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Belfast Senior College

Zoom Online

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.

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
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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.

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