also identify five factors influencing the emergence of Florence as the central point for the revival of interest in ancient Greece and Rome:  Peace, Prosperity, Population, Patronage and Producers.  Lectures 2, 3 and 4 will successively address the three “Arts of Design” – Painting, Architecture and Sculpture.    Lecture 2 on Painting will trace the history of Renaissance painting from Giotto and    Masaccio to the three Grand Masters of the High Renaissance:  Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael.  We will discuss the art of fresco painting and the re-discovery of linear perspective.   Lecture 3 on        Architecture will identify the various architectural gems adorning the city including works by Giotto,    Arnolfo di Cambio, Leon Battista Alberti and Filippo Brunelleschi.  We will devote half a lecture to watching a PBS documentary on the raising of the Duomo in which an Italian Professor, with the assistance of a team of master bricklayers from the United States, will illustrate his theory on how the Dome was constructed (the secretive Brunelleschi leaving no plans or notes).  Lecture 4 on Sculpture will focus on the Baptistery Doors and the sculptures by Ghiberti, Donatello and others adorning Orsanmichele.  Special attention will be paid to Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David, comparing and contrasting his work with earlier depictions by other artists.  Lecture 5 will explore the transition from the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages to the Humanism of the Renaissance, and will address the development of the other Humanities during the Renaissance such as Poetry and Music. Lecture 6 will focus on the role played by women scholars and artists during the Renaissance.  John T. Del Negro is a graduate of George Washington University and the Cornell Law School.  Now a semi-retired attorney, John had had with a special interest in the history and art of Florence for more than forty years, has visited the city more than a dozen times, and speaks Italian. 

Great Photographers You Need to Know

10:00am-12:00pm, TUESDAY—9/25, 10/2, 10/9

We will study the art of several photographers you may never have heard of, among them Abelardo Morell, whose simultaneous indoor/outdoor landscapes made with a gigantic camera obscura will amaze you, while painter and photographer Saul Leiter will transport you back to NYC in the fifties with his lovely pastoral street scenes. We will also examine the life and work of Czech photographer Josef Koudelka among others, as time allows.  Jan Armor is an award-winning educator and fine art photographer with forty years experience in both digital and traditional media. He has taught several photography courses for the OLLI at URI. He has    received grants and awards for environmental photography and has taught at the Newport Art Museum, the Bristol Art Museum, Wickford Art Association, South County Art Association, and others. To see Jan’s work and a more descriptive biography, visit his web site: Jan’s most recent class for the Newport Circle of Scholars was The Art of the iPhone in Fall 2017.

History of Japanese in America After World War II

3:00pm-5:00pm, TUESDAY– 9/25, 10/2, 10/9, 10/16

 The lives of Japanese in America were dramatically changed after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Due to the perceived  military necessity and national security needs, the U.S. Government forced 120,000 Japanese from their homes on the West Coast and incarcerated them in camps enclosed by barbed wire and armed guards.  Two-thirds of the Japanese people were American citizens who found themselves and their immigrant parents denied their constitutional rights and the right of due process due to the fear that some would support Japan and turn against the U.S. .  We will tell the story of how families were affected, the suffering that was endured,  the Japanese responses to the challenges they faced, and more recent implications of the government’s actions. This is ultimately the story of the fight for and protection of Japanese American rights which were taken away by their own government .  Ken Nomiyama, a retired businessman, has developed a deep interest in the history and plight of the Japanese American.  He is Japanese American, born during WW II at Tule Lake, California, one of the ten internment camps established by the U.S. Government  after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He is a board member of the Tule Lake Committee.  A resident of Newport, he is also involved in many volunteer activities with the Newport Public Schools and is a member of the City’s Trust and Investment Commission.  James T. McIlwain, Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience, Brown University, is a student of Japanese American history with a special interest in the service of Japanese Americans in the US Army during WWII.  He is a life member of the Japanese American Veterans Association and an honorary member of Fox-Company Chapter of the 442nd Veterans Club of Honolulu.

Israel Has Intrigued Me Since the Six-Day War

2:00pm-4:00pm, FRIDAY— 10/19

Israel, celebrating its 70th year of existence, has intrigued me for the past 51 years, since the 1967 Six-Day war. I was always interested in the fate of the Jewish people and how Israel became a refuge for many Jews throughout the world. I minored in Middle Eastern History at Penn State with a noted Arab scholar who had a profound impact on my perception of the Middle East. I have travelled to Israel four times since 1972, inclusive. I will show photos and discuss how Israel has changed since 1972 and how my thoughts have changed on Israel throughout the years. This is intended to be an informational discussion.  Mark Kanter worked at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center for over 31 years as an industrial engineer. He became a bar-mitzvah at the age of 13 in 1969. He went on the trips to Israel to learn about Jewish life outside of the United States and to visit family there.  

The Life and Legacy of Dr. John Clarke

10:00am-12:00pm, TUESDAY— 10/16

This seminar will explore the life of Dr. John Clarke.  A man of mystery, in the annals of history his     accomplishments are often overshadowed by his friend Roger Williams.  Yet, Dr. Clarke’s contribution to establishing religious liberty and liberty of conscience as a guiding principle in the fabric of Newport’s civil and religious life would help to anchor these very principles in the soul of America.   The insights for this two hour class will be based on various resources.  They include his only book, Ill Newes From New England the early church records of the congregation he founded in 1638, the United Baptist Church, the few biographical accounts of Dr. Clarke’s life and some conjecture based on putting the various pieces of his story together.  Rev. Dr. Paul Hanson is the former pastor of the United Baptist Church in Newport RI.  He has a BA in history and biblical studies and Doctorate of Ministry.    For the last 26 years, he has made an extensive study on Dr. John Clarke and the early Baptist community of Newport from 1638 to 1735 and has spoken to various local and national groups on the significance of Dr. John Clarke and his contribution to the principle of religious liberty.  

What Happens When We Die?

   5:00-6:300pm – THURSDAY – 9/20, 10/18, 11/15

This program began last March 2016, and is conducted as the Rhode Island Chapter of the International Association for Near Death Studies (“IANDS”at The aim of the group is to explore and deepen our understanding of what has been learned about human consciousness from people who have had near-death experiences (“NDEs”) and have reported an amazing journey after they have been revived, along with the lessons they learned.  We will review and discuss actual documented experiences along with the findings of various researchers and scientists, all of whom have various theories about how this happens and what it can tell us about the transition from life as we know it, and what lies beyond. Some videos and guest speakers are utilized. This is not connected with any organized religion or religious belief. Some of the group’s current  members include persons who have had NDEs, “after death” communications with loved ones, and  related experiences of their own.  Ben Riggs is a retired business executive who has served as chief executive of several manufacturing companies. His knowledge and interest in NDEs evolved from the experiences of friends and family and subsequent participation with IANDS, which has included numerous national conferences, workshops, extensive study, and close collaboration with leading experts in the field.

Our Global Environment

 3:00pm-5:00pm,  MONDAY—10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 11/5, 11/12

The environment of our planet is changing, and there have been many opinions on what is causing it, how it will affect us, and what we should do about it. This course will focus on what mankind is doing to our environment, regardless of whether it significantly causes global warming or not. It will be both lecture and open discussion. The lecture portion will cover some historical perspectives taken from Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse”, as well as the effects of things like globalization, forestry, agriculture,    fishing, energy production, and population growth on the land we live on and the oceans we depend on. We will also look at various methods for curbing global warming and pollution while still meeting our energy needs.  A technical or science background is not required.  Ben Riggs is a retired business executive who has served as chief executive for U.S. divisions of several foreign-owned conglomerates.  Prior to that he served for eight years as a Naval Aviator. His knowledge and interest in international and environmental affairs arose from both his military career as well as      numerous business dealings in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and the Middle East, and responsibility for      various energy related projects. He has also participated in numerous radio and TV panel discussions on environmental issues.

People-to-People Experiences in Asia

 2:00pm-4:00pm,  FRIDAY—10/5, 10/12

We have had the opportunity to visit Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Thailand.   Tokyo’s ultra-modern city can take your breath away while Kyoto is steeped in history. Malaysia’s and   Singapore’s British and Chinese history was a learning experience.  The increasing influence of Mainland China on Hong Kong; visiting the Taj Mahal and travelling through the dense streets of Delhi in India was profoundly influencing. In Thailand and Japan, we experienced seeing the up-to-date cities of    Bangkok and Tokyo and travelled to the sedate cities of Chiang Mai and Kyoto. We have experienced the culinary delights of India, the fresh fish of Thailand and the authentic Chinese Food of Hong Kong. We want to share our experiences with you.  Mark Kanter worked at Naval Undersea Warfare Center for over 31 years as an industrial engineer. Mark’s lifelong avocation has been baseball. He went on the trips to Asia to learn about how people   halfway around the world live, including watching baseball in Japan. He has a life-long interest in travel.  Lynne Glickman worked in the computer industry for 31 years. She worked for Digital, Compaq,     Hewlett-Packard and SAIC. She consulted at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center as well as national and international companies. She retired from computer consulting in 2012 and currently teaches Chair Yoga at the Edward King House. She, too, has a lifelong interest in travel.

Repeal and Replace

10:00am-12:00pm,  WEDNESDAY—11/14, 11/21, 11/28

Repeal and replace, mandates, deductibles, universal coverage – the newspapers and talk shows bombard us daily with phrases of the day.  If you started with a blank sheet of paper, how would you build a health care system for the country? What to include and what to reject, how much should it cost, where does the money come from, and who gets paid and for what? This course will attempt to cover the fundamental contrasts in social thought, the tough choices needed, and potential conflicts of interest present in developing a national health care policy.    Andrew Brem is an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics (Nephrology) at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and was a full time physician on the medical staff of the Rhode Island Hospital for 30 years. In addition to providing direct patient care, he taught medical students, residents and fellows, and ran a basic science research laboratory. During his career, he also served on a number of boards and    committees which focused on health care at the national level.  

Robots that Fly, Swim and Crawl

3:00pm-5:00pm,  TUESDAY—11/6

Naval War College professor John Jackson, who holds the E.A. Sperry Chair of Unmanned Systems and Robotics, will discuss the past, present and future uses of robotic and unmanned systems, both in the  military services and in private use. His fast-paced and fact-filled presentation will discuss the systems involved, the operational challenges they address, and the legal and ethical ramifications of their use. He will address everything you always wanted to know about drones, but were afraid to ask!  John Jackson is a senior professor in the Naval War College’s College of Distance Education.  A     long-time proponent of emerging technology, he has taught one of the College’s most popular elective courses entitled “Unmanned Systems and Conflict in the 21st Century” since the 2009 academic year. In March 2010, he was called to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security regarding his course and the attitude of military officers toward this evolving technology.

Taking the Inward Journey

1:00pm-3:00pm,  THURSDAY—9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25

This six week seminar will introduce participants to the benefits of relaxation, movement and stretching. Each session will focus on a different technique designed to enhance wellness through a gentle mind-body approach. This interactive seminar will feature a session on each of the following topics: Six Movements for a Happy Spine; Breath Techniques; Introduction to Yoga; Ayurveda; the Chakra Energy System; and Meditation. No prior experience is needed, and all levels of ability are welcome. Please wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat if you have one. This program may be enjoyed from a chair. These sessions will provide an opportunity for deep personal growth.     Linda M. Morse is professionally certified as a yoga teacher through the Kripalu Center in MA for over fifteen years, and has taught classes in yoga, chair yoga, the Chakra energy system, meditation, and breath techniques with the OLLI at URI, Salve’s COS, and the Edward King House. Her relaxed and humorous approach invites students to integrate body, mind and spirit.

The Muslim Occupation of Spain, 711 – 1492: Its Conquests, Contributions and Challenges to Europe Then and Now!

10:00am-12:00pm,  FRIDAY—11/2, 11/9

In 711, Arab-led Berber Muslim forces invaded the Iberian Peninsula. Conquering most of that land they threatened Christian Europe until defeated soundly by the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732 never to return. The subsequent Muslim Empire in Iberia flourished, its ‘Golden Age’ referred to even by        Europeans as “The glittering jewel of the West.” Muslim Iberia contributed learning, technology and   commercial practices there  and in Europe resulting in universities, mass-produced paper facilitating     invention of Gutenberg’s printing press, and the onset of the Renaissance. Spanish kings gradually         re-conquered the territory, Ferdinand and Isabella ending the Muslim presence in 1492. Unified, confident Spain went on to discover a New World and became a European power. That legacy continues, and we will be discussing the impact all this has had on Europe and the EU today.    Dr. Ron Barks has long been interested in aspects of European history not commonly emphasized in most history courses. Ron has presented these seminars to the Newport Circle of Scholars on previous  occasions. He has also provided a second, well-received series, ”Today’s Europe: Its Tribal Roots and Current Challenges” to NCOS plus a seminar on ‘Los Alamos: Birthplace of the Bomb!’.


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