Course Descriptions: Winter 2018

Bruce Colwell: Northfield 1968

8 Mondays, 9:30-11:30, Northfield Senior Center 106.
Tuition $50. Limit: 18

Fifty years ago, 1968, was a pivotal year of momentous events and significant changes for the world, the United States, and for Northfield Minnesota. A 2012 Minnesota Historical Society exhibit and book, The 1968 Project: A Nation’s Coming of Age, suggested that “Nineteen sixty-eight was a knife blade that severed past from future, Then from Now…In 1968 the American exceptionalism perished, but it was reborn in a generational exceptionalism – the divine dispensation thought to be granted to the children of the great baby boom. The young were special, even sacred, in a way that America once was special and sacred.”

This course will explore the history of Northfield in 1968, primarily through the pages of the Northfield News, and the recollections of those who lived it. Our discussions will be informed by three readings: The 1968 Project: A Nation’s Coming of Age (MHS); 1968 in America: Music, Politics, Chaos, Counterculture, and the Shaping of a Generation (Kaiser); and an historical essay, Carleton 1968 (Colwell). With this historical context, we will share our personal experience of 1968, and the meaning and significance it had for Northfield and for each of us, then and now, fifty years later.

For an expanded description, click here.

Bruce W. Colwell, a Northfield resident since 1988, served as Associate Dean of Students at Carleton, and has authored three local history books – on the history of the Northfield Public Library, on the Prairie Creek Community School, and on the Carleton Chapel.

Rich Noer: Gravity – From Aristotle to Einstein and Beyond

8 Mondays, 1:30-3:30, Village on the Cannon.
Tuition $50. Limit: 20

Of the fundamental forces of physics, gravity is at once the most familiar in everyday life, but has arguably been the most difficult for physicists to understand. Why do things fall? We’ll examine the most important and successful of the many attempts through history to answer this question, beginning with early Greek cosmology built on the idea of natural place and the four terrestrial elements; continuing through Newton’s postulate of a universal attraction, the mechanism for which was unclear; and culminating with Einstein’s view of gravity as primarily an effect of a distorting point of view (reference frame). Then we’ll turn to some of the predictions of Einstein’s theory, including black holes and gravitational waves, and some of its current problems, including dark matter and dark energy and its failure to incorporate quantum ideas. We’ll conclude by examining the much-heralded first direct detection, in January 2016, of a gravitational wave event – an event attributed to a spectacular collision between two black holes. All this will be done with words and pictures and (rarely) the simplest of equations.  This is a repeat of a Winter 2017 CVEC course.

For an expanded description, click here.

Rich Noer taught physics for 38 years at Carleton. Courses connecting the sciences with the humanities, usually through history and philosophy, were a special interest.


Marie Gery: Dorothy Parker’s “Waltz” with James Thurber

8 Tuesdays, 1:30-3:30, Village on the Cannon.
Tuition $50. Limit: 18

James Thurber may have ignored Dorothy Parker’s “Waltz,” but he made up for this by writing “The Night the Bed Fell.” Humor at its best from the pens and typewriters of two very different folks. Chances are that both of these pieces can be found somewhere on the internet; but, in truth, they are even more funny when you hold the book in your hand. As class continues, we will branch out to other writers of humor. Books to consult are, for Thurber, My Life and Hard Times and/or The Thurber Carnival and, for Parker, The Portable Dorothy Parker.

Marie Gery reads and writes and cooks and would probably waltz if only she knew how. She has taught several CVEC courses. Before that, she started her career by teaching first grade and ended up teaching grad school. There are more funny stories from first grade! Her philosophy of learning is that folks learn more and faster if they enjoy their time in the class.

Eric Nelson & Steve Kelly: Hollywood Musicals

8 weeks, 2 sections: Wednesdays 9:30-11:30 and Fridays 9:30-11:30, film showing (combined sections): Tuesdays 3:30.
Northfield Retirement Center’s Nygaard Theater.
Tuition $50. Limit: 20 in each section

Exactly ninety years ago film found its synchronized “voice”. But 1927’s The Jazz Singer didn’t just give voice to text, its six songs gave voice to music as well. Since then, musical films have had a significant place in American film history, sometimes at its center, sometimes at its periphery. In this course we’ll explore seven classic Hollywood film musicals. Some – West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Cabaret – began as theatrical productions. Others – Swing Time, Stormy Weather, Singin’ in the Rain – were conceived as movies. One, Beauty and the Beast, began as an animated feature, morphed into a highly successful stage musical, and morphed yet again into a live-action movie. We will be looking at its latest 2017 incarnation.

The class will be team-taught by Steve Kelly and Eric Nelson. Written introductions will be provided for each of the films. For those who don’t have access to the films (e.g. through Netflix) there will be a common viewing scheduled in the Nygaard Theater.

Eric Nelson is Professor Emeritus of English at St. Olaf College, where he taught film classes and screenwriting as well. His son, Benno, with whom he collaborated on a screen-play, is creative director of his own production company in Hollywood.

Stephen Kelly retired in 2011 from Carleton College after teaching music history and early music performance for thirty-seven years. For the Elder Collegium he has taught courses on jazz history and the American songbook. He plays sax and clarinet in Occasional Jazz.


Richard Collman: Haydn in Plain Sight

8 Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30, Village on the Cannon.
Tuition $50. Limit: 18

Haydn wrote a lot of music, but how much do we really know about his life and music? Using as a guide the readable book by Calvin R. Stapert called Wisdom Ever Plays Before the Lord, this course will look at the life and times of “Papa Haydn” to discover that we really may know more than we think. Class members do not have to be musicians. We will illustrate his life with musical examples and “The Creation.” In Stapert’s words, “Listening to Haydn’s music gives us cause to rejoice because it is a revelation of grace, a case in point of the way things really are.”

Richard Collman is a retired minister-musician in Northfield who has served in various capacities over the years in music, promotion of the fine arts, and teaching of diverse CVEC courses. He relishes the symmetry, surprise, and humor in Haydn’s music that will be explored in this class.

Kate Douglas: Reading a Work of Art – Another Way of Looking at 20th Century Modern Art

8 Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30, Northfield Senior Center 106.
Tuition $50. Limit: 18

Using the context of vast cultural, social & political changes in the 20th century, students in this course will examine several movements and artists during this period. Specific scholarly articles that address 20th century modern art will be assigned and discussed. Students will be responsible for researching and presenting the works of at least two artists from this period. A significant component of the course will include artistic experiments of techniques used by specific artists from this period.

After receiving a B.A. in Visual Art and K-12 Education, Kate Douglas began her career as an art educator in public schools, including the Northfield school district for 23 years. After earning an M.A. in Studio Art, she continued to teach K-12 visual art plus added experiences in post-secondary, first at St. Olaf College, Augsburg College, and St. Catherine College (now University). Kate also designed curriculum in Northfield based on the incorporation of art history. She became a full-time Assistant Professor of Arts and Education at St. Kate’s in 1999. Throughout her teaching she continued to make and exhibit her own art. After having taught at every level over 46 years and (sort of) retiring, she decided to return to Northfield and teach classes at the Northfield Senior Center and the Elder Collegium.


Gary Hoganson: An Inside Look at Our Business Neighbors

8 Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30,
Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce, 530 Wilson Ave.
Tuition $50. Limit: 20

This course was developed from curiosity about the businesses around the Faribault area. What really goes on beyond those front doors that we drive by? What do those businesses make, do, produce, and distribute? What does their marketing and distribution network look like? What legacy did the original founders of the businesses leave with us? In this course we will get an inside look at and hear from many of the original founders of these businesses. We will travel through their past to their future. What is their history? Can they tell us any inside stories regarding their road to success? Each week we will hear from a representative of a business that has made an important impact in our community and beyond. Each week class members will leave saying, “I didn’t know they made that or did that in Faribault.”

A retired educator in the LeCenter and Faribault School Districts, Gary Hoganson is currently a member of the Faribault CVEC planning committee.

Richard W. Bodman: China Inside Out 中国里里外外

8 Thursdays, 9:30-11:30 (Jan. 11-Mar. 8; no class Feb. 1), Village on the Cannon. Tuition $50. Limit: 18

This course is an attempt to give the English-speaking non-specialist reader an inside view of China. No previous knowledge of China is necessary. The class tells the story of China, past and present, through the voices of insiders, from philosophers such as Confucius and Mao, to their contemporary critics, and from classical poets to ordinary people in the city and countryside. We will examine China’s enduring classical culture, its folk culture, as well as contemporary life in China. The roles of women in Chinese society will be a thematic thread that links many of the sessions. History and social science will not be directly addressed in the readings but will often come up in discussions. Many of our readings will be from original sources, translated, edited, and commented by the instructor; some will be essays by the instructor and others. The 400+ page anthology of readings will be produced at cost. Readings for each class average between 30-60 pp., but there is one class with no assignments, and one class with a long assignment of over 100 pp. There will be an optional trip to the Chinese section of the Minneapolis Institute of Art on a Saturday morning. This course is a repeat of one offered previously in CVEC.

For an expanded description, click here.

Richard Bodman, PhD (Cornell 1978), taught Chinese language, literature, and Asian Studies at St. Olaf College from 1980 to 2006. He has escorted student and faculty groups to China for St. Olaf and for various other organizations and has taught English at East China Normal University in Shanghai on three occasions.


John Matthews: The Holocaust as a Christian Tragedy

4 Thursdays, 1:30-3:30 (Jan. 4, 11, 25; Feb. 1), Village on the Cannon. Tuition $30. Limit:18

This course will describe and discuss the churches “response” to the attempted extermination of Europe’s Jews (and other “undesirables”) by the Nazis between 1933-1945. Beginning with an overview of Post World War I Germany, the Roman Catholic and Protestant responses to the Nazi regime will be discussed, including the climate of racism and the role of Christian anti-Judaism. The heroism of the rescuers, along with the failure of ordinary Christians and institutions, will be highlighted. The final session will address ongoing issues for Jewish-Christian relations in our time, important issues relating back to the Holocaust. Most people understand that the Holocaust was a Jewish catastrophe; this course will examine the tragic dimension of the churches’ complicity. Participants will be invited to purchase copies of The Holocaust and the Christian World ($15) as an excellent resource; it is out of print but the instructor has obtained enough copies for the participants.

This is a repeat of a Winter 2017 CVEC course.

Rev. John Matthews is an ELCA pastor currently serving Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, Minnesota, and is an adjunct professor of religion at Augsburg College. John’s early interest – and graduate study – about the theology and martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer led to further research into the Church’s confrontation with the National Socialist regime in Germany, especially regarding the Christian roots of anti-Judaism. Pastor Matthews has discovered that engaging this topic with openness and honesty helps Christians today live more authentic and credible lives.

Bill Carlson: United States Economic Story

8 Fridays, 9:30-11:30, Northfield Senior Center 106.
Tuition $50. Limit: 18

–––––––––Course cancelled––––––––

This course will begin with the industrial revolution in Britain. That foundation will be linked to a rapidly expanding economy, which led to world economic leadership by 1900. Economic change will be traced from that time through and after the great 20th century depression, examining factors leading to the collapse and the lessons learned. The more egalitarian economy after World War II and the changes leading to our present economy will be explored. We will be viewing this later part of history from personal memory. Background readings for each class will be supplied through the “One Drive”. We will provide an easy way for you to access that material as a member of the class. This course is a repeat of one offered previously in CVEC.

For an expanded description, click here.

Bill Carlson is Professor Emeritus in Economics at St. Olaf College. His principal teaching emphasis was statistics and quantitative economics. He led a number of International Study Programs to many places in the world. He has written three textbooks and numerous papers, including considerable research on highway accidents. He was the only member of the St. Olaf faculty with an undergraduate degree in Mining Engineering and an honorary election to Phi Beta Kappa.


Becka Coates, Colleen Eckman, Chris Faust, & Katie Sparling: Japanese-American Mission of Friendship

3 Fridays, 1:30-3:30 (Feb. 9, 16, 23), field trip Friday Mar. 2, time to be decided. Northfield Senior Center 106. Tuition $30. Limit: 18

Ninety-plus years ago the climate surrounding U.S. immigration differed little from today’s. In this class you’ll learn how tensions between Japan and U.S. were eased when children offering gifts became unwitting ambassadors for peace. First, we will explore some history and culture of Japan, followed by a closer look at the friendship doll exchange between our two countries. The class culminates with a field trip to MN History Center to see Japan’s 1928 gift of Miss Miyazaki to the people of Minnesota, having recently returned from restoration in Tokyo.

When Becka Coates was eleven, her family hosted a Japanese foreign exchange student for a year; Aiko and Becka have remained fast friends ever since. Becka’s interest in Japanese culture began then and expanded when Miss Miyazaki’s story blossomed, as it intersected nicely with her lifelong interest in dolls. Becka’s hope is that the story of Miss Miyazaki and her presence will remind us all of the importance of building bridges between cultures. Colleen Eckman and Chris Faust are doll collectors from the Twin Cities with a shared interest in the exchange of friendship dolls between the United States and Japan in 1927. They were actively involved with the Minnesota Jamboree Council in raising funds for the restoration of Minnesota’s own Japanese Friendship Doll, Miss Miyazaki. Katie Sparling taught Japanese language and literature for 43 years, the last 33 at Carleton. She has lived in Japan for nearly fifteen years and now spends roughly half her time there, mainly in Kyoto.