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Belfast Senior College

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All Fall 2022 Courses

Bob Dylan and the Path to a Nobel Prize for Literature


with Peter Reilly

Calendar Sep 15, 2022 at 9:30 am

In 2016 Mr. Robert (Bob) Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but it did not happen without some controversy.Some cheered the selection as long overdue, while others felt that Dylan might be a good singer-songwriter, but without music, his words could not stand on their own, and thus were not poetry or literature. In the end, the Nobel Selection Committee felt the award was well deserved and the pageantry of a Nobel Prize went about as usual (well, sort of…).

This course will explore the music and poetry of Bob Dylan.   Did a gifted and talented pop star really deserve a Nobel Prize? What did he give us that so moved the Nobel establishment? We will look at Bob Dylan, the person, but more importantly, we will focus on his music and poetry.   In the 60s was he really the spokesperson for the generation that faced Viet Nam, Civil Rights Protests, and a Nuclear Arms Race? Many thought so, but one person that didn’t was Bob Dylan himself, which certainly makes things interesting if nothing else! We will only have time to concentrate on what is referred to as Dylan’s “signature songs” - those of the 60s and 70s. There will be lots of music,  not only from Dylan, but others who covered his songs. In the end, we will try to decide if Mr. Dylan is in the same league as  Sinclair Lewis,  Eugene O'Neill,  Pearl S. Buck,  William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, and other US winners in years past. If you’re a Dylanologist, please come and help shed some light on our subject; if you just love or admire Dylan, we need to know why; and if you just want to have fun, then help us enjoy the music!

Peter Reilly lives in Belfast and has been a member and instructor at Belfast Senior College for over 10 years.   After retiring from a career in banking he worked as an instructor with Outward Bound on Hurricane Island. He holds a BS and MBA from Monmouth University.

Note: This course will simultaneously be conducted in-person and online remotely via Zoom. Also, no class Oct 6th.

Toni Morrison and Mark Twain: Should these writers' books be banned? Can Huckleberry Finn and Beloved be taught without using "C.R.T?"


with Juliet Baker

Calendar Sep 15, 2022 at 9:30 am

The history of book banning is as old as human literacy. So too is the need among many readers to seek and consider universal truths through their reading. To better understand the many reasons for banning books and to explore a current practice of compelling teachers to discuss books in circumscribed ways, we shall reread and review two great American novels, Toni Morrison's Beloved and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Too often, the latter has been singularly viewed as little more than a fun children's book, one involving two mischievous boys and their adventures with an easily hoodwinked runaway slave. In the novel, Beloved, seen by some as pernicious and amoral, we meet another runaway slave, a woman too often misunderstood and shunned, accused of infanticide, one who lives a mystifying life among ghosts, spirits, and fear. These two characterizations are certainly too narrow; in fact, both are wrong.As we discuss Beloved and Huckleberry Finn, we will consider the history of literary censorship, paying particular attention to our own times. Can we really remove books from public libraries and from classrooms?  If so, how can we justify such removals? As for how we teach and discuss books, shouldn't we dig deeply? Shouldn't we be aware of the historical and philosophical foundations of what we read and teach?This is where we will dissect the various meanings and functions of Critical Race Theory (CRT), controversial because it challenges our twin creation myths of white supremacy and Manifest Destiny. Isn't that an author's prerogative? I don't think we can teach either of these novels without this version of CRT. As we explore these topics, let's see what you think.

Texts:For the course, I'll be relying on iBook/Kindle texts: "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Mark Twain. fully annotated and illustrated PENGUIN First Class fully annotated edition of original 1884 text; "Beloved", Toni Morrison. First Vintage International Edition, 1987, 2004. Ebook ISBN 9780307388629. The other texts are ones I have previously studied and while I will use them, I will refer to the Kindle editions. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching literature courses for 13 or 14 years at Senior College, everything from Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and The Iliad, to a year of Dickens, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and American Black Poetry. This particular course will be a reach for all of us!

Note: No class Oct 6th

Beginning Bridge


with Carol Gator

Calendar Sep 15, 2022 at 1 pm

This is a 6 week course to teach the basics of Bridge. It's designed to get people started in this classic card game covering evaluating the dealt hand, playing the game, and scoring.I have played bridge for many years and, believe that I can present the basics in an understandable fashion. My goal is to prepare attendees to participate in friendly bridge games, and to instill an appreciation and enthusiasm for the game.

Note: No class Oct 6th

Full Course

Playwriting! Take The First Step


with Marjorie Arnett

Calendar Sep 15, 2022 at 1 pm, runs for 6 weeks

This workshop is for those not only curious about how to write a short play, but who desire to give it a try. Students will move step by step into the fun of learning to write in a play format and to silence the critical voices within. Everyone will bring their own unique personal style and become part of a class that encourages one another as you share concepts, commiserate about challenges, and become inspired by laughter as you learn the basics. This is not an acting class. No theater experience or drama experience is necessary or required.

Note: No class Oct 6th

Walt Whitman: Time of war, Times of peace


with John McClenahen

Calendar Sep 15, 2022 at 1 pm

In the concluding lines of Specimen Days, an eclectic prose collection of notes and memoranda and descriptions of life and death, war and division, democracy and unity, American poet Walt Whitman writes, "Perhaps . . . the efforts of true poets, founders, religions, literature, all ages, have been and will ever be . . . to bring people back from their persistent strayings and sickly abstractions, to the countless average, divine, and original concrete." Drawing selectively from Specimen Days, Leaves of Grass, and Whitman's correspondence, this seminar course will consider Walt Whitman's Civil War ministrations to the wounded, sick and dying; his lifelong community with nature; his celebrations of body and soul; and his notions of democracy.


Walt Whitman, Specimen Days & Collect, Dover Edition

Walt Whitman, Selected Poems, Dover Thrift Editions

Excerpts from Whitman's correspondence will be distributed during the course.

A resident of Swanville, Maine, John S. McClenahen is a writer, photographer, and college teacher who has university degrees in English, government, history, and philosophy. A retired broadcast and print media professional, he is the author of five books of poetry and more than a dozen collections of photographs. During Easter Term 1986, he was a Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Note: This course will simultaneously be conducted in-person and online remotely via Zoom. Also, no class Oct 6th.

Magical Mystery Tour of the British Isles
Online Registration Unavailable

Magical Mystery Tour of the British Isles


with Nancy Perkins

This course will examine the history of the mystery in the British Isles and learn the elements of a classic mystery. We will then travel from the Shetland Islands to the great city of London learning of the great detectives that work to keep the island safe. On the final day of class you will be asked to report on a British mystery that you have read, delineating the elements of the mystery in your selection and why you liked (or disliked) the story.

Text: Your choice of a British mystery from a Sherlock Holmes story to a Jacqueline Winspear tale of Maisie Dobbs. It's your choice!

I have taught this and many other courses for the past 5 years at Belfast Senior College. I am teaching this course at 3 other Senior Colleges this year via Zoom and am very comfortable with this medium. My education was focused on British History and Literature but I never taught until coming to Senior College. I am an inveterate mystery lover always seeking a new favorite to read.

Note: This course will be taught online with remote connections via Zoom.

Have You Heard There’s Another Plan to Develop Sears Island? - BBL


with Susan White

Calendar Oct 13, 2022 at 11:45 am

A Brown Bag Lunch event!

Susan White and Rolf Olsen are President and Vice President respectively of the Friends of Sears Island. They will discuss the state’s proposal to use about 80 acres on the western shore to build enormous floating wind turbines that will be deployed in the Gulf of Maine. They recommend not building this site on Sears Island, and their talk will focus on the status of the effort and how people can voice their opinions to help influence the project.

A Rock Walk


with Fred Bowers

Calendar Oct 19, 2022 at 12:30 pm

You are invited to join retired soil scientist/geologist, Fred Bowers for an outdoor talk about rock formations and a walk along the shore of Belfastharbor presented on Wednesday, October 19 at low tide. We will gather at the Belfast Boat House at 12:30 pm to hear Bowers describe how the rock formations we see in Belfast were formed millions of years ago, and also see evidence that Belfast was under a layer of ice a mile thick, 50,000 years ago. Bowers will then lead a short beach walk to examine the glacial till, volcanic intrusions, glacial erratics, and the composition of ledge outcroppings along the shore. Fred Bowers holds a Ph.D. in Forest Soils and worked for 27 years as a Research Scientist for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He lives in Belfast and has taught classes at Belfast SeniorCollege relating to local rocks, soils, and landscapes.

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