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Workforce Development & Continuing Education

Literature and Writing Courses

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Lifelong Learning  Class Schedule How to Register

Lifelong Learning Literature and Writing Courses

Lifelong Learning courses are designed primarily for students age 50 and over. Not all listed courses are offered each semester. See schedule of Lifelong Learning classes to find current schedules, location, dates, and costs.

Literature: Food For Thought

A Survey of American Comedy from Satire to Slapstick, LLI-809 - 8 Hours

The role of humor in society through the lens of literature, politics, and entertainment will be discussed in this course. Students will review and evaluate major epochs of humor in America including the works of Mark Twain, James Thurber, The Three Stooges, and I Love Lucy. In addition, The Marx Brothers, Lenny Bruce, Laugh In, Mel Brooks, and Bill Cosby will be presented and reviewed. The course will conclude with a review of Seinfeld, The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, and Modern Family. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

American Essays of the Twentieth Century, II, LLI-808 - 20 Hours

Writer, Editor Joyce Carol Oates describes our text as ‘a history of America told in many voices.” The book is The Best American Essays of the Century edited by Oates and Robert Atwan. The voices are as varied as Loren Eisley, Tom Wolfe, Maya Angelou, Joan Didion, Stephen Jay Gould, and John Updike. In this class we will read and discuss what some of the best American writers of the 20th century have had to say about our history, our environment, our society, and their lives and experiences. Essays are, by nature, personal, engaging, and persuasive, and so we will explore what these writers say, as Oates puts it, about “where we’ve come from, and who we are, and where we are going.” This course is a continuation, but separate, session, of American Essays of the Twentieth Century. It is not necessary to have taken part one. We will read and discuss different selections from The Best American Essays of the Century, edited by Oates and Robert Atwan. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Exploring Fantasy Fiction, LLI-719 - Hours: 8

Join us for a celebration of the fantasy novel. Take a tour of some of the great classics and bestsellers in fantasy. Discover the secrets behind the construction of fantastic realms, magical creatures, enchanted objects, and mystical forces. See what happens when Hollywood adapts fantasy stories for the big screen. Best of all, go home with an awe-inspiring fantasy Recommended Reading list! Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Federico Garcia Lorca and Modern Spain,  LLI-704 – Hours: 9

Federico Garcia Lorca, whose tragic death in 1936 (at the outset of the Spanish Civil War) moved the world, produced a remarkable body of lyric and dramatic works. In this course, conducted in English, we will read three of his best-known tragedies: Yerma, Blood Wedding, and The House of Bernarda Alba, as well as a few of his better-known poems. Our readings will be enhanced by Lorca’s Andalusian background and culture—including gypsy flamenco music, bullfighting, and contemporary Spanish composers—together with related arts such as symbolism and the surrealism of Salvador Dali. We will explore the history surrounding Lorca and the fall of the Republic to the Nationalists who seized power under General Francisco Franco. Required text: Federico Garcia Lorca, Three Plays: Blood Wedding, Yerma, The House of Bernarda Alba ( or at bookstores). Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

From Page to Stage, LLI-831 - 10 Hour

Join us for this fascinating course and witness how a comedy by Peter Shaffer—Lettice and Lovage—gets transformed from pages of a play into a theatrical production by the Quotidian Theatre Company. After reading and analyzing the play, you will attend a play rehearsal and meet with the actors and director for an insightful discussion. At the end of this course, students will be invited to attend a premier of the Lettice and Lovage production at The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD. If you love literature and theater, this course is for you! Price of a theater ticket ($15-discounted rate) is not included in the price of the class. Students will have a choice of dates for play performances.

Introduction to World Mythology, LIT-013 - 37.5 Hours

In this introduction to world mythology across a range of periods and cultures, you will read, analyze, and respond critically to texts in class discussions, examinations, and essays. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Introduction to World Literature I, LIT-016 - 37.5 Hours

Learn drama, poetry, fiction, and other prose forms from the Ancient World, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance with an emphasis on appreciation of literature as an expression of the human spirit. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Literary Café, LLI-707 – Hours: 12

In a relaxed cafe setting, where lively discussion will predominate over a lecture format, participants will explore different literary genres: autobiography, a short story, poetry, and a novel. Anyone who enjoys reading will enjoy this course. We will begin with an overview of the literary genres of autobiography, which is often fictionalized and plays at the border of fact and fiction; the short story form, poetry, and the novel. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Poetry of Robert Frost, LLI-048 – Hours: 9

Join instructor Lesley Lee Francis, Robert Frost’s grand- daughter, in exploring the poetry of this four-time Pulitzer Prize winner from a variety of perspectives. This class is enriched by her extensive publications and personal experience in discussing the poet’s verse, including Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Mending Wall, and The Road Not Taken. Required text: Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose and Plays, The Library of America, 1995. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Rebellion and Rebirth in Film and Literature, LLI-807 - 18 Hours

This course will cover six various films and books in which rebellion leads to rebirth. We will view the films and discuss the books in terms of genre, era, moral or ethical decisions, adaptations, and universal themes such as love, deceit, conflict, spirituality, law, hope, justice, and reconciliation. Literature will include Jean Anouilh’s Becket; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; Gerry Conlon’s Proved Innocent (film is In the Name of the Father); F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; and essays, news accounts, and film The Great Debaters of a true story. Topics span Henry the Second’s England, New England’s Puritan period, Hitler’s Germany, the Irish/English rebellion and the British court system, The Roaring Twenties, and African Americans students of the U.S. South. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Shakespeare’s Star Power, LLI-709 – Hours: 12

Shakespeare’s current place in mass culture—popular film and DVDs—will be the subject of this course. We will also analyze the impact of such stars as Joseph Fiennes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, and Al Pacino, to name only a few, on our conceptions of Shakespeare, the dramatist, and his fictional characters. Where should these films be placed between the scholarly world and the world of popular culture? Can we begin to answer questions about Shakespeare’s enduring popularity beyond the stage? We will watch parts of Shakespeare in Love; Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet; and Al Pacino’s The Merchant of Venice. We will also read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. This course is designed for anybody with an interest in Shakespeare, film, and/or popular culture. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Some Great Novels of Our Lifetime, LLI-828 - 12 Hours

Please join us in reading a half dozen short novels, novelettes, and groups of short stories written during the adult lifetime of the class participants. These ‘readings” have proven to have “staying power” and are worth continuing to read, think, and talk about. Most have won major book awards. They can easily be read in a week. The course is, in essence, a book club more sophisticated than most. It aims to take advantage of both the reading experience and the life experiences of the class participants to consider both the literary qualities of the readings and the ways they resonate with readers. Students should read Old Filth by Jane Gardam for the first class. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

The Short Story, LIT-005 - 37.5 Hours

Study the short story in world literature with emphasis on the literary form. Discussions will concentrate on literary analysis of short stories from a variety of critical perspectives.
Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Varieties of Romantic Experience, LLI-717 – Hours: 24

This course is for anyone who loves to read and think about literature as a representation of human experience. We will consider a variety of kinds of literature and some non-fiction, ranging from Chaucer to the present day, that tell of the many ways in which people love, both happily and unhappily. Works considered will include plays of Shakespeare and Shaw and Albee, novels by Jane Austen and Thomas Mann, poetry by many hands, and memoirs of marriage. In each work we will focus on both the attitude toward the human experience the writer conveys and the literary strategies he or she uses to convey those ideas. Class members’ own expression of the way their experiences and views of human nature intersect with those of the authors will be an important part of the course. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.

Writing Memoirs, Writing Memories, LLI-543 – Hours: 12

Whether you wish to pass on the family heritage to your grandchildren, tell some of the funny stories or interesting events of your life, or if you want to explore your past in order to discover your own reality, writing is a wonderful way to begin. Writing for a group of other people who have stories to tell and who are also working to find the best way to tell them is a good way to begin and to keep going. This class will focus on individual writing, sharing, and encouragement. We will share ideas, experiences, and some of the frustrations and the fun of the writing process. Tuition waiver applies; seniors pay fee only.


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