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  January 2016

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Winter Courses

Spring Dates

New Speaker Series

Faculty Profile: Serena Le

Volunteer Profile: Howard and Christina Janssen

Faculty News

Travel Study: Italy

Fourth Age Salon

Upcoming Events

In Memoriam

Lunch Bunch

Member Benefits

Susan Hoffman

Business and Operations Manager
Lisa Hardy

Classroom and Facilities Coordinator
Eric Anthony

Communications Coordinator
Jennifer Monahan

Research Program Associate
Cheryl Brewster

Classroom Coordinator, Lafayette
Jason Gant

Happy New Year!

Winter Term 2016
January 25 - March 7

It's not too late to register for Winter Term! 

Most larger classes still have seats, including Alex Saragoza's Latinos and American Politics, Beverly Allen's Italy and Ideas, and Pete Elman's Fab Four and the Stones.

Browse our catalogue online, then r egister at olli.berkeley.edu or 510.642.9934. 

Classes start Monday, January 25 and run through Monday, March 7. 

Spring Term

Our Spring term runs from March 28 through May 7. Registration will open February 8.

Thank you, New York Times!

A recent New York Times article about Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes nationwide described OLLIs as "among the best-known advanced adult educational programs in the country," stating that OLLIs "tend to attract educated, passionate people who are seeking intellectual and social stimulation among peers who often become new friends."

Mark Your Calendars: 
OLLI Speaker Series coming to Oakland in March

As part of our ongoing outreach efforts, we're expanding our Speaker Series to include two talks in downtown Oakland this March, in between Winter and Spring terms.

Wednesday, March 16
"Middle-Class Populism: What's Driving Voters to Extremes?"
David Peritz, Professor of Politics, Sarah Lawrence College

Wednesday, March 23
"Grassroots Organizing"
Gabriel Thompson, author of America's Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century

Both events will take place at the Veterans Memorial Building at 200 Grand Avenue (cross street Harrison), near Lake Merritt and just steps away from St. Paul's Towers. They are free for all attendees (not just current OLLI members), so tell your friends!
Faculty Profile: Serena Le

Serena Le, a Ph.D. candidate in English at UC Berkeley, brings extensive training in music and performance to the study of poetry. Her upcoming OLLI course "Poetry and Performance" is a truly interdisciplinary course that includes several performances at Zellerbach Hall and looks at the points of contact between literature, music, and visual arts. Offered in collaboration with Cal Performances, it will also present an opportunity for intergenerational learning since Ms. Le will simultaneously teach a version of the course to UC Berkeley undergraduates. Course development funding provided by a grant form the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Serena Le
Tell us about your current academic focus and how it ties in to pedagogy.
My dissertation, "Learning to Hear: the Acoustic Space of Modern Poetry," examines three canonical modern poets -- Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound -- in terms of their relationships to sound. I look in particular at how their trained ears influenced the kinds of statements they made about poetry that have since become conventional. All these poets were very plugged in culturally. They had access to music and art. They had intensely rigorous educations. They had other careers that allowed them to really position poetry with respect to a much wider world. They also had resources that allowed them to continue diversifying their experience. So when these poets look at or conceive of a work of art, they are able to connect it to numerous aspects of human experience and interaction. When we teach these same poets without their cultural and environmental reference points, however, we end up inducing a much narrower and -- depending on the student -- less ultimately meaningful mode of engagement. I believe that if we don't connect how poets themselves learn to hear -- and how this informs their conception of poetry -- with the ways in which our students hear and encounter poetic endeavor, we're not teaching poetry effectively. In other words, my dissertation looks at traditionally challenging poetic projects through the lens of what allows certain people -- because of their experience and training -- to find them powerful, then brings that out into a discussion of how we teach poetry today.

How will the analysis and discussion of the poetry inform the students' understanding of the performances and vice versa?
To me, activities like attending performances or engaging with other forms of creative expression have always seemed deeply complementary to literary engagement. I don't think I would have the relationship to literature I currently have if I hadn't also been performing all my life, going to concerts, being around artists, and actively learning about the ways in which a human mind can first encounter, and then endeavor to express or represent, the world. I want my students to be able to encounter poetry as something that can make our experience of the world more vivid and guide our attention from day to day. When I think about how to teach literature, I think in part about how to get students to a point of empathy with and awareness of creative choice and endeavor. That's where the performance part of my syllabus comes in. We'll be beginning our class sessions with conversations about poets and writing, but I want it to be implicit in this engagement that there are so many potentials for expression. What makes one particular mode of expression strong or interesting? What kinds of audiences can it engage? What are some of the differences between expressive mediums, and to what extent do they overlap or converge? As we move through the course, we'll look at poetry that doesn't want just to stay on the page, poets for whom language will not stay contained. The perspectives we gain through our readings will shape our discussion of the performances, which themselves occur across a wide variety of expressive mediums and encourage really diverse forms of audience engagement.

What had you choose these performances?  
I chose these performances especially for their multimedia aspects and for the ways in which they encourage audience members to think about physical perception. For instance, we start with Messiaen's "Des Canyons aux Etoiles," which is that composer's endeavor to convey a very particular physical space through orchestral sound. And because Messiaen was synesthetic, the sounds that occur in his pieces were not just sounds for him. They were also a series of colors, a rich visual tapestry.  Messiaen's piece is not traditionally performed with visuals, but the upcoming performance at Zellerbach has an accompanying visual presentation with photographs of the canyons that are being sounded. This really raises the question of what makes a piece come alive for a particular audience or a particular artist. Deborah O'Grady, the landscape photographer behind the visual presentation, is responding both to her own experience of the canyons and to Messiaen's work. If you haven't seen the canyons for yourself, what is it like to hear a collection of sounds meant to evoke that space? If you happen to be someone for whom more ambient, natural, or atonal sounds don't carry much significance, the piece can seem very abstract, very inconsequential, unless paired with something more illustrative like O'Grady's work. At the other end, for someone who shares some aspects of Messiaen's training and background, it can seem very powerful as sound alone. In both cases, adding a visual dimension shifts the nature of the engagement. This is how I want my students to look at poetry as well.

What had you choose the other performances?
The rest of our performances are similarly evocative. The second features eighth blackbird, a contemporary string, wind, and percussion sextet that aims to make music a physical force, active and material, and takes its name from a Wallace Stevens poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." I love this; it's such a good example of how interrelated the arts are when a group of performing musicians take their name from a poem. We encounter examples of that all the time. We might think of T.S. Eliot, whose Four Quartets not only refer to chamber music, but are also a response to his own desire to get a bit of Beethoven's late quartets into language. This kind of interrelation is usually in the background of our discussion of a particular art form, but it's really different to bring that to the fore and examine what sound and poetry mean for these particular artists. We will also see Bach's complete solo violin works, bulwarks of Western classical repertoire, reinterpreted -- with the addition of films by David Michalek -- as a contemporary collaborative audiovisual experience, and our final outing will be to a performance of Terry Riley's Sun Rings , which merges language, image, live performance, and audio recording into a vision of space that both exceeds and encompasses life as we know it.

Volunteer Profile: 
Howard and Christina Janssen

Howard and Christina Janssen by OLLI Volunteer Gale Lederer
"My notes might not be quite as accurate as they were thirty years ago," says Howard
Janssen, "but taking classes at OLLI is so relaxing -- and exhilarating!  Everyone's so
engaged -- no one's forced to be there." His wife Christina agrees:  "We take classes together, talk about them as we walk home, and share the reading. OLLI expands our relationship." 

The  Janssens, who take classes both in their home town of Lafayette and in Berkeley, extol the  quality of OLLI teaching:  "The instructors are all at the top of their fields, and they stay  current." Leon Litwack's analysis of turning points in American history bowled them over, as  did Michael Thaler's discussions of the brain, personal medicine, and genetics. Christina praises  Alex Saragoza's courses on the Spanish Civil War and Cuba as well as the trips he led to  Catalonia and Cuba: "He's such an effective, engaging professor. He blends history and culture, and makes it all relevant to today." And then there was Richard Lichtman's class on exploring philosophical issues through film: "I saw amazing movies I'd never even heard of," Howard tells us.

The California roots of both Janssens go back several generations -- in one case, all the way to 1851. They practice law through their own partnership and are part of a company that imports and distributes an herbal supplement from Vietnam. They have four children and six grandchildren, aged from two to fifteen, and spent Christmas with a large part of their extended family at their tiny Tahoe cabin. They hike, cross-country ski, and travel extensively. "Every day is full and exciting," says Howard. "I wake up with a smile-whatever's the plan."

The Janssens learned about OLLI through their affiliations with UC Berkeley. They enjoy giving back to OLLI by volunteering for the Lafayette Advisory Council, organizing various events, and serving as class assistants. They have both been active in the Cal Parents' organization and Christina now serves on the board of the International House.

Faculty News

Shannon Jackson, Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design at UC Berkeley and one of the speakers in our Winter speaker series, attended the COP21 climate talks in Paris and wrote an article about the role of design and creativity in addressing climate change: "Future Conditional: Artists and Designers at COP21." 

Tamim Ansary published an article in Huffington Post entitled "Islamic State: The Menace Is its Narrative." 

The Greater Good Science Center, which has collaborated with OLLI on past courses, publicized new research on the social, psychological, and physiological benefits of singing in a group. Many thanks to instructor Lauren Carley for calling our attention to this article, "The New Science of Singing Together." 

Joe Lurie will speak at a Commonwealth Club event in Palo Alto on March 30. The title of his talk is "Perceptions and Misperceptions in a Globalized Polarized World." Enter coupon code OSHER for an $8.00 discount when purchasing tickets. View event page.

Kathryn Roszak teaches a new movement/dance course for seniors: The Next Step 2 at 1201 University in Berkeley. Four-week sessions start 1/26. Roszak is also the recipient of a Barbro Osher Pro Suecia grant to produce a new dance film this year. Her company Danse Lumière dances at the new Berkeley Art Museum opening and produces the first Women Ballet Choreographers' Residency at the international Djerassi Resident Artists' Program. More info at dlkdance.com

Fourth Age Salon
OLLI @Berkeley's Fourth Age Salon, our group for members 80 and above, will meet Wednesday, January 20 from 10:30 to noon in University Hall, Room 41B. 

The agenda will include a presentation on transportation options for seniors in Berkeley and Oakland. Light refreshments will be served.

Travel Study
" Portrait of Italy" May 14 - 30, 2016
A literary, historical, and cultural tour of Italy led by OLLI instructor Beverly Allen. From the breathtaking Amalfi Coast to eternal Rome, through the gentle Umbrian and Tuscan countryside to timeless Venice, this leisurely tour showcases ancient sites, contemporary life, priceless art, and beautiful natural scenery. You'll appreciate the small size of your group as you stay in unique accommodations in the Tuscan countryside and a medieval village.

For more information,
 go to olli.berkeley.edu/travel  or contact Cal Discoveries at 888-225-2586 or  caldiscoveries@alumni.berkeley.edu

Upcoming Community Events

Well-known author and past OLLI speaker Gail Sheehy is the keynote speaker at a benefit for the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss.
January 30 at the Moraga Country Club
More information at http://celebratehearing.wix.com/2016

The Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies is hosting a lecture series. Upcoming events include:

Thursday, January 28
Stephanie Satie, "Silent Witnesses, a One-Woman Play 
The Marsh Theater 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley
6:00 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. showtime  

Wednesday, February 10
Ari Y. Kelman, " Festival Jewishness: Learning about Jews at Cultural Events"
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
6:00 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. lecture  

Thursday, February 18 
Michal Lemberger, "Women of the Bible: After Abel and Other Stories"
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
6:00 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. lecture

In Memoriam 2015
We were saddened to learn of the passing of retired civil rights attorney and longtime OLLI member Louis Katz in early December. His obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle highlights his accomplishments. 

Lunch Bunch

2235 Milvia Street, Berkeley

This is a small new place, across the street from Berkeley High School, and close to the OLLI classrooms.  It features "sushi burritos", giant sushi rolls filled with a variety of ingredients. You order your ingredients to build your own burritos or rice bowls at the counter, and everything is fresh and made to order. There's also corn miso soup and a few other choices for lighter appetites. Prices are moderate. This is not a place to sit and linger. It is essentially for take out, but it would be ideal for a quick bite that is healthy and unusual.

Lucille Poskanzer
January 2016

Member Benefits

Members of OLLI @Berkeley have access to the full range of OLLI programming and receive a Student ID card that is honored for discounts at a variety of campus and community locations. See offer details on OLLI's website and be sure to show your OLLI student ID.  

OLLI members receive a $10 discount on a $50 Senior Citizen annual membership at CAA.

OLLI members can join the UC Botanical Garden as Cal Affiliates and save $15 on a $55 annual membership.

Berkeley Arts and Letters offers OLLI members a student discount on tickets purchased through their website.
Read more
Show your OLLI student card and get 10% off at:

2087 Addison St.

Five Restaurant & Bar
2086 Allston Way

Turkish Kitchen
1986 Shattuck Ave.

Le Petit Cochon
1801C Shattuck Ave.

Phil's Sliders
2024 Shattuck Ave.
Read more