Vanderbilt Osher Lifelong Learning spring classes announced

members and guests of OLLI at Vanderbilt pose for photo outside of the Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery during an OLLI field trip..
Members and guests of OLLI at Vanderbilt enjoy the Journey to Jubilee history tour at Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery.

China’s modernization, “passion and fashion” in 19th-century Paris, singing in a musical ensemble and steps to writing a memoir. These are among the diverse courses offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt for spring 2023.

Other topics include meditative practice that spans Buddhist and Christian traditions, works of short fiction, the poetry of Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins and three levels of steel drum band. OLLI at Vanderbilt is open to all those who are 50 and older.

studio headshot of Norma Clippard by Vanderbilt University
Norma Clippard (Vanderbilt University)

“Spring is a wonderful time to meet and join with others who have a shared interest in academically stimulating, high-quality instruction,” said Norma Clippard, director of OLLI at Vanderbilt. “We also value our supportive learning environment and plan to continue meeting online and in person, with all classes recorded.”

Registration for the classes is open through March 10. Click OLLI at Vanderbilt to register.

The spring term comprises the following courses:

OLLI Steel Drum Band – Beginner, taught by Mat Britain, adjunct instructor in music. This musical journey to the Caribbean is a hands-on experience in which participants learn how to play the steel drums. Previous musical experience is helpful but not required. Students will meet for seven Sundays, beginning March 19, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Blair School of Music.

OLLI Steel Drum Band – Intermediate, taught by Britain. For students who have grasped the basics, this course helps to refine techniques on the steel pans. Students will work on slightly more difficult music and dive deeper into the culture of Trinidad and the steel band art form. Completion of the beginner course is a prerequisite unless the instructor grants permission through invitation or a short audition. Students will meet for seven Sundays, beginning March 19, from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. at the Blair School.

OLLI Steel Drum Band – Advanced, taught by Britain. This group, which often performs in the Vanderbilt Steel Bands concert, approaches music that is more difficult with advanced playing techniques. Completion of the beginner and intermediate classes is a prerequisite unless the instructor grants permission through invitation or a short audition. Students will meet for seven Sundays, beginning March 19, from 1 to 2:15 p.m. at the Blair School.

Meditating with the Living Buddha and the Living Christ, taught by Gordon Peerman, Episcopal priest, psychotherapist and mindfulness meditation teacher. This class, open to beginning and experienced meditators, invites a conversation between Buddhist meditative practice and Christian contemplative practice. Among questions the class will explore: How are the teachings of the Buddha and Christ different and similar? How does meditative practice bridge these two traditions? Students will meet for six Mondays, beginning March 20, from 10 to 11:15 a.m. online using Zoom.

China’s Modernization – Part B, taught by Samuel Kupper, associate professor emeritus of Chinese history, California State University, Fullerton. Kupper has traveled to China more than 150 times while working as an international trade consultant to companies seeking to do business there. This course is a continuation from the winter term of Kupper’s historical overview of China’s economic changes through the years. Students will look at the impact of the Cultural Revolution and the programs of Deng Xiaoping, which led to the opening of China and the incredible growth of China’s economy. The course concludes with a discussion of Xi Jinping and what his program might mean for China’s future. Students will meet for six Mondays, beginning March 20, from 2 to 3:15 p.m. online using Zoom.

Choral Singing, taught by Mary Combs, founder and director of the South Cheatham Choral Society. She will instruct singers in vocal techniques, musicianship, ear training and a bit of theory as students learn three or four songs. Those with previous experience, as well as those new to making beautiful music together, are welcome. Students will meet for six Tuesdays, beginning March 21, from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. at the Temple.

Passion, Fashion and Murder in 19th-century Paris, taught by Robert Barsky, professor of French, European studies, Jewish studies and law. He will bring to life well-known fictional Parisian characters from books by the likes of Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, Émile Zola, Rachilde and Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Barsky, who also is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, said that the course will enhance the enjoyment of reading the novels and short stories in which they “reside.” Students will meet for six Wednesdays, beginning March 22, from 2 to 3:15 p.m. online using Zoom.

Short Fiction: Analysis and Enjoyment, taught by Edward Friedman, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor Emeritus of Spanish. This course will explore strategies for analyzing and interpreting short works of narrative fiction. Works by authors Oscar Wilde, Colette, O. Henry, Kate Chopin, Sherwood Anderson, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Shirley Jackson, Donald Barthelme, Alice Munro and Ray Bradbury are among those highlighted. Students will meet for six Wednesdays, beginning March 22, from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. online using Zoom.

Finding God in all Creation: The Sacramental Poetics of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., taught by Victor Judge, assistant dean for academic affairs, Vanderbilt Divinity School. Judge will focus on Hopkins, a 19th-century British Jesuit priest-poet, with readings and discussions of works that illustrate his virtuosity as a wordsmith and the depths of his theological imagination. Students will meet for six Thursdays, beginning March 23, from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. at the Commons Center.

How to Write a Memoir, taught by Carole Moore-Slater, educator and community speaker. This is an eight-week workshop designed to motivate and inspire writers with guidelines and organizational tips on how to begin writing a personal or family story. All classes will be interactive with ideas shared, personal manuscripts read and group feedback provided. Students will meet for eight Thursdays, beginning March 23, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. online using Zoom.

All class meetings will be on Central time. Vanderbilt requests that those attending in person be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is housed within the Division of Government and Community Relations. For more information, call  Clippard at 615-322-5569.