Current Minicourses

Minicourses: Spring 2020
Chase Room, Madison Public Library

Sponsored by the Friends of the Madison Public Library

Registration will begin on Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Please do not mail your registration early.
Only mail received after the registration date will be processed.

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The Beginning and Ending of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process by  Dr. Noah Haiduc-Dale; Monday mornings, 10 am-12 pm; March 30, April 6, (skip 13), 20, 27 and May 4.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been at the center of global attention for decades, though the conflict itself dates back to the late 19th century. This course highlights the origins of the struggle as well as major turning points in its nearly 150-year history. We will explore events such as the creation of Israel in 1948, regional wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973, as well as the Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s. Yet, it was the Oslo Accords of 1993 that jumpstarted the peace process and earned three politicians the Nobel Prize. Now, less than 30 years later that peace process has ended and there is little hope of it being resurrected. The course seeks to explain Oslo’s failure and looks to possible paths forward in the near future.

March 30:      Before 1948: The Origins of the Conflict

April 6:           1948-1988: Setting the Stage

April 20:         1988-1993: Palestinian Uprising and a Peace Accord

April 27:         1994-?: The Oslo Years

May 4:            The Current Reality and Paths Forward

Dr. Haiduc-Dale is Associate Professor of History at Centenary University, Hackettstown, NJ.  He earned his Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies and History at New York University.  He completed a M.A. in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona and another in English at Central Michigan University.  His book, Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine: Communalism and Nationalism,’ focuses on the relationship between Palestinian Christians and the nationalist movement during a time of dramatic change in Palestine.  His current research focuses on the environmental history of the Persian/Arabian Gulf.


Charles Dickens and his Great Expectations by Vandana Walia, Tuesday mornings, 10 am-12 pm; March 31, April 7, 14, 21 and 28

Dickens, often called the giant of Victorian literature was a writer like no other. His remarkable gift for storytelling, his unmatched ability at blending pathos and humor, and his skill at crafting unforgettable characters is unparalleled. He enjoyed fame not only during his lifetime but went on to become a favorite with generations of readers across the world.
His own story was as interesting as the ones he was so adept at creating and this course will focus on Dickens the man, his life and his works. We will then go on to a discussion of Great Expectations, a novel of his mature years and a brilliant study in the complexities of human nature.  Please read and bring to the class any edition of the novel. I will be using the Barnes and Noble edition.
March 31:      A talk on the life and works of Dickens.
April 7:           The events and circumstances which influenced his greatest novels, and his unique characters, many of whom were based on real people.
April 14:         An introduction to Great Expectations, with emphasis on plot and structure.
April 21:         Themes, symbols and characters in the novel.
April 28:        The climax, resolution and the famous two endings. A discussion on what makes the book one of Dickens’ best works.

Vandana Walia has a masters degree in English and has been teaching literature courses at Osher Life Learning Institute, Rutgers for several years. Her special interests include but are not limited to 19th century British novels and mysticism in world poetry.

American Political History 1974 To Yesterday by Dr. Perry Leavell, Tuesday afternoons, 1:30-3 pm; March 31, April 7, 14, (skip 21), 28 and May 5.   From the 1970s to today, Americans have become increasingly divided by issues of race, economics, gender, identity, and education.  Technology, demography and globalization have made Americans richer but also ignited impeachments, culture wars and political polarization.  The goal of this class will be to create a story line that will provide a context for understanding these changes.

Dr. Perry Leavell is Emeritus Professor of History, Drew University.  He earned a BA  from Emory University and a PhD with distinction from Tulane University.

Music in America: The Modern Age by Dr. Robert Butts; Wednesday afternoons, 1:30-3:30 pm; April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

The 1890s was a turning point in many ways for America in terms of politics, technology, world affairs, social concerns and in the arts.  By 1920, America had become a leader in music both from the creative and the technological perspectives as recording, film, and broadcasting set new standards.  Broadway, jazz, film scores, opera, folk, concert work, dance, country, pop, swing, and rock were dominated by American composers, songwriters, and performers.  Styles changed as the country experienced prohibition, the depression, two world wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, social awareness, and political tension.  Explore the creative and interpretive artists that made Music in America a force in world culture starting at the turn of the century into the Modern Age.

Dr. Robert Butts has won acclaim as conductor, composer and educator.  He is the director of the Baroque Orchestra of NJ, now in its 25th season.  In 2019, he won the Morris County Not-For-Profit Award for Exemplary Leadership.  He teaches/lectures at Montclair State University, the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University, NJ Council for the Humanities and the College of Saint Elizabeth. 


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