“Directory of Special Interest Groups and Committees,” by Jack Curley

March 2nd, 2021

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I was pleasantly surprised to learn recently that since the onset of the pandemic BOLLI has added about 200 new members, a remarkable achievement during difficult times. The good news is dampered a bit when taking into account the fact that members of this group have had little or no opportunity to engage with fellow members in a classroom setting.* For this, and many other reasons, we are all looking forward to our return to 60 Turner Street. But perhaps there’s a small step we can take right now to get to know more about the people with whom we gather in virtual meeting spaces.

The BOLLI Banner, your community newsletter, will soon begin publishing a directory of Special Interest Groups and committees. Many active members will have the opportunity to participate in the creation of the directory, which we hope will be of considerable interest to the entire BOLLI community. Additional information on this new initiative will be coming soon, but to get things started the Banner team and I are pleased to offer our profiles as examples of what’s to come (to view, click “Read More”).

* Early joiners participated in two weeks of in-person learning prior to the March 2020 closing of 60 Turner Street.
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Welcome, New Members!

March 1st, 2021

This semester, we are pleased to add 57 new members to our BOLLI community!

Jim Allfrey, Holliston MA
Carol Aucoin, Medfield MA
William Beckett, Watertown, MA
Cynthia Bergeron, West Roxbury MA
Karen Bird, Waltham MA
Stanley Bornstein, Newton MA
Beth Brooks, Newtonville MA
Elaine Brooks, Needham MA
Jean Burke, Norfolk MA
Sarah Cliffe, Arlington MA
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BOLLI Lecture Series: “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” by Joyce Lazarus

February 18th, 2021

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents / Каста: истоки ...Every day we hear loud, urgent calls to address the problem of systemic racism in America. While we can all agree that racism continues to plague our nation, we may wonder what we can do to rid society of it.  In January, Bridget Kelleher, a doctoral student in American history at Brandeis, gave a two-part lecture series on award-winning author Isabel Wilkerson’s newest book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Random House, 2020). The lectures, followed by animated discussion in our large online BOLLI community, helped us to face up to our country’s troubled past and to confront the task of rebuilding a more just society.

Wilkerson’s beautifully written book is an indictment of America for its shameful legacy of slavery: Jim Crow laws, segregation, mistreatment of Blacks through police brutality, and political and economic policies that perpetuate racism. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming Soon: “‘The Dining Room’ – on ZOOM!'” by Mark Seliber

February 17th, 2021

       The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney | HubPages                

This story begins way back, in pre-Pandemic times – March 6, 2020 to be exact. That was the day the BOLLI theatrical group –CAST (Creative Acting, Storytelling and Theater)– held its first meeting of the spring semester, preparing to put on a production of A.R. Gurney’s play, “The Cocktail Hour,” to be performed during the last lunch hour of the term. Just three days later, Avi sent a note to all BOLLI members, announcing that, because of something known as “COVID-19,” all in-person gatherings were paused and BOLLI would resume online in two weeks, on Zoom, which was unknown to most of us.

But we all still really wanted to put on a show, as professionally as we could do it online. Our director, Richard Averbuch, proposed tackling another, more virtual-friendly, A.R. Gurney play, “The Dining Room,” which had appeared on Broadway in 1982. Read the rest of this entry »

“James Heazlewood-Dale’s Journey,” by Marilyn Brooks

February 4th, 2021

Australian musicians have become a part of the BOLLI scene. Many members will recall Georgia Luikens, who led several study groups during her time as a Brandeis PhD candidate. We have more recently been fortunate to have with us BOLLI lecturer and Study Group Leader James Heazlewood-Dale, who also hails from the Southern Hemisphere. Raised in Melbourne, he began his studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. James made the decision to pursue a career as a musician and to immigrate to America when, while on a tour of Australia, Maria Schneider, leader of the U.S.-based Maria Schneider Orchestra, invited him to join her ensemble to play the double bass. Read the rest of this entry »

“Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family,” by Naomi Schmidt (Banner Archives – October 2007)

January 18th, 2021

Most BOLLI members are aware that our own Sophie Freud is the granddaughter of the famous Viennese psychoanalyst. Until the recent publication of her memoir, however, we knew little of the details of her earlier life or of the interesting inter-relationships between members of the Freud family. The central character of Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family (published by Praeger) is neither Sophie nor her famous grandfather, but instead is his daughter-in-law Esti, Sophie’s mother.

The book is structured around passages from Esti’s autobiography and Sophie’s diary as a young girl, along with letters between individual family members, with the current Sophie looking back and commenting on their lives and their relationships. We learn how the two women left Vienna for Paris in 1938 when Sophie was 15 years old, and how a few years later escaped Paris on bicycles as the Nazis were about to enter the city. Read the rest of this entry »

“WHY BOSTON?” by Cecilia Dunoyer

January 5th, 2021

Cecilia Dunoyer - Maestro Musicians Academy of Lexington, MAEarlier this fall I had the pleasure and honor to lead a BOLLI study group for the first time, leading participants on a journey through musical Paris in the 1920s. I looked forward to Wednesday mornings, setting up my Zoom station, sitting at the piano flanked by two computer screens, anticipating the arrival of my new BOLLI friends on one screen and looking at YouTube videos on the other.

I moved to the Boston area just two years ago, and BOLLI has greatly contributed to creating a new life for me and to enabling me to feel a part of a community in this magnificent city. Read the rest of this entry »

Billy Flesch’s “Romeo and Juliet,” by Jack Curley

December 16th, 2020


Brandeis Professor of Literature Billy Flesch, BOLLI’s “go-to guy” for deep reads of literary classics, is a master at making connections, and he wasted no time in doing so during his December lectures on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Billy began the first of five sessions by noting the play’s timeliness during the current epidemic and pointing out that the Bubonic Plague that raged through 16th century London was a plot element in this and others of Shakespeare’s plays. That is perhaps not surprising given that an estimated twenty percent of Stratford’s residents died of the plague during the year of Shakespeare’s birth, with additional outbreaks taking place throughout his lifetime. Read the rest of this entry »

“Tuning in to Modern Music,” by Carole Grossman – (2007 profile of Naomi and Peter Schmidt)

December 8th, 2020

BOLLI encompasses scholarship, teamwork, and conviviality. All were very much in evidence in the fall 2006 and spring 2007 courses Who’s Afraid of 20th Century Music? led by an outstanding husband and wife team, Naomi and Peter Schmidt.

Naomi and Peter met as graduate students in Physics at Columbia University in 1963 and married in 1967. Peter became an assistant professor of physics at Brandeis in the 1970s and later moved to a career in private industry as a machine vision engineer. Naomi taught math in a community college, taught computer science at Brandeis in the 1970s and 1980s, and then worked at Brandeis and M.I.T in the field of academic computing, helping faculty use information technology in teaching.

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“Norumbega on My Mind,” by Joyce Lazarus

December 1st, 2020

Take a stroll along the west bank of the Charles River facing the Marriott Hotel in Newton and you will notice an old boat house, some canoers enjoying a lazy fall afternoon, one or two swans, and hundreds of Canadian geese in the sparkling waters of the Charles. Cross a bridge and continue your walk east of the hotel and you will reach a thirteen-acre conservation area along the river, with trails passing through meadows, marshland, small forest groves, and picnic spots. Joggers pass by and dogs with their masked owners enjoy the open space. You might be surprised to encounter here and there the ruins of stone pillars and moss-covered walls, ghostly remains of a once magical place: Norumbega Park. Read the rest of this entry »

“The Boston Ethos,” by Larry Schwirian  

November 17th, 2020

Have you ever wondered why so much of what has been written concerning the early history of the United States is about events that occurred in or around Boston? Why was Boston the epicenter of events that led to the American Revolution rather than New York or Philadelphia? Both were more populous than Boston and were also ports dependent on international trade. All three cities, as well as the rest of the British American Colonies, were impacted by the various acts passed by the British Parliament. Why didn’t New York or Philadelphia have revolutionary leaders like Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock? Why do we know so much more about the Boston Massacre than we do about a scuffle between patriots and Red Coats in New York in the same year? Why did the dumping of 46 tons of British tea into Boston harbor happen here and not New York or Philadelphia?   
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