2022 Spring Encore

Learning in Retirement’s Encore program is a short form program running 30 to 45 minutes of some of the best presentations from the previous semester’s seminars.  These presentations are both Open to the Public and free of charge, but do require Registration in order to get the Zoom link prior to the presentation.


March 18, 2022

Harry Houdini – More than an Escape Artist
Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Mitchell Darer
Seminar: Does it Play in Peoria (Vaudeville)

This was part of a program about the Era of Vaudeville, but it turns out that Houdini was also an inventor, promoter, author, actor, director, producer, aviator, anti-spiritualist, and much more!  Plus, there is a special connection between Houdini and Holyoke.

Music and Dance on the Lewis and Clark Expedition 
Time: 11:00-11:50

Presenter: Sara Crawley
Seminar: Lewis and Clark Expedition

Traveling across an unknown land was hard work, but the members of the expedition found ways to celebrate and ease the burdens with music and dance. We know only limited details from the diaries of the explorers. This presentation looks at speculation about what they might have sung and how they might have danced.

March 25, 2022

Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Seren Derin
Seminar: Great Plants in History

This presentation will first focus on the origins of tulip plants.  The second part will look into tulip-mania in Netherlands and the present day tulip-futures market.

Weaving and Spinning: Myths, Fairytales, and Folklore
Time: 11:00-11:50

Presenter: Martha Cohen
Seminar: Textiles

This presentation explores the prevalence and value of weaving and spinning in many ancient cultures throughout the world as illustrated in selected myths, fairy and folk tales. Many tales will be shared, making this a good choice for those folks who enjoy listening to stories.

April 15, 2022

The dark sides of John Lennon and the man who killed him
Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Jane Kristal
Seminar: The Beatles

Although John Lennon led an enormously successful professional life, few knew about his troubled and in many ways ugly personal life.  As we know, he became the object of the murderous feelings of a vulnerable but crazed young man.

May 6, 2022

Signs: A Case study in pre-fatherhood mis-perception
Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Neil Novik
Seminar: Writing to Remember – (Purple)

Perception and understanding of the world around us is not simply a matter of light hitting our eyes, or sound hitting our ears, then being played back verbatim by our brains. Cognition is greatly affected by emotions and circumstance, as was the case for this first-time expectant father.

Black voices and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments
Time: 11:00-11:50

Presenter: Bonnie Strickland
Seminar: Reconstruction and the Constitution

The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments marked an epic change in our constitution.  With their ratification, slavery was abolished and Black men were given the vote.   This presentation will note those Black individuals,  especially Frederick Douglas, and groups who advocated and supported the amendments.

May 13, 2022

From Firth to Forth to Field of Flax
Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Sheila Klem
Seminar: Great Plants in History

One of the oldest cultivated crops, flax-based linen was a major textile in Ancient Egypt, used in shrouds for mummies.  Fast forward to 1686, when an Act of Parliament stated that all Scots were to be buried in Scottish grown flax made into linen shrouds.  The linen industry in the British Isles flourished, and flax has adapted to modern uses both in food and fashion.

Reconstruction and the Constitution
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Elisa Campbell
Seminar: Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate but Equal

I look at the case before the Supreme Court in 1896 that made “separate but equal” the law of the land until the middle of the 20th century. The presentation includes the context both of this case and the previous Supreme Court decisions regarding the Reconstruction amendments to the Constitution. I emphasize Justice John Harlan’s vigorous dissent from the decision, which is now honored for its principles and clarity.

May 20, 2022

Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Jeanne Kaiser
Seminar: Death in Hollywood

This presentation was part of the Death in Hollywood seminar in which we viewed movies that addressed death from the perspective of the person who was already dying or even already dead.  DOA is a 1939 movie with a tantalizing premise: the hero is deliberately infected with a poison that will kill him within a day or two and he decides to use that time to investigate his own murder.  The discussion will cover film noir generally and their use in this movie particularly.  n.b. The movie can be rented at a low price through Amazon Prime.

Fabrics on the Silk Road
Time: 11:00-11:50

Presenter: Alan Armstrong
Seminar: Textiles

From the time of Alexander, the Silk Road has been a vision, an internet, a skein, a web, a nervous system, a pulsing circulation of fabrics and related ideas, images and things flowing continually forward and back to the North, to the South, East to West, West to East.

Past Sessions

February 25, 2022

Aliens: In Sci-Fi Movies
Time: 10:00 – 10:50

Presenter: Jim Lee
Seminar:  Alien Life

This presentation will look at how aliens have been depicted on film from the 1950s to the present.  It will look back to the War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells as a starting point.

Karnak, Luxor, and other temples of ancient Egypt
Time: 11:00 – 11:50

Presenter: Gordon Wyse
Seminar:  Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian temples tended to follow a standard architectural design, becoming larger and more elaborate in the New Kingdom. Karnak and Luxor represent the high point of these temples. I will discuss these and a few other examples of temples that have interesting stories.

March 4, 2022

Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Laura Frossard
Seminar: Elements

Helium, the second most common element in the universe, has many unique properties.  It was considered nearly valueless until the end of the 20th century when helium became recognized a crucial for use in nanotechnology, supercomputing, and medical imaging.   The solution to the Earth’s energy needs may lie in fusion (how the sun creates energy) and the most efficient fusion reactors require helium.

Mystic River
Time: 11:00-11:50

Presenter: Chuck Aulino
Seminar: Death in Hollywood

The presentation is analysis and commentary of the movie Mystic River.  Using short clips from the movie, we will identify key aspects of the story and analyze the motivations and actions of the characters.

March 11, 2022

Death of the Beatles
Time: 10:00-10:50

Presenter: Robert Cohen
Seminar: The Beatles

The Beatles were the greatest pop music group ever.  Their breakup was tragic, and many events and relationships conspired to bring an end to the Fab Four.  I will discuss those and more, while including several musical interludes and lots of PowerPoint slides.

Mom, Pop, and Ellie – why it took two German Moms to raise an only child
Time: 11:00-11:50

Presenter: Jane Holloway
Seminar: Writing to Remember – (Blue)

A 78-year-old looks back on her childhood growing up with three parents:  a mother, a father, and a live-in aunt who was a generation older than both of them.  Although they were sisters, Mom and Ellie were very different people and had a complicated relationship.  Come join a photo-journey to discover the connections between the 1915 World’s Fair, Dr. Spock, a Madonna collection, and the influence of an aunt on this only child.