OLLI Senior Seminars for July and August 2021

OLLI Senior Seminars for July and August 2021

Summer is here, and OLLI’s Senior Seminar schedule is brimming with 20 new courses in July and August. Summer seminars will focus on topics in art, film, health, history, literature, music, political science and religious studies. They will be offered in a variety of formats, including online, in-person and hybrid courses.

OLLI’s Senior Seminars are led by some of OU’s top professors and typically meet for two hours at a time. Each course runs for four to six week sand offers adult learners an open and welcoming environment in which they will explore fun, educational and inspiring concepts and topics with people of a similar age.

Be sure to sign up soon to save your spot before classes fill up, as many OLLI courses are known to sell out. For information about course availability, please contact OLLI directly at (405) 325-3488.

July Senior Seminars

JazzThe Jazz Experience

Jay Wilkinson

Thursdays | July 1-22
9-11 a.m.

A brief look at the history of jazz music combined with a performance component where students will learn to improvise. Students do not need to be instrumentalists to participate. All are welcome.


World happinessWorld Happiness

Michael Givel

Thursdays | July 1-29
9-11 a.m.

The use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has become an orthodox and almost universal global approach, based on economic progress, to measure the well-being of nation states. Recent critical assessments of GDP have noted that factors other than economics also matter, such as: environmental degradation, use of renewable energy, women’s empowerment, literacy, leisure time, family life, volunteerism, health, political and civil rights, education, unequal distributions of income and wealth, and employment satisfaction. Given this trend and critique, in this class, we will compare and assess from a philosophical perspective various non-GDP views of happiness around the world. This class will also allow us to understand the policy, psychological and economic factors influencing governmental happiness policies. At the end of the class, students will assess the differences and similarities of 12 major happiness theories, both religious and secular, from the West and East to gain greater understanding of what it means to be happy around the planet.


Drawing natural worldDrawing the Natural World

Kylie Anderson

Fridays | July 2-Aug. 6
10-11:15 a.m.

In this course, students will practice drawing the natural world from direct observation, with the option to use photographs when useful. Students will learn methods for drawing plants, landscapes and animals. They will practice depicting the variation and repetition within organic materials and use atmospheric perspective to create an illusion of distance. All drawings can be completed with pencil and paper, with the option to integrate charcoal, ink or other drawing materials you have available.


Musical meaningMusical Meaning

Jeffrey Swinkin

Tuesdays | July 6-Aug. 10
10 a.m.-Noon

We all find music to be meaningful — emotional, dramatic, spiritual — but we often find it difficult to articulate precisely what those meanings are. Or we articulate them only to find that someone else describes the same music in very different terms. Indeed, music meaning is always at once present and elusive, and for centuries philosophers have grappled with it. In this course, we will survey what some of these philosophers have said. The principal topics will be emotion, representation, narrative, concepts and spirit. Each session will involve both lecture and discussion, the latter sometimes on assigned readings; in addition, we will listen to and interpret musical works. You need no technical musical training to take this class.


Recreational pianoRecreational Music Making for Piano

Jenna Klein

Tuesdays | July 6-27
10-11:45 a.m.

Recreational Music Making (RMM) allows people from all walks of life to develop basic piano skills in an engaging and low-stress environment. This course is ideal for those who want to learn to play their favorite songs on piano, thought it was too late for them to learn, or took lessons years ago and want to play again. Students are provided an opportunity to explore the piano to learn fundamental piano technique, group playing and basic reading skills. The curriculum is self-paced and tailored to allow students to pursue their individual music goals in a non-performance based, stress-free context.

In this month-long course, students will learn piano playing fundamentals like finger numbers, keyboard geography, the music alphabet, rhythm, reading on the grand staff, basic chords and playing from lead sheets. The course will include learning songs that are popular favorites and adaptations of classical standards. Participants will also be given opportunities to choose their own favorite songs to learn. Solo and group playing will be incorporated in this collaborative, fun setting.

Regardless of piano background, RMM participants will find many benefits to classes. Along with the development of piano skills, participants will achieve independence, musical expression and a sense of accomplishment.


Understanding statisticsUnderstanding Statistics in the News

Kimball Martin

Wednesdays | July 7-28
10-11:30 a.m.

News and expert opinions are filled with inaccuracies and conflicting conclusions, some malicious. In this modern age of both science and misinformation, how do you separate fact from fiction? Is this new drug really a miracle cure? Can you trust a financial expert who claims to be able to beat the market? Was the last storm really proof of climate change? We will study how to honestly interpret statistics and evaluate reasoned arguments, exposing common fallacies and biases in news, advertising and elsewhere. From basic concepts in logic, probability and statistics, we will develop skills in quantitative reasoning, giving you the tools to evaluate such claims for yourself.


RevelationsThe Book of Revelations

Jill Hicks-Keeton

Thursdays | July 8-29
9:30-11 a.m.

This class will offer a deep dive into one of the Bible’s most controversial books, with attention to the apocalypse’s historical origins under the Roman empire and its reception through time as it shaped imaginations about the end of the world.


Law - sociologicalLaw in the Sociological Perspective

Kelly Tabbutt

Fridays | July 9-30
10 a.m.-Noon

This course will discuss the structure and function of law using a sociological perspective. This course will view law and the legal system as a social institution and look at its role in interpreting, shaping and maintaining societal norms in the life of individuals, groups and other institutions. Particular attention will be given to the role of law in other institutions within the criminal justice system (law enforcement agencies, courts, jails/prisons).

The course will discuss the definition of law as an institution which plays an integral part in the process of normalizing codified laws and shaping their meaning through judicial application. This course will consider different sociological perspectives on the significance and function (role) of law in society. This course will discuss the “codification-realization gap” — the gap between the meaning intended in the law as written by legislators (the “word” of the law) and the meaning manifested in law as interpreted and applied by judicial actors (the “spirit” of the law).

The perspective taken is that some form of law exists in all societies and in all time periods, and that at base law is defined as a normative, collectively recognized system of stable societal rules that are enforced by a designated segment of the society charged with the role of law enforcement.


History of RockHistory of Rock: How Race Relations and The Cold War Shaped America’s Most Popular Genre

Caleb Westby

Fridays | July 9-Aug. 13
9-11 a.m.

History of Rock is a survey course in which students will observe the relationships between popular American music genres and historical events, movements and happenings during the 20th century. Musicians covered in this survey include: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, James Brown, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, to name a few! Beyond simply retelling the stories of rockers, we will also take a look at the events that defined American culture in the latter half of the 20th century such as The Cold War and the Civil Rights movement, and how the ripples of these things are still felt in music and culture today.


MeditationMeditation from A to Z

Haven Tobias

Mondays | July 12-Aug. 2
2-3:30 p.m.

Or maybe just from Simple to Sublime. How to do it so you’ll stick to it. Let’s spend the hot summer afternoons chilling together.


OLLI Discussion GroupOLLI Discussion Group

Wednesdays| *July 14-Dec. 15
10-11:30 a.m.

*July 14-Aug. 18, Zoom
*Aug. 25-Dec. 15, In-Person

The discussion group will meet weekly on Wednesday mornings for OLLI members who would like to share their ideas, feelings and concerns about what’s going on in our world. The purpose is fellowship and learning together through sharing concerns and ideas while responding to others’ initiation of other ideas. This is not your typical OLLI course led by a faculty member. YOU become the leaders and decide what to talk about.


Writing PoetryWriting Poetry

Julie Ann Ward

Fridays | July 30-Aug. 20
-11:30 a.m.

In this course, participants will read and discuss contemporary poetry, and learn techniques for writing their own poems. Class time will be dedicated to reading and discussing the form and content of various poets, working with prompts to write original poems, and sharing work with the group for comments and feedback. No previous creative writing experience required.


August Senior Seminars

Indigenous Literature Latin AmericaIndigenous Literatures in Latin America

Christian Elguera

Mondays | Aug. 2-30
10 a.m.-Noon

This course aims at introducing students to a diverse corpus of indigenous literature in Latin America. By way of exploring a number of short stories, novel excerpts and poetry by indigenous authors, the instructor will explain the political roles of non-human entities, such as mountains, animals, plants and spirits into native Lands and their mobilizing impact on social movements. Students will analyze a wide spectrum of literary pieces by Amerindian writers, namely Luis de Lion (Maya), Adriana Paredes Pinta (Mapuche), Dida Aguirre (Quechua), Daniel Munduruku (Munduruku), among others. In order to enhance students’ understanding of this writing, every class focuses on discussing topics such as cosmologies, ecological destruction, migration and territorial dispossession. With this objective in mind, the course invites us to identify the links between ancestral knowledge, literature and the struggles for social justice. Following the critical method of close reading, we will examine the selected texts in English translations.


Hip Hop Baby BoomersHip Hop for Baby Boomers

Catherine John

Wednesdays | Aug. 11-Sept. 15
10 a.m.-Noon

The instructor teaches a general education course called Hip Hop as Poetry, Literature and Cultural Expression. This class, Hip Hop for Baby Boomers, will be aimed at giving enrollees a basic introduction to the music and culture that has heavily influenced their children and grandchildren. In the era of George Floyd, the instructor believes that this course and the way it is taught will be enlightening and help the enrollees to gain insight into a wide variety of perspectives related to the culture of grassroots African Americans.


Film NoirHistory and Impact of Film Noir

Brittney Brown

Thursdays | Aug. 12-Sept. 2
1-2:30 p.m.

Film noir, a crime genre with a distinctive black and white style, appeared mostly in America for only about 20 years in the mid-20th century, but it has had lasting impact on American film and television ever since. From Double Indemnity  (1944) to Strangers On A Train  (1951), it engaged with some of the most important questions of modernity right after the Great Depression and into the postwar years. We will study film style, literary adaptations, influences on modern films and more to explore why film noir still resonates with audiences today.


ShakespeareTwo Plays by Shakespeare: Macbeth and Measure for Measure

David Anderson

Wednesdays | Aug. 25-Sept 15
3-5 p.m.

In this seminar, we will discuss two of Shakespeare’s later plays, a tragedy (Macbeth) and a so-called “problem play” (Measure for Measure). In each session, after a brief introduction we will read and discuss key scenes. We will start on the first day with Acts 1-2 of Macbeth.


Major Global Security IssuesMajor Global Security Issues

Rob Andrew

Wednesdays | Aug. 25-Sept. 15
9:30-11:30 a.m.

COVID-19, hurricanes, fires, riots in the Capitol, wars, disease, hunger, poverty, unemployment, nuclear proliferation, criminal cartels, rising oceans, pollution, climate change, migration, food and water insecurity, political upheaval, terrorism... it is enough to make you never want to go out your front door again. With this in mind, what is global security? What are some of the most pressing and major global security issues that demand our immediate attention and action as the Biden Administration gets settled? What efforts are made to ameliorate the most dangerous aspects of global insecurity? This course is designed to try and answer these relevant and timely questions.


Arab - Israeli ConflictEvolution of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (1948–2021)

D Gershon Lewental

Thursdays | Aug. 26-Oct. 7
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

*Class does not meet Sept. 16.

This course continues the exploration of the Arab-Israeli conflict that covered its roots from the start of Zionism in 1882 to the establishment of Israel in 1948. We will pick up following the 1948 War and cover the evolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict from one between Israel and Arab states to one between Israel and the Palestinian people, to the eventual entry into the conflict of new radical Islamist actors. Our course will cover the major developments of the conflict, such as the 1967 War, the Palestinian resistance movement, the 1973 War, the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, the First Lebanon War, the Palestinian Intifāḍah and the Oslo Peace Process. We will conclude the class by looking at several contemporary dimensions of the conflict, including the potent force of radical Islam, the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the continued evolvement of Israeli and Palestinian identities.


Emily DickinsonThe Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Chris Carter

Fridays | Aug. 27-Sept. 24
2-3:30 p.m.

This course is an introduction to the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Widely hailed as one of America’s greatest poets, her reputation has been steadily enhanced. New scholarship continues to see her from different angles. We will meet five times and discuss her work under the following headings:

  • Aug. 27: Dutiful Daughter or Feminist Fighter
  • Sept. 3: Religious Rorschach Test
  • Sept. 10: Joy and Grief, Life and Death
  • Sept. 17: Gardens, Nature and Climate Change
  • Sept. 24: Postmodernist Prophet

On the first meeting of the class, we will issue packets of most of the poems to be discussed and dive right in. Thomas H. Johnson’s one-volume Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, available in paperback, is a valuable reference text.


Poetry ClubPoetry Club

David Anderson

Mondays | Aug. 30, 2021-April 25, 2022
5-6:30 p.m.

2021:Aug. 30, Sept. 27, Oct. 25 and Nov. 29

2022:Jan. 31, Feb. 28, March 28 and April 25

The Poetry Club will specialize in the close analysis of English verse. Each month we will discuss a specific poem from English literary history, focusing on one or more short poems. We will begin with a brief discussion of the poet in question and will guide the group through an analysis of the work.

OU logo

Myk Mahaffey

Michael Mahaffey holds degrees in journalism and psychology. He is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience writing for print and digital publications, including award-winning coverage of the rodeo industry. In his spare time, he writes fiction, in addition to tinkering with graphic design and photography.