Immigrant Experiences in Canada

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
One Term – Winter; Online via Zoom  **NEW**  

How do newcomers to Canada experience life here? Not all in the same way. Let’s read some recent first-person essays and fiction excerpts to see what some newcomers and second-generation immigrants say around key themes. We’ll express our thoughts and reactions from our own perspectives, whether born-in-Canada or a (long-ago?) immigrant. For background, we’ll add a short report on the statistics of immigrants from the various countries and, where possible, on the author’s life.

Texts, two to three per meeting, usually a total of about four pages, will be posted at the start of the course. Participants will be asked to join the conversation for each essay and to sign up to report on one author bio or immigration statistics. Key themes: Desire to belong, attitude toward the family’s original culture, language skills, child/parent attitudes, hope for the future in Canada.

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Sport and Its Influence on Society

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday;  2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  **NEW**  

Whether you are a huge fan or couldn’t care less, the sporting world affects you. In this workshop we will explore topics such as sport’s impact on socialization, national identity, economics, race, gender and social inclusion and exclusion.

We will look at many of the good and bad aspects of sport from the time of the ancient Greeks to the present day, asking ourselves questions like ‘Who says competition is bad?’, ‘Is sport a mirror of society?’, ‘Are nations that invest in sport more successful?’, and ‘Has sport replaced religion as the opiate of the masses?’

Workshop members are expected to give a 20 minute presentation on their topic and to participate in the discussions. There is no assigned reading list and an extensive workshop notes will be provided.

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The Blues

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  **NEW**  

Blues is a relatively new genre of music, but with long and spread out roots. It coalesced in the rural south at the turn of the 20th century and expanded with the advent of recording just after World War I. It broadened from a strictly African-American audience to impact popular and jazz music. It has been amalgamated into R&B, Rock & Roll and Soul, until becoming a fringe genre in its original form, with an almost completely different audience and performer makeup. This workshop will look at Blues throughout its 100-year history from cultural and musical perspectives, discussing its stars, hits, incarnations and current state. We invite all, from enthusiasts to neophytes, to participate in a workshop meant to appeal to, engage and entertain everyone. Participants will be expected to prepare and deliver a 15-20 minute presentation on the topic of their choice, that will normally include musical excerpts. Technical help will be available to those who may need assistance with sound or visual content in their presentation.

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20th Century Influencers

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  **NEW**  

Before the age of the internet, the social media influencers of our time were TV, film and books. They wormed their way into our society and our lives. Everyone knows the dashing James Bond and remembers the impact of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now and Star Wars. There were ground-breaking and trendy TV shows like MASH, All in the Family, The Simpsons and Cheers. What about some of the influential books of the period – To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tale, Silent Spring or the Female Eunuch? And who hasn’t been personally influenced in a vacation choice by something seen in a movie or TV show or read in a book? Each person will present an approximately 20 minute presentation where they will discuss the history and details about the “influencer“ and its influence on the world/society in general or its influence on them personally.

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The New Yorker Readers

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Thursday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  

The New Yorker Readers workshop provides provocative and thoughtful engagement with The New Yorker magazine. At each meeting, we discuss three to five items from among recent articles, commentary, reviews, criticism, short stories, poems, cartoon contests and magazine cover. Readers choose items from recent issues and online material and let the facilitator know their willingness to present. The facilitator prepares the agenda of what will be presented which is distributed by email in advance of the workshop. Participants are expected to have read the chosen items in advance. The presenter leads off the discussion with a 5-to-7-minute presentation and poses questions. After the presentation, the floor is open for comments and opinions. The New Yorker magazine is available by subscription (print and online), wherever magazines are sold, and online through the Toronto Public Library, via PressReader.

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Short Stories: The Long and the SHORT of It

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Monday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; Online via Zoom 

“A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage”. Short stories are one of the oldest types of literature and are a growing and important aspect of contemporary literature. We will learn about significant and influential contemporary short story writers, read and discuss short stories, compare them to one another, discuss how they are written, and how they reflect today’s society.

Each participant will present a short story from a selected book of short stories (“The Best Short Stories, The O.Henry Prize Winners, 2023” and Canadian short stories, to be determined). Everyone is expected to read the story being presented so we can engage in a lively and thoughtful discussion.

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Exploring the World of Podcasts

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person

Podcasts are a relatively new use of technology to share information, expand our understanding of the world as well as to entertain us while we go about our active lives. There is a topic for every interest. This workshop aims to explore the world of podcasts by examining those that tackle a variety of topics (example: The Daily by New York Times journalists) to ones that delve deeply into specific subjects (Science Friday) to ones that tell a story (The Memory Palace). We will examine how to choose podcasts that are both reliable and enjoyable. Workshop participants will select a topic, and explore up to three podcasts on that topic. Each presenter will recommend that fellow participants listen to the podcast chosen for the presentation prior to the workshop to enable an informed discussion led by the presenter. Presentation topics may include the biographical sketch of the podcast host(s) and guests, format and style, and quality of the information.

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Extraordinary Lives: Workshop on Biographies

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person

Biographies recount the stories of people’s lives, placing events, decisions and actions into context. Typically their subject matter concerns people who have faced significant obstacles in their lives or who have made a profound impact upon society.

This workshop focuses on biographical books and films that interpret the lives of noteworthy individuals. Each 2-hour session will feature 2 biographies, one book and one film.

A list of suggested easily-accessed biographical books/films will be circulated to registrants in June and the schedule will be developed in consultation between participants and facilitators. Each participant chooses one biography (book or film) on which to develop a brief maximum 20-minute presentation. Participants are encouraged to read the books or watch the films ahead of each session. A biography of personal interest can also be suggested for presentation provided there are easily-accessed resources available for other workshop members for prior preparation.

Discussion will typically focus on challenges individuals faced within the context of their time.

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China in the Evolving World Order

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; Online via Zoom 

For the past several years this workshop has studied the rise of China, the US response, and their ensuing conflicts that affect Canada and the global order. The workshop will consider a range of current events, issues and policy options as they emerge and evolve in a world fraught with uncertainty. Subject to the facilitator’s discretion, it is expected that workshop members will do a presentation on a topic of interest.

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Memoir Writing and Reading

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Monday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person 

Memoir, unlike autobiography, is the art of reminiscing about particular events, people and/or time periods in our lives and is becoming increasingly popular. As in previous years, participants will present extracts from their own writing. Ideas/prompts are offered to stimulate writing in class and provide a source for longer pieces. Time will be given to share these explorations in a supportive and inviting atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to provide constructive feedback to sharers (who request it), as learning from others (and from published memoirs) is a significant component of this workshop.

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