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Learning in retirement announces winter offerings

The Institute for Learning in Retirement has a six-course lineup for its winter offering with subjects ranging from foreign policy to film musicals.

All but one of the courses begin next week, each starting on a different week day. Four of them run for eight weeks, and two of them run for four weeks. The costs ranges from $20 to $50.

One that drew substantial interest – the course is full and wait-listed – is a four-week examination of “The Trees,” the first book of a trilogy by Conrad Richter about the settling of the Ohio frontier in the late 18th and early 19th century, an account that despite being a work of fiction has many parallels with David McCullough’s “The Pioneers.”

McCullough and Richter in fact knew one another, said instructor Carol Steinhagen, and Richter was an advocate for McCullough when he was a young author.

Richter’s trilogy describes the trials of a family that sets out for the Ohio River Valley from their home in Pennsylvania. “The Trees” is the first book of the set.

“When I was teaching at Marietta College, I bought ‘The Trees’ as part of a women’s studies course,” said Steinhagen, a retired professor of literature. “The trilogy evolved from a pattern of squatter settlements and it shows the evolution of community and politics in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. What intrigued me was that the central character is a woman, just an extraordinary person, and it’s quite remarkable that a male author would have conceived this story of this period of time featuring a woman.”

Although “The Pioneers” is scholarly history and “The Trees” is a novel, the two complement one another, she said.

“They support each other because both authors are interested in history, the way people evolve from different kinds of roots,” said Steinhagen.

“The people in ‘The Pioneers’ were not necessarily rich, but they were literate, and that’s the meat of that book. McCullough used the (Marietta College) library to pull information from letters, diaries, some of the people were very well educated, some not so much but they all wrote, that was the key to communicating with each other and to communicating with us, the people of the future,” she said.

The Lucketts, the primary characters in The Trees, had no such literacy and initially moved to the Ohio Valley to live in the vast hardwood forests, not to clear land, as the Marietta settlers did.

Other courses in the offing are:

• 1950’s – The Golden Age of Musicals in Film, with Ed Osborne and Dave Cress, both professors emeritus, Marietta College. The course will examine eight full-length musicals: Show Boat, Singing in the Rain, Annie Get Your Gun, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, High Society, Silk Stockings, and two others selected by the participants.The class will meet from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, starting next week, in Thomas Hall, Room 124, on the Marietta College campus. Registration is $30.

• Great Decisions About U.S. Foreign Policy, Mike Smith, professor emeritus, Glenville State, and other guest speakers. This course uses the 2020 Great Decisions materials to consider current foreign policy issues. Some topics to be discussed include: Global Responses to Climate in Change; The Red Sea – Trade Routes and Security; Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking; The U. S. and the Northern Triangle – Migration Issues; Chinese Outreach in Latin America; India, Pakistan, and Kashmir. This class will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, starting next week in Room 209 of Thomas Hall. Registration is $50 which includes a briefing book, but $30 if sharing the book with another enrollee.

• Latin American Culture and Civilization, Ted Goertzel, professor emeritus, Rutgers. An overview of Latin American culture, examining conflicts and crises, such as migration from Venezuela and Central America. The course complements the ILR courses Dr. Goertzel has offered previously on Mexico and Brazil, and he encourages participants who have traveled or lived in Latin America to enrich the class by sharing their experiences. This class will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, starting next week in Room 320 of Thomas Hall. Registration is $30

• Someone’s in the Kitchen with FLOTUS: The Lives, Times, and Favorite Recipes of America’s First Ladies, Melissa Bannister, West Virginia Wesleyan College; MALL, Marietta College, and Jayne Withrow, Glenville State College: MA, WVU. This course will focus on 16 First Ladies of The United States (FLOTUS), their lives and the times in which they lived. Which first lady taught her husband to read and write, why was Rutherford Hayes’s wife nicknamed “Lemonade Lucy,” and whose “million-dollar fudge” recipe is still popular decades after the first piece was taste-tested by her hero husband? As an added treat, participants will get to taste some of the first ladies’ favorite dishes. This class will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursdays, starting next week in Room 209 of Thomas Hall. Registration is $35.

• Exploring Dark Tourism, Kathryn N. McDaniel, Andrew U. Thomas Professor of History, Chair of Department of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Marietta College. This four-week course will travel to sites associated with calamity or death. If you have toured the Gettysburg battlefield, stopped at the 9/11 memorial, or visited the Holocaust Museum, you have participated in Dark Tourism. Some think of such journeys as pilgrimages for a secular age. The course will focus on several specific sites, explore why we seek out such places, and consider what we might gain from our experiences. This class will meet the first four weeks of the term from 3 to 5 p.m. Fridays, starting next week, in Room 124 of Thomas Hall. Registration is $20.

Although classes start Monday ILR organizer Judy Piersall said some space is still available. For more information, check the institute’s website at marietta.edu/ilr.

Michael Kelly can be reached at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

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