Extraordinary Lives: Workshop on Biographies (Books and Films)

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Bi-weekly; Week 2; Monday; 10 am – 12 pm
Location: TBD

Biographies recount the stories of people’s lives, placing events, decisions and actions into context. Typically, their subjects are people who have faced significant obstacles in their lives.

The workshop will focus on biographical books and films that interpret the lives of noteworthy individuals. World leaders, celebrities, business gurus, spies, popes, and heroes will be considered.

Each two-hour session will feature two biographies – preferably one book and one film per session. Each participant is expected to choose either a book or film, and give a brief presentation about their selection at one of the workshop sessions. Participants are encouraged to read the books or films discussed in the workshop. A list of book and film biographies will be circulated and the workshop schedule will be determined in consultation between participants and facilitators. Discussion will typically focus on challenges individuals faced within the context of their times.

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Women’s Stories and Histories: 1920s-1930s Paris

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Bi-weekly; Week 1; Friday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD 

Join us as we dive into the many underrepresented, fascinating, and very interconnected lives of 1920-30s Parisian women writers, artists, booksellers, publishers, hosts, and partners, such as Alice B. Toklas, AnaÏs Nin, Caresse Crosby, Coco Channel, Colette, Djuna Barnes, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Jean Rhys, Josephine Baker, Mina Loy, Natalia Goncharova, Natalie Clifford Barney, Sonia Delaunay, Sylvia Beach, Tamara de Lempicka, and others. Each woman forged a crucial part of her identity in Paris and changed established ideas of how to live and create as women. Members are expected to present once and read the texts (e.g. a novel, a biography) assigned to some of the sessions (see attached list). Note: this is a smaller-group workshop with one in-depth presentation and extensive discussion per session.

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The Web of Natural Science

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Bi-weekly; Week 1; Thursday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD

Our natural world is a web of wonder, beauty and complexity. In this workshop we will take a broad look at natural phenomena through many scientific disciplines. These may include psychology, chemistry, physics, geology, bacteriology and more. We will see that there are many ways in which scientific studies overlap to inform our everyday existence. Each session will focus on an article of your choice, generally from the current year of the journal Scientific American. Other source material may include scientific magazines such as Discovery Magazine, Science News, Science, and The New Scientist.

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Lesser-Known Classical Composers

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Bi-weekly; Week 1; Wednesday; 10 am – 12 pm
Location: TBD

There are only a handful of classical music composers whose names are known by all. The idea behind this workshop is to have participants explore the music of some lesser know composers. There are literally hundreds of men and women whose names and great music are unfamiliar to most of us. But there are online examples of the work of many of these lesser knowns. Pick an era, scan the list of composers from that era, browse the Internet for musical examples of their work. Share your discovery with fellow workshop participants. It’s time to explore some lesser know composers’ music, and a workshop seems a good way to begin that exploration.

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Tales of Two Cities – Montreal & Toronto

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Bi-weekly; Week 1; Tuesday; 9:30 am – 12 pm
via Zoom

The ALLTO and MCLL (McGill Community for Lifelong Learning) organizations are pleased to announce an innovative joint workshop starting at 0930 am on alternate Tuesdays next fall. The workshop will be facilitated by Lorne Huston (MCLL) and Andris Rubenis (ALLTO). “Tales of Two Cities – Montreal & Toronto” will involve Zoom participants, in Montreal and Toronto, exploring the comparative histories and cultures of the two cities in the pre- and post-WW1 eras (Fall and Winter terms, respectively). Areas of attention will include the Indigenous Pre-contact Era, the founding of the cities, effects of various wars, bilingualism and multiculturalism, politics, and commercial and cultural evolution. The planned format will involve a presentation by each city, shared and followed in each case by general discussion. The facilitators have assured participants that they will be able to wear Canadiens and Maple Leafs jerseys if they wish.

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Reflections on Reading: Challenging Assumptions

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Bi-weekly; Week 1; Wednesday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD

If you’re a bibliophile, this is the workshop for you! This workshop is inspired by a 3-part series from CBC Ideas called ‘Reading With a Grain of Salt’.   We will explore questions about reading and books.  Why do we read? Does reading make you a better or more intelligent person?  Is there a valid difference between literary fiction and popular fiction? What is the impact of the Internet on reading? Why are book clubs so popular? Each participant will make a presentation and all participants will be expected to read 2-3 articles prior to each presentation. We are happy to provide assistance and topics and references will be available.  Come and share your own reading experiences and challenge some of our assumptions about reading.

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Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll – The Impact of the Swinging Sixties

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Bi-weekly; Week 2; Thursday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD

Part reminiscence and part historical gaze, this workshop has something for everyone!  Rarely has an era of history been as influential as the sixties.  Whether a walk down memory lane or a dig into the history of the era, this workshop will unearth surprising insights.  Was this the best of times or the worst?  What is the legacy of the swinging sixties and how did it shape our lives today whether in the culture, music, art, relationships, therapeutic drugs, psychotherapy, activist movements and more?  Join us to explore the influences that shaped the sixties and their wide-ranging impact.  Each member will pick one aspect of this era for their presentation from a list provided by the facilitators or one of their own choosing.

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Reading Colonialism and its Aftermath

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Bi-weekly; Week 2; Wednesday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD

We will read mostly fiction, possibly memoir, and perhaps include documentary film about colonialism and its lasting effects, from the points of view of the colonized, rather than of the colonizers. We will explore twelve colonial projects of Europeans and their descendants in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, East, South and West Africa, and the Americas.

Some of the writers we are considering are Chinua Achebe, Natasha Brown, TsiTsi Dangarembga, Amitav Ghosh, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Andrea Levy, Viet Thanh Nguyen, MG Vassanji, and Katherena Vermette.

Each participant will select one of the readings to present to the group. Everyone is expected to do all the reading and be prepared to participate in the group discussion.

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Artists’ Lives

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Bi-weekly; Week 2; Friday; 12:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: TBD

Join us as we continue our exploration of various artists’ lives, artwork, influences, challenges, themes, philosophies, and legacies. Using various texts (novels, biographies, films, podcasts, interviews), we’ll also analyze representations of these lives. Members are expected to read, watch, or listen to each session’s text/s (see attached list) and present once. Note: this is a smaller-group workshop with one in-depth presentation and extensive discussion per session.

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Events of the Fortnight

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Bi-weekly; Week 2; Friday; 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Location: TBD

This workshop is focused on discussions of current events. Members suggest topics of interest; they are expected to be aware of events reported in the various media and to come prepared to discuss them. Each session will begin with a listing of the proposed events of interest, followed by a short introduction of each event by the member who suggested it, and then by discussion.

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