10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Courses

  • AFRICA, BRIGHT AFRICA Through History, Culture, Current Events and Literature

    This course is based on the assumption that while you may know a little about affairs African, you want to know more. The course will be based on what you individually want to know and will expand from there. Knowledge of the geography is important, and a general outline of the multi-faceted history of the continent will be presented. As there are many histories connected to the continent, there are many cultures. Current events and literature inform both.

    Please make a list of things you’d like to know about Africa, and read the first 15 chapters of So Long a Letter (The chapters and the novel are short). Please obtain the following slim books: African History, A Very Short Introduction by John Parker and Richard Rathbone; African Politics, A Very Short Introduction by Ian Taylor: and So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba. New and used versions can be found on the website: Bookfinder.com

    Teacher: Brooks Goddard lived and taught in East Africa for three years, has repeatedly travelled to different parts of the continent over the past 25 years, and has read its history and literature over decades. He earned his B.A. at Williams College and his MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. He retired as English department head at Wellesley High School where he taught with his wife for 35 years.


    (Sessions 1-5) The first two lectures progress beyond last semester’s theme of “Great Trials” by discovering how Hollywood depictions of courtroom dramas help us better understand the trial process. Each movie scene will be accompanied by an insider’s view of the trial tactics and strategies employed. Then there will two lectures on Lincoln and Leadership. We conclude with a talk on Lincoln’s recently discovered strong ties to Massachusetts.

    • September 13 – 20:

      Hollywood and the Courtroom: The Anatomy of a Trial, Parts I and II

      We explore the power of storytelling and the impact of film to embody and inhabit the law and its relationship to ideas about injustice, liberty, citizenry, race, justice, crime, punishment and social order. This is accomplished by watching courtroom scenes from famous movies to discover why they are so powerful and what they teach us about the trial process.

    • September 27 and October 4:

      Lincoln on Leadership: Parts I and II

      In today’s sharply polarized America, we can take comfort in looking at Abraham Lincoln, a man who left an enduring legacy of leadership. Indeed, the test of a true leader can be found in a man who continues to inspire a country long after his own voice has faded to the echoes of time. We examine how, as a politician, Lincoln mastered the art of communication and compromise; and as a leader, envisioned a goal and attained it by tempering responsibility and determination with compassion and hope. At moments of great challenge, Lincoln was able to summon his “better angels” to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.

    • October 18:

      Lincoln and Massachusetts

      When we think about Abraham Lincoln’s origins, we naturally turn to Illinois and Indiana where he and his immediate forebears lived. Surprisingly, our 16th president had strong and compelling family connections to Massachusetts, and this heritage provided a backdrop for what was to come. A key event in Lincoln’s life was an 1848 trip to Massachusetts, during which he so impressed powerful party leaders that he was invited to dine at Governor Levi Lincoln’s home. The story of that auspicious dinner party and its unintended results is worth retelling because it illustrates how one seminal event spurred Lincoln’s emotional and political growth.

    Teacher: The Honorable Dennis J. Curran, MA Superior Court Trial Justice (ret.), has presided over 450 civil and criminal trials. He currently teaches at Brown, and has taught at Tufts University and the Roger Williams School of Law. He is a fellow of the MA Historical Society and member of the national Board of Advisors of The Lincoln Forum.


    (Sessions 6-10) Starts October 25 WWLL is fortunate to have several highly distinguished local citizens and authors volunteer to share their time and expertise to give lectures on an eclectic array of very timely subjects, as listed below.

    • October 25:

      The Modern Electoral College: Function or Dysfunction by the Honorable Mitchell J. Sikora, Jr., former Associate Justice, MA Appeals Court (ret.)

      The presentation and discussion will address (1) the creation of the Electoral College by the text of the Constitution, (2) the modern operation of the College, (3) the practical political effect of “the winner takes all the states’ electoral votes” as maintained in 48 of the 50 states, and (4) proposals for reform of the present process.

      Mitchell Sikora is a native of Boston, attended its public schools and received his A.B., J.D., and LL.M. degrees from Boston area universities. He practiced for seven years as MA Assistant Attorney General specializing in constitutional and administrative law litigation in both the MA and Federal Courts, and then for 17 years as a private practitioner. He served for 10 years as a MA Superior Court judge and for eight years as a MA Appeals Court judge until the mandatory retirement age. He has served at various times as an adjunct instructor at Boston University Law School, Boston College Law School and New England School of Law.

    • November 1:

      Pushing the Envelope: A History of the U.S. Post Office Through Stamps by Henry Lukas

      Images of stamps from the first letters carried on the Boston Post Road, and events such as home delivery, the Pony Express, railroad mail, Civil War mail-in ballots, Rural Free Delivery, Parcel Post, air mail, ZIP codes, Forever stamps, and the impact of email on the PO’s current financial situation.

      Henry Lukas has a long background in education and community activities, and is currently educational director at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History at Regis College in Weston.

    • November 8:

      Some Advice for the New Mayor of Boston: Lessons Learned from 50 Years in Boston Politics by Lawrence S. DiCara, Esq.

      Boston just had a momentous mayoral election. Larry will provide some advice to the new mayor.

      Larry DiCara served for 10 years on the Boston City Council where he participated in many of the decisions that have made Boston the city it is today: Quincy Market, Copley Place and Charlestown Navy Yard, etc. He is a graduate of Boston Latin School, Harvard College, Suffolk Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

    • November 15:

      Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt by Daniel Barbarisi

      This new non-fiction book describes the 10-year hunt by thousands for a $1 million treasure chest of gold objects hidden in the Rocky Mountains by Forrest Fenn, an ex-jet fighter pilot turned millionaire Sante Fe-based art and antiques dealer. To chronicle the bizarre hunt, during which at least five searchers died, the author himself was immersed for four years as a hunter until the chest was found in 2020.

      Daniel Barbarisi spent 20 years as a daily journalist for The Boston Globe, Providence Journal and Wall Street Journal and is now senior editor of The Athletic. He is also the author of a book about fantasy sports betting, Dueling With Kings. He lives in the Boston suburbs.

    • November 22:

      Jim Bridger: Trailblazer of the American West by Jerry Enzler

      Even among iconic frontiersmen like Daniel Boone and Kit Carson, the legendary Jim Bridger stands out. A mountain man of the American West, Bridger (1804-1881) excelled in the age of exploration, the Rocky Mountain fur trade, had a key trading post on the Oregon Trail, guided map-makers and Smithsonian scientists, scouted for the Army during the Plains Indian Wars, contended with the contentious Morman migration onslaught, and extolled the wonders of Yellowstone to all. He lived a free life in a wild country and was an initial candidate for Mount Rushmore.

      Jerry Enzler is the creator and founding director of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, a 14-acre, Smithsonian-affiliated campus in Dubuque, Iowa, for which he was awarded two honorary doctorate degrees. He has produced several museum films and created museum scripts and exhibits that have been viewed by more than 4 million people.

    Course Organizers: Bruce Belason and the Honorable Dennis J. Curran (ret.)


    Poetry for the People XVI will emphasize the form, rhythm and rhyme so many of us associated with poetry as we first experienced it. The sounds, cadence and structure that distinguished poetry from prose will return from the past. Poems such as Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and Keats’ “To Autumn” should resonate with those who wish to revisit traditional verse. As with other Poetry for the People classes, this one will benefit from the contributions class members add to the discussions.

    Teacher: Chuck Kamar received his bachelor’s from Boston State and his master’s from Boston University. He taught for 34 years in the Newton Public Schools, the last 20 at Newton North High School. In 1998 he won the Paul E. Elicker Award for Excellence in Teaching.


    An hour of conversation for students of German and for German speakers. Basic knowledge of the German language is necessary. We read stories, newspaper/magazine articles and poems. Participants write short essays, which we correct in class and use as a basis to review or teach grammar points. Talents represented in the group make for a lively class.

    Teacher: Renate Olsen, B.A., M.A. New York State University at Albany, has taught English and German in high school; Fulbright scholarship in Germany.

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Courses


    This course celebrates the great bands and stars of pop, rock and jazz. We will listen to recordings, watch videos, and talk about a wide variety of musicians and bands. Social, historical and musical context will be provided. Examples of the artists included are Aretha Franklin, Michael McDonald, Elvis, James Brown, Fats Domino, the Temptations, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King. We will listen, watch and discuss the greats. You will expand your jazz and rock music appreciation and have fun doing it. Come and share your bright moments.

    Teacher: Tom Doran is a bassist/vocalist who plays soul, funk, blues, jazz and rock. In retirement he loves to play and make abstract art. He loves to talk about music, so if you do too, please join!


    Beginning with the “first encounters” between Europeans and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, Black Robe-1991, we'll take a look at some memorable portrayals of significant themes and personages in American history. Our list will include, among others, Mary Stillman’s War-1994, The New Land-1972, Twelve Years a Slave-2013, and Hester Street-1975. Links to the films will be provided. Join us for some outstanding cinema followed by open ended, stimulating discussion.

    Teacher: David Moore received his master’s degree in American Studies from Boston College in 1966. He taught in the history department at Newton North High School receiving the Charles Dana Meserve outstanding teacher award in 1993. His particular historical interests include classical Greece, American studies, fin de siècle Europe, and the Holocaust.


    Sessions 1-5 DNA is the most amazing chemical ever discovered. It is essential to life and responsible for who we are, both as individuals and as a species. We pass our DNA to our children and can see ourselves reflected back. Great strides have been made over the past decades towards understanding how DNA works and what possibilities it holds for the future. We will cover the basic science of DNA, its language, and how it works to preserve our health, build our bodies and pass our own personal traits to future generations. We’ll explore the science of sex and discuss how DNA controls development from conception to a fully functioning human.

    • Note: Because of the large amount of information to cover, this course will run an extra 15 minutes until 12:45.

    • When this course ends, you will be given the opportunity to register for any other 11:30 course for weeks #6-10 at no additional cost.

    Teacher: Frank Villa has taught physics and for many years ran his own company that designs laboratories. He has lectured on a range of scientific subjects for many years.


    We will discuss how narrators’ perspectives affect our appreciation of works including selected sonnets by Shakespeare. Our emphasis will be on Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and Macbeth by Shakespeare.

    Teacher: Helen F. Smith has taught at the Winsor School, Newton North and in Armenia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Georgia, Romania and Zambia. A Smith College graduate, she edits texts about writing and journalism. She is the executive director of the New England Scholastic Press Association.

  • WRITING YOUR STORY (Memoir, NOT autobiography)

    Maximum Enrollment: 20 Our memories are an essential part of who we are. This class is a community for those with stories to tell and reasons to write them down—to recapture treasured moments, leave a record for family and understand the past. Writing is done at home, then read aloud in class; comments focus on helping the writer. For those who can stay, the class extends to 1 p.m.

    Leader: This will be Sue Edgecomb’s third year teaching Writing Your Story. She is a retired Wellesley teacher who is now a writer. Her article, “The Wall,” was published in the Boston Globe magazine in November, 2018. Her memoir, Clearing in the West: Navigating the journey through loss, grief and healing, was just published and is available on Amazon.com.