OLLI Senior Seminars for October 2019

OLLI Senior Seminars for October 2019

The heat is slowly fading as autumn approaches, and OLLI is kicking off the season with 15 new courses covering art history, film, finance, health, history, literature, politics and science.

OLLI courses offer adult learners the opportunity to explore new topics and concepts in an educational, fun and inspiring way with other participants of a similar age in an open and welcoming environment. Senior Seminar courses are led by some of OU’s top professors and meet for two hours at a time, with most courses running four to six weeks in length.

Please note that many OLLI courses have been known to sell out. Please contact OLLI directly at (405) 325-3488 for information on course availability and be sure to sign up and save your seat before classes are full!

October Senior Seminars

Films on TexasModern But Still Mythic: Six Contemporary Films on Texas

Betty Robbins, Retired Professor

Tuesdays – Oct. 1 to Nov. 5

1 to 4 p.m.

As often as Texas life is made mythic on screen, it is deconstructed to show some radically tawdry behavior...like murder and mayhem. Yet the Lone Star State remains giant in character, setting, plot and pathos. The Big Bend area of Texas is the most isolated area in the continental United States and has been the setting for several highly compelling and successful films.

This course will examine six Texas films and discuss the depiction of the mythos, ethos, pathos—and chaos—of the desert west represented in the characters that populate these films. Films will be selected from the following: Fandango; Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmie Dean, Jimmie Dean; Lone Star; No Country for Old Men; Hud; Texasville; The Last Picture Show; Hell or High Water; Three Burials for Melquiades Estrada; There Will Be Blood; The Wild Bunch; Tender Mercies; Blood Simple.


Women OffendersWomen Offenders: Crime and Punishment

Joe Bogan

Wednesdays – Oct. 2-30

1:30 to 3 p.m.

Though crime is an overwhelmingly male phenomenon, women account for about seven percent of prison inmates in the United States today, or about 110,000 women. This course will explore gender differences with regard to crimes committed, sentences received, response to the punishment of imprisonment and rehabilitation of women. In terms of sentencing, the dysfunction of our current systems will be explored. The instructor will present theoretical views and research results on relevant issues. What the experience of prison is actually like for inmates will be presented in granular detail. Conversely, the instructor will talk about what it is like to work with incarcerated women, from the point of view of a former prison warden. The idea that offenders should be incarcerated “AS punishment and not FOR punishment” will be explored. What programs are helpful to women offenders will be examined. The instructor will integrate the stories of individual women in prison to illustrate the issues.


Chinese CultureChinese Culture and Communication

Paul B. Bell, Jr., Dean Emeritus

Thursdays – Oct. 3 to Nov. 7

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This course will provide an introduction to Chinese culture and how that culture affects Chinese thinking and Chinese communication styles. A Chinese person’s sense of identity is based on shared cultural beliefs and practices that have developed over 5,000 years, largely free of Western influence. This common cultural heritage confers on Chinese distinctive ways of perceiving themselves and the world around them and of interacting with others. In this course, we will examine the various features from which Chinese culture derives, including: a syncretic system of beliefs; reading, writing and thinking in Chinese characters; the centrality of the family; filial piety and respect for ancestors; personal relationships based on human feelings and a sense of mutual obligation; and dialectical thinking. Then we will go on to consider how Chinese culture has affected the development of Chinese communication practices and how it continues to affect interpersonal communication to the present day.


Before Downton AbbeyBefore Downton Abbey: Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers

Lisa Seale

Thursdays – Oct. 3 to Nov. 7

2 to 3 p.m.

Anthony Trollope, the 19th-century novelist who wrote over 50 novels in his spare time and invented the red pillar letterbox while serving the British postal service, was a funny, irreverent chronicler of upper and middle-class life in London and the British countryside. Julian Fellowes did the same for Edwardian Britain with Downton Abbey. Those who love that series can find new characters to love in Barchester Towers(1857), made into a Masterpiece series, The Barchester Chronicles(1982). Together we’ll watch scenes from both series to see where Fellowes, a Trollopian at heart (who also served as the Trollope Society’s president), may have taken inspiration. And we’ll look at what Trollope and Fellowes have to say about love and money—and true character. Please read Barchester Towersin advance of the first meeting.


Corporate CorruptionCorporate Corruption

Mary Carter, Retired Banker and Federal Reserve Bank Examiner

Thursdays –Oct. 3-24

10 to 11:30 a.m.

To preserve their positions of dominance in the market, many corporations have learned over the years how to manipulate the economic system of the United States to their advantage. In some cases, their business model exploited weaknesses in the economy to enrich them- selves while disadvantaging others. In addition, they developed ways to hide money using shell companies and overseas bank accounts in order to commit tax fraud. This class will reveal the many ways that these schemes have been carried out, consider the impact on the economy and explore possible ways to change things in the future.


Nuclear Arms RaceThe Nuclear Arms Race and the American West

Curtis Foxley, History

Thursdays – Oct. 3-24

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This course investigates how the nuclear arms race transformed the American West between 1941 and 1990. We will examine how nuclear weapon development and testing transformed western environments and cultures. Topics include: the Manhattan Project, uranium mining in New Mexico, nuclear testing in Nevada, aerospace culture in Southern California, protest movements surrounding nuclear weapons development and nuclear pop culture. This course is based on the instructor’s long-awaited Ph.D. dissertation.


French MasterpiecesMasterpieces of French Painting 1800-1870 and 19th-Century American Painting

Taught by Victor Youritzin, Professor Emeritus, Art History

Wednesdays – Oct. 9-30

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As a counterpart to Professor Youritzin’s annual class on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, this course presents masterpieces of French painting from 1800 to the start of Impressionism and treats such movements as Classicism, Romanticism and Realism. Artists discussed will include David, Ingres, Gericault, Delacroix, Daumier and Courbet (along with Goya, Constable and Turner outside France). Also examined is the history of 19th-century American painting, with special attention to such artists as Homer, Eakins, Sargent, Cassatt and Whistler.

This is the second section of this course. Content is the same as Section 1.


Will RogersThe Life of Will Rogers

Marvin Beck

Fridays – Oct. 11 to Nov. 15

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Will Rogers was a cowboy entertainer who became the most popular man in the United States, movie superstar and radio star. He wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns and was a bestselling author, a humanitarian and so much more. Called “America’s Aristophanes” by The New York Times, Will Rogers was the most beloved humorist of his time. If it is true that he never met a man he didn’t like, it’s also true that Rogers never met a man he didn’t like to make fun of. Everyone from congressmen and presidents to Hollywood movie moguls and industrialists bore the brunt of his gently lacerating wit—and seemed to be charmed in the process. This seminar will set the stage, using commentary, video, graphics and quotes to understand and appreciate the background, heritage, culture and history that helped to immortalize Oklahoma’s favorite son.


Understanding GriefUnderstanding Grief

Eric Vaughan

Wednesdays – Oct. 16 to Nov. 6

1:30 to 3 p.m.

Grief is a lot more than just feeling sad, and the process of bereavement is something we just don’t get over in three days of a clearly defined process. If a loved one has passed away, and you’d like to learn about the complexities of grief and the process of healing, join us for this informative course. The instructor served as a hospice counselor for 14 years and has companioned hundreds through the grieving process from all types of death. Although we’ll address the emotional side of grief, please note that is NOT a support group per se, but a chance to learn from the wisdom of those who didn’t “get over it,” but healed and did get through it.


Oklahoma Oil and GasHistory of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Industry

Dan Boyd

Mondays – Oct. 21 to Nov. 11

10 to 11:30 a.m.

Oil and gas have been produced in Oklahoma for over a century. Providing the incentive to turn the territory into a state, the geology of Oklahoma has combined with science and politics to create a fascinating story of how we got where we are today.


Wisdom YearsThe Wisdom Years, a Guide to Intentional Aging

Barbara S. Boyd

Tuesday and Wednesday – Oct. 22-23

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This course is designed more as a workshop than a lectureship, using the book (title of this course) as our guide for discussing, sharing, learning and creating new paths into the Wisdom Years. This course invites all ages to reflect on the time in life when we move from institutional obligations into the intentional stage of life where we have freedom and time for other long-desired pursuits. We will discuss the process of moving from employment to those years when we seek adventure, play, humanitarian work and depth—wisdom. We will also discuss the more practical matters of aging such as wills, health care, downsizing our spaces, family dynamics as well as planning for our death. This course will certainly look at some somber issues, but humor will be the key to our reflections and sharing of these tough topics. (The text may be purchased from Barnes and Noble or Amazon, or there will be books for sale the day of the course.)


Oklahoma's Historic PlacesOklahoma History Using the National Register of Historic Places

Glen Roberson

Thursdays – Oct. 24 to Nov. 14

10 to 11:30 a.m.

This course is a study of Oklahoma history from pre-historic times until the 21st century focusing on those buildings, sites and structures in Oklahoma listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. Each week will feature sites that highlight significant events and/or people central to the history of the state. Woven into Oklahoma’s history will be an introduction to the profession of historic preservation as practiced by the U.S Department of Interior, state agencies and private organizations, and the State Historic Preservation Office. By the end of this course, you will be learned not only in the history of our great state, but how to practice good preservation in your own home and community.


Greek MythologyGreek Mythology

Ralph E. Doty, Emeritus Professor of Classics and Letters

Wednesdays – Oct. 9-30

10 to 11:30 a.m.

Classical Greece has faded away, but it left its stories behind. We read them in our schools and watch them in films and television shows. What did they mean to the Greeks? What do they mean to us, and why are they still vital to our imaginations after 3,000 years? Take this class and find out! Our text will be Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.


Two OklahomasThe Two Oklahomas: Thirty-Eight Native American Indian Tribes...and the Rest of Us

Cal Hobson

Mondays – Oct. 21 to Nov. 11

1 to 3:30 p.m.

The title of this course may sound controversial and for some readers probably even wrong. To Cal Hobson, after decades of experience working with tribal and state governments, it sounds accurate, definitive and spot on. During his 28 years of elected service in the Legislature, this course instructor was directly involved in at least three major policy issues with one or more of the 38 tribes who call Oklahoma home. The topics all revolved around the sovereign powers of tribes vis a vis those of the state. At their core, it was always about money, as is usually the case on any matter of importance before the Legislature.

Specifically, the controversies in play were compacts, just another word for binding agreements between tribes and our state, as they related to tobacco, motor fuel and—the biggest one of all—gaming. All were very complex because each tribe is a separate and distinct nation with unique wants and needs, and what looks agreeable to one is a nightmare for another. Further complicating any negotiation was a dearth of knowledge, background or understanding by Oklahoma lawmakers of tribal law, customs, leaders, history and, critically, treaties from the distant past. After all, how many legislators arrive for duty at the capitol steeped in the intricacies of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830, the Dawes Act of 1887 or even the difference between the Choctaw Nation and the Choctaw Tribe? Answer: None, especially years ago when Native American tribes were often viewed by state lawmakers as just other special interests and, in fact, not very special at all.

So, with that as background, in this class we will discuss: How Oklahoma did indeed become “The Home of The Red Man,” and not just for the five civilized tribes exiled from the southeast but many from throughout the nation; the complexity and confusion between state and federal statutes; and finally, how bitter and longstanding arguments and stalemates turned into workable, fair and beneficial compacts.

The process related to gaming was especially bumpy at best and often appeared futile, but leaders such as Gov. Brad Henry, Chickasaw Gov.r Bill Anoatubby and Treasurer Scott Meacham proved to be statesmen, not politicians, while both tribal and Oklahoma legislators worked together to craft statutes that mirrored emerging compacts. And finally, the voters in November 2004 affirmed the multi- year efforts to create honest, transparent and taxable gaming on tribal lands by a vote of 53% to 47%, somewhat of a near miracle in itself. Today, Oklahoma, also the buckle of the Bible belt, is home to 135 casinos including one, Winstar near Thackerville, that boasts it is the largest in the world. Apparently, a bunch of those buckles enjoy rubbing up against blackjack and craps tables while trying not to bust over 21 or roll snake eyes!

Come join Cal and his several guests as they discuss, and maybe cuss, the two states of Oklahoma, one Native American, the other mostly white, with competing but sometimes complementary challenges, goals and opportunities. We ‘bet’ you’ll enjoy it.


Geologic ProcessesGeologic Processes that Impact Earth History and Humans: Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Glaciers

Ken Johnson, Geologist Emeritus

Thursdays – Oct. 24 to Nov. 14

10 to 11:30 a.m.

This Senior Seminar includes presentations on four of the geologic processes that have had, and will have, major impacts upon life on Earth. Non-technical discussions, illustrated with many beautiful slides—and a bit of humor—are well-suited for the interested layperson. Come and learn more about major geologic processes, and how they have impacted Earth history and Oklahoma. This seminar is an update of presentations given at OLLI in 2014. Plate tectonics, the driving force of our dynamic Earth, entails the movement of seven large plates and a number of smaller plates of the Earth’s crust at speeds of about 1 to 2 inches per year. These crustal movements, well-documented since the early 1960s, explain the location and intensity of most of Earth’s volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Volcanoes are openings in the Earth’s crust that allow molten rock (lava), volcanic ash and gases to escape to the surface. The Earth currently has about 1,500 “active” volcanoes (activity within the past 10,000 years), and almost all of them are located along, or near, the tectonic-plate boundaries. The United States has more than 150 active volcanoes, mostly in Alaska and to a lesser extent in the western third of the lower 48 states.

Earthquakes and tsunamis are the most devastating of Earth’s processes. Most large earthquakes occur at tectonic-plate boundaries and are triggered by the movement of plates past or under each other. Earthquakes that occur beneath the oceans, or in coastal areas, can generate tsunamis when large masses of the earth are thrust up (or down) and trigger displacement of large volumes of water. Waves created by water displacement move across the ocean at about 500 miles/hour and then surge over coastal areas.

Glaciers, fjords and icebergs, how they form, and the landforms they create. Most common in the polar regions, and in many mountain areas throughout the world, vast ice sheets and glaciers cover about 10 percent of Earth’s land area. While “flowing” slowly from higher to lower elevations, glaciers have ground away at the underlying Earth and have sculpted the landscape of much of the world today.

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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.