M5S 1W4

Academy members please enter TARTU through the Event Space entry around the corner at
#3 Madison Avenue

Workshops on a range of topics in the arts, sciences, and current affairs are generally offered every two weeks. The workshops are led by member-facilitators, and topics are researched and presented by the members of the class.

Workshops listing:

Great Gardens of the World – New for 2020 / 2021

Biweekly, Thursday 2-4, Week 1
workshop full   

“Paint when you plant!” exclaimed Alexander Pope. Do you agree? What makes a garden great? A beautiful garden can make even an ugly building look better. We will explore the genius of “Capability” Brown, of André le Nôtre; storied gardens like Giverny, Villandry, Sissinghurst, Stourhead, Majorelle, and the Imperial Gardens of Kyoto; modern gardens like Toronto’s Music Garden and the royal estate at Highgrove. What about mazes or the Chahar Bagh?  A list of possible subjects and a basic bibliography will be provided, but participants should feel free to choose their own favourite. All members are required to research and make a 20-minute illustrated presentation leading to a group discussion.

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Jazz Appreciation

Biweekly, Thursday  2-4, Week 2
space available

Jazz music is considered to be America’s greatest original art form and is well known for its creativity and innovation. Since its emergence at the beginning of the 20th century, its evolution has been closely woven into the tremendous changes and upheaval in American society.

Our Jazz Appreciation workshop features examples and discussions of various different eras and personalities and how the evolution of jazz has reflected and contributed to those changes.

Each participant is requested to select a musician, personality, or genre and prepare a presentation of approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Examples of recorded music should be provided to share with the group and time allowed for group discussion to follow.

This is an enthusiastic, highly interactive and fun class in which all are welcome from curious beginners to those who have enjoyed all aspects of jazz for many years. Wherever possible, we invite a guest musician to explain and illustrate the role of their own instrument in jazz.

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Biweekly, Monday  10-12, Week 2 – Fall term only

This workshop is for music lovers who want to learn about the fusion of jazz and classical music which developed in the 20th century. We will be examining the origins of jazz, its impact on European composers from Debussy and Ravel onwards, and its subsequent use by North American composers like Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein and John Adams, to name but a few of a host of serious musicians attracted to the vitality of the genre.

The workshop will also offer opportunities to see what artists primarily identified as jazz musicians (e.g. Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck et al.) created by using classical forms like opera and symphonies. The only prerequisite for the course is a love of music. Musical terms will be explained by the facilitator. CDs, tapes, DVDs and the internet provide a vast array of material for a 20-minute presentation.  The facilitator will assist with technical questions about music theory. A selection of possible topics will be provided. An excellent introduction to the topic can be found in Alex Ross’s book, The Rest is Silence.

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Massey, Morrison, and Munsch: Exploring Gender Equity Through Fiction – New for 2020 / 2021

Biweekly, Friday  12-2, Week 1
space available

Partly inspired by Sally Armstrong’s 2019 Massey lectures: Power Shift: The Longest Revolution and partly by the Academy’s 2019 Fall Forum debate, this workshop provides an opportunity to discuss fiction through the lens of gender equity. We’ll explore how the female literary voice has evolved, becoming increasingly salient and diversified. Selected books include adult and child/youth classic and contemporary fiction, male and female authors, and light to heavier reads that range from charming to powerfully moving. Authors include Toni Morrison, Robert Munsch, Michael Cunningham, Deborah Ellis, and Katherina Vermette. Members are expected to read each session’s book and present once, choosing to focus on either the author, Massey lecture themes, issues raised in the novel, and/or a literary analysis of the book. They have the option to present the book independently or in collaboration with others.

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Memoir Reading and Writing

Biweekly, Monday  10-12, Week 1
workshop full 

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 or that of a published memoir. 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 safe and inviting atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to provide constructive feedback to sharers (who request it), as learning from others is a significant component of this workshop.

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Modern Middle East

Biweekly, Wednesday  12-2, Week 2
workshop full

Since WW I, civil society in the Middle East has been struggling to find prosperity, equity, and stability in a post-colonial world of nation-states that include Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Yemen, Egypt, and Turkey.   We will explore the powerful ethnic, religious, and cultural loyalties that have emerged over millennia, and that continue to influence socio-political activities across the region.  Arab and Kurdish nationalism, Islamist movements, the role of women, Arab-Israeli tension, and the Arab Spring would be obvious topics.  In addition, there will be related global issues, including shifting alliances, the right to self-determination, refugee settlement, oil, terrorism, and capitalist-socialist polarization.

Workshop participants are expected to make a 20-minute presentation on a topic chosen by them, in consultation with the facilitators.

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Movers and Shakers of the Twentieth Century – New for 2020 / 2021

Biweekly, Monday  12-2, Week 2
Workshop Full

The twentieth century spawned many remarkable men and women, from all walks of life, who greatly influenced the world around them, for better or for worse.  In this workshop we will examine their lives and legacies. There are outstanding examples to choose from in the fields of science and medicine; the arts and entertainment; business and finance; politics and law; and, increasingly, social consciousness.  An initial list of possible candidates for discussion will be provided but participants are encouraged to suggest others. Everyone will be required to research and make a 20-minute presentation, illustrated if possible, to be followed by group discussion.

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Music Appreciation: Nationally Inspired Music

Biweekly, Wednesday  2-4, Week 1

QWhat do Chopin, Dvorak, Smetana, Sibelius and Verdi have in common?

A. They all wrote music motivated by melodies or rhythms associated with the people or history of specific countries. Music historians identify this practice, common between the 1800s and mid-1900s, as ‘musical nationalism’. Not all this music related to composers’ own backgrounds – often it was inspired by characteristics of other countries and peoples.

Discover the stories behind The MoldauFinlandia1812 Overture, Scottish Fantasy, Capriccio Italien and other musically ‘nationalistic’ compositions in this workshop of stirring melodies.

Presenters will discuss the background, special ‘nationalistic’ characteristics, and significance of the piece of music they have selected, using CDs, videos or other sources to illustrate these traits.

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New Yorker Readers

Biweekly, Thursday  10-12, Week 1
workshop full

Join the Readers for a lively, provocative, fun, thoughtful, and always timely discussion of items from The New Yorker magazine.  At each meeting we discuss 3-4 articles, reviews, stories, poems, cartoons and covers – or anything else that may be found in the magazine. Readers choose the items to be discussed from previous issues (preferably the last 2 or 3), email the details (title, author, issue, page) of the items to the facilitator who relays them
to the rest of the class. All are encouraged to read the chosen articles so they can be prepared to discuss them in a thoughtful manner at the next meeting. The person who chose the article leads off the discussion with a five to six-minute presentation – explaining why the article was of interest and posing any questions that were brought to mind.

A very brief summary of the topic is permissible so long as plenty of time is left for discussion. Presenters should assume workshop participants have read the selected articles and there is no need to reiterate their content.

The New Yorker magazine is available by subscription (both print and online) and at newsstands.

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Non-Fiction: New and Noteworthy

Biweekly, Friday  10-12, Week 2    space available
Room TBD

This lively workshop examines non-fiction books written in the last few years which draw attention to issues we want to talk about. Some of the books likely to be read, presented and discussed are: Say Nothing: A True story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe; A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism by Adam Gopnik; and Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane. In order to participate in the often-spirited discussion, everyone is expected to read the selected books and make one twenty-minute presentation structured to provoke discussion.

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