Current Minicourses

Minicourses: Winter/Spring 2019
Chase Room, Madison Public Library

Sponsored by the Friends of the Madison Public Library

Registration will begin on Friday, January 4, 2019
Please do not mail your registration early.
Only mail received after the registration date will be processed.


The last class for Dr. Butts on “Russian Composition” will be held on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 1:30 pm to make up for the snow day.
NOTE: Classes: Feb 6, 13, 27, March 6 and 13.

The World Wars and the Great Dictators:  Europe 1914-1945  Dr. Jonathan Rose

Franklin Roosevelt and American Democracy: 1933-1945 with Dr. Perry Leavell

Romanticism and Modernism: The Story of Russian Composition from Glinka to Shostakovich with Dr. Robert Butts:
Please note that the first class will now be held 1:30 pm, Wednesday, February 6, 2019.  The class previously scheduled for Jan 30 has been cancelled; a class has been added on Wednesday, March 6.  The new schedule is as follows:  5 Wednesdays at 1:30 pm:  Feb 6, 13, 20, 27 and March 6. We regret if this has caused any inconvenience.  Thank you.

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Art That Can Take Your Breath Away
Dr. Barbara Tomlinson
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., Monday, Jan 28, February 4, 11, 18, 25, 2019

This course will revisit some of the most memorable artists and works I have covered in over twenty years of presentations. Some are familiar “masterpieces”, others are less well known, but all have that spark of inspiration that speaks to us across time and space.
January 28 and February 4, Portraits: The Perennial Favorite; from Nefertiti to the Boit Sisters
February 11: History, Biblical and secular; from Medieval Embroidery to Rembrandt
February 18 , Cities: the non Landscape; Caillebotte and Estes
February 25, Making a Statement: Artists mixing it Up , DeFeo, Antin and Shimomura

Dr. Barbara Tomlinson earned degrees from Barnard, Harvard and Rutgers and taught Western Cultural history for 20 years. She was the Course Coordinator of the humanities component of Kean University’s General Education Program before retirement.

How Things Work–Physical Concepts in Our Daily World
Dr. Robert Fenstermacher
10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday, January 30, February 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2019

Are you curious about how things work? Explore some everyday familiar devices and phenomena as the route to a better understanding of basic physical concepts. For example the operation of a furnace, wood stove, and incandescent light bulb all depend on concepts related to heat and thermodynamics. Other possible concepts and devices to be discussed include the energy and motion of objects; the nature of light with sunlight, light bulbs, and lasers; periodic motion and resonance with clocks; and nuclear principles with nuclear reactors. The emphasis will be on non-mathematical explanations of physical concepts, and then applying these to see how a device works. Material will be presented via illustrated lectures, demonstrations, and simulations.

Dr. Robert Fenstermacher is professor of physics emeritus at Drew University. He has had a special interest in teaching science to non-scientists and taught the course How Things Work to non-science students at Drew for many years. Besides the traditional physics curriculum, he has taught courses on science and pseudoscience, the physics of high fidelity, and astronomy.

Romanticism and Modernism: The Story of Russian Composition from Glinka to Shostakovich
Dr. Robert Butts
1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6, 2019
Russian composition, like so much in the Russian arts, blossomed in the 19th century – The Romantic Era. Mikhail Glinka was the first Russian composer to achieve recognition and to inspire a Russian approach to composing. Composers such as Mussorgsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky created what became the Russian sound, one of the most popular of all concert styles. In the early 20th century, Igor Stravinsky blended elements of romanticism with new ideas as to harmony, melody, and orchestral possibilities while Sergei Rachmaninoff captured a new sense of Russian romanticism. The Soviet era produced many great and still popular composers, most notably Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Join Maestro Butts on this journey through some of history’s most influential and continuously popular masterpieces.

Dr. Robert Butts has won acclaim as a conductor, composer and educator, and is a frequent presenter in the minicourse program.

The World Wars and the Great Dictators: Europe 1914-1945
Dr. Jonathan Rose
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2019

This course focuses on the causes and consequences of the two world wars in Europe. We explore the failures of interwar diplomacy and the rise of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Special attention is devoted to the Russian revolution, Stalin’s terror, the Nazi Holocaust, and the peace settlement of 1945.

Recommended Reading:

  • Michael S. Neiberg, Fighting the Great War: A Global History
  • Peter Neville, Mussolini, 2nd ed.
  • Oleg V. Khlevniuk, Stalin
  • Joseph W. Bendersky, A Concise History of Nazi Germany, 4th ed.
  • George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
  • Jonathan Rose, The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor
  • Antony Beevor, The Second World War
  • Doris L. Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust, 3rd ed.

Jonathan Rose (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is the William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew. His fields of study are British history, intellectual history, and the history of the book. He is coeditor of the journal Book History, which won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals award for the Best New Journal of 1999. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cambridge and Princeton University, and he reviews books for the Times Literary Supplement and the Daily Telegraph (London). His most recent books are The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale UP, 2014), which won the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize; and Readers’ Liberation (Oxford UP, 2018).

Franklin Roosevelt and American Democracy: 1933-1945
Dr. Perry Leavell
1:30 pm to 3:00 pm Tuesday April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2019
The Great Depression, World War II, and the New Deal were the defining events of 20th century American life. We will explore some of the changes that occurred in the life of the nation and try to evaluate the heights of greatness that were achieved at home and abroad while also remembering the old and new problems that helped shape these years and the decades that followed.

Tchaikovsky: Russia’s Greatest Composer
Dr. Robert Butts
10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday, April 3, 10, 17, 24; May 1, 2019

Petr Iliych Tchaikovsky has been one of the most popular composers almost from the very beginning of his career. His symphonies, concertos and tone poems are played by every orchestra in the world. He was the first major concert composer to visit The United States when he conducted the opening concert of Carnegie Hall in 1891. His music is rooted in the traditions of Russian dance, sacred, and folk music blended with elements he absorbed from his beloved Italian, French, and German traditions. His music is the very essence of romantic passion, yet he took his inspiration from the classical ideals of Mozart and Beethoven.

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