Rock Seminar
Real Rock and Roll seminar
Photo by Patty Quinn
Silk Road seminar
Silk Road seminar
Photo by Karen Roseland

Friday Afternoon and Saturday Seminars

These seminars take place on the CSUS campus on Friday afternoons. Most times are from 1 to 2:45 p.m., unless otherwise noted (look carefully for seminars that have different starting times). They run for the entire semester, from Feb. 7 through May 2. There are no seminars on March 28.

This semester, there will be one seminar on Saturday mornings, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. It will run from Feb. 8 to May 3. See details below

You must sign up with the leader for these seminars. There are two ways to register: You can call or email the leader right now or you can contact the leader at the Rendezvous on Jan. 31.

Please do not sign up for more than one seminar, unless you are on a waiting list. If you get into the class you want, please let leaders of your other wait-list classes know that you are no longer interested! Also, inform the leader if you are dropping a seminar (so those on the waiting list can be added).

Many of these classes require participation (ones marked with a (P) encourage participation). You may be asked to make a presentation on the topic or secure an outside speaker or help in some other way. Here are some technical tips for presentations. It will be noted in the writeups below if no participation is required.

Contact the leader now or at the Rendezvous for more information about a seminar.


Seminars have been grouped into the following categories to assist participants in making a choice:

Each seminar has a Primary Style immediately following its name, defined as follows:

Saturday Seminar

New This Semester!!!

The Bible in Art (C)
Mendocino 1003
10 a.m. to 12 noon, Feb. 8 through May 3

David Warren

This seminar shows how the Bible as literature has influenced the total Western World of art. We will review the biblical stories and look at works of art that these stories have inspired. My premise is that if you know these biblical stories, then you will be able to recognize them in art. During this class, we will see between 750 to 1000 slides. Please remember that this is NOT a religious course. I am approaching this material solely as literature, not a theological treatise. I am hoping you will enjoy it and come away with much new knowledge in the field of art. There will be a $15 fee for the Syllabus.


American Popular Music (by decade) (C)
Alpine 122 NOTE: Room Change!

Mike Harkins

Think of the vast changes in popular music since we were pre-teens. Then imagine how much this music has changed since the 1890s. This class will do a decade-by-decade survey of American popular music, complete with selections from the Grammy Hall of Fame. Traditional and modern Pop, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Country and Rock will all be included—something for everyone! No presentations required; just come and enjoy!

Films of Alfred Hitchcock (C & D)
Library 1533
12:30 to 2:30
Class size limited

Jon Courtway

He is known as the "Master of Suspense" and is one of the most popular and influential directors in film history. He was also an accomplished producer, screenwriter, art director and film editor. This class will explore his American career, "Hitchcockian" themes, and cutting-edge visual effects. Class size is limited and may fill up prior to Rendezvous.

Real Rock and Roll (C)
Amador 153

Bob Lang

"Gotta be rock 'n' roll music if you wanna dance with me!" Former radio disc jockey and local musician Bob Lang leads an exploration on the influences, roots, and development of traditional rock 'n' roll music, those years leading up to and including the heyday of the 1950s and early-'60s. Subjects include early rhythm and blues, rockabilly and doo wop; also sessions on the popular teen idols, dance crazes, one-hit wonders and more. What Elvis listened to as a Memphis teen that made him Elvis. Who the Beatles admired that influenced them to become the Fabs! Little Richard, the Shirelles, Chuck Berry, etc., they're all here, plus "Bob's Bonus Tracks." No presentations required.

The World of Choral Music (C)
Capistrano 223
12:30 to 2:45

Len Miller

The goal of this seminar is to enjoy performances of the established classics of the western tradition and to explore the diverse choral sounds of other cultures. The primary vehicle will be videos of performances and relevant documentaries, which will be supplemented by guest speakers who are involved with choral music.

Watercolor Painting (A)
Kadema 170 NOTE: Room Change!
Class size limited to 25

Barbara Peck

Discover your own creative ability through the beauty and excitement of transparent watercolor painting. This seminar is for beginning through advanced students. An ability to draw is helpful. Members of the seminar will do some instruction in the principles and elements of design. Members may choose their own projects, but must provide their own watercolor supplies. A material list will be provided. Critiques of completed painting will be made by seminar members if desired. Experienced guest artists will be invited to provide instruction and insight to watercolor painting.


Gardening, A to Z (P,D)
Eureka 111 NOTE: Room Change!
Class size is limited to 25

Karen Martin, Shelly Berlant, Sally Berlant

Interested in sharing your love of gardening with fellow Renaissance members? Come join us in this fun and engaging class as we share our gardening experiences and learn from local experts. Topics will be selected from bulbs and flowers, composting, container gardening, irrigation, pest management, pruning, shade and sun gardening, soils, succulents, tree selection, tools and resources, vegetables and vertical gardening. Format will include panel discussions, class participation, guest speakers and field trips. Gardeners of all levels and all interests are welcome.

Bonsai (P)
Eureka 105
Limited to 15 people
$20 lab fee due at registration

Clarence Smith

This seminar will pursue the basics of Bonsai, the art of miniature trees. The $20 lab fee will include a kit composed of one tree on which you will work, bonsai soil for that tree, and one bonsai pot. Each participant will work on the tree that is provided. You may also bring your own trees to work on, but you must supply your own potting materials. A few tools will be available to use only in class. We will cover a brief history of bonsai and techniques used in the development of bonsai trees. The seminar will consist of lectures and short films, work on your trees, and three or four field trips to area bonsai nurseries and/or private Bonsai gardens where you can see mature bonsai trees, and purchase items if you desire. The last seminar will be a visit to my bonsai garden.

Culture/Societies (Historical, Contemporary)

Tutte Le Cose Italiane (All Things Italian) (P)
Douglass 213 NOTE: Room Change!

Marty Keale

Let's explore Italy! Participants will have virtually free rein to explore those things about Italy that they have always wanted to know. Possibilities range from pre-Roman history to Sicilian cuisine to the Milan fashion scene. The coordinator is an experienced traveler with scholastic interests in history and linguistics. Class participation will be encouraged in subjects such as art, music, fashion and design, food and wine, the influence on Italian society of the Vatican and the Mafia and the lives and influence of famous Italians. We also anticipate several travel presentations.

Debunking the Myths about Mental Illness (P) THIS SEMINAR HAS BEEN CANCELLED!
Calaveras 145

Ann Arneill-Py

The stigma about mental illness is a very serious social problem, preventing persons with mental illnesses from seeking treatment and causing shame in families with members who have mental illness. This class will debunk myths about mental illness that cause stigma by presenting accurate information about mental illnesses affecting children, adults and older adults, including Alzheimer's disease, as well as information on the prevalence of mental illnesses and cultural differences among ethnic groups. It will also have presentations from community experts on treatment resources. Participants will be asked to give a brief presentation on a major mental illness. The coordinator will provide ample resources for preparing those presentations.

Ethical Reasoning: Justice (D)
Douglass 106
Class size limited to 30.

Eric McElwain

During each class session, we will watch a 25-minute lecture videotaped in the Harvard classroom of Prof. Michael Sandel, one of today's most popular political philosophers and best-selling author of What Money Can't Buy and Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? Prof. Sandel relates the big questions of political philosophy to some of the most vexing issues of our time: taxes, immigration, affirmative action, the roles of markets, national service, same-sex marriage, the place of religion in politics and other ethical questions we confront in our everyday lives. We will discuss each lecture and the related short weekly reading assignment. Class members are not required to make presentations.

Migration Linguistics (C)
Douglass 212 NOTE: Room change!

Paul Micheli, Lloyd Money

This is a continuation of the fall semester, where we learned how languages change as people migrated around the world. This semester we will focus on two of the world's largest language families: Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic. We will learn how English grew out of Anglo-Saxon and Latin, and Semitic grew out of Akkadian. The origin of the proto-Indo-European speakers is still very much in debate, but we will learn what the most reasonable theories say and how the languages tell us where they actually came from. Two books recommended (call), but no formal participation required. Fall term attendance is not a prerequisite.

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading (P)
(TED = Technology, Engineering, Design)
Mendocino 3013

Barbara Kletzman, Michele Stern

This is a continuation of last fall's enthusiastically received seminar. TED talks, originating at the annual TED conferences, have become an international phenomenon. Join us as we watch forty of the best talks, selected from more than 1,700 available on-line. The talks will be selected by the coordinators and participants with time for discussion after each talk.


Amendments of the U.S. Constitution (P)
Mendocino 4008

Bob Taylor, Joel Primes, Florence Young

Sex, guns, politics, money, individual rights, health, taxes and more. This seminar is your chance to learn what our Constitution amendments say and how they affect our society, our culture and our everyday lives. We'll examine, report and discuss individual amendments. What was the historical setting? What forces and political groups lobbied for and against them? How were they adopted? What were the consequences then and now? How has the Supreme Court interpreted them and why? The seminar will study bedrock freedoms and such hot button issues as women's suffrage, slavery and voting rights.

Great Decisions (P)
Mendocino 1032
Class size limited to 20

David Peters, Nell Farr

Great Decisions is a nationwide program designed to encourage debate of U.S. foreign policy issues. The Great Decisions Briefing Book ($20; available at Rendezvous or the first class session) provides background information about U.S. foreign policy objectives and relationships with other nations. Class begins at 1 p.m., with optional relevant videos shown most Fridays at 12:20 p.m. Topics will be: Turkey, U.S. and Israel, climate change and food shortages, political Islam, post-Arab spring, U.S. defense policy, U.S. energy independence, China's foreign policy, the global economy and U.S. trade policy.


Noteworthy Villains in History—Or Were They? (P)
Douglass 108

David McGuire, Nancy Samuelson

Some familiar historical figures are routinely regarded as "evil," perhaps because of a single act or incident—which might or might not have been true. Yet if we look at their lives in more detail, we often find that their accomplishments get overlooked because of their notoriety. We'll look at some of them to see if their commonly held image is justified. We have prepared a preliminary list that ranges from Emperor Nero and Genghis Khan to Benedict Arnold and Richard Nixon. This will be a participatory seminar and members may wish to add topics of their own to the list.

Religion and Society from the Civil War to the 2012 Election (C)
Eureka 103

Dick Pitcher

We will explore the connections between religion and society and how they influence life, such as culture, politics, and economics. We will discuss why different religious denominations take varying positions and how religion influences social justice on the one hand while supporting politics of greed and injustice for the poor and the marginalized on the other. Racism, prayer in government-sponsored assemblies, women's issues and much more will be included in this exciting course. The format will be lecture with questions and discussions at the end of each session.

Sacramento Valley—From 20 Million B.C. until Now! (C)
Mendocino 1005 NOTE: Room Change!

Richard Fuller

Once an inland sea, our valley filled with rich alluvial soil, lava extrusions, raging rivers, saber-tooth tigers and grizzly bears, hydrocarbon deposits, gold-bearing outwash, former Native Asians 9000 years ago, then a succession of Spanish, Russians, British, Mexicans, Kanakas, Americanos, Johannes Sutter, John Bidwell, Generalissimo Mariana Vallejo, Captain John C. Fremont, James Marshall, and MORE. Let's talk about Native Americans, missions, Americanos, gold, statehood, railroads, immigrants, Chinese, oil, agriculture and ALL our blessings.

Social and Economic Reform in 19th Century Great Britain (P)
Mendocino 1030
Class size limited to 30

Wayne Luney

Do you think of 19th-century Great Britain as a society with special privileges for a few and a rigid class structure? While this was true, there was also a growing middle class. There were people who participated in movements to make society more egalitarian. Early in the century, there was a successful anti-slavery movement. Later came pressure to expand the right to vote (for men) and to remove civil disabilities based on religion. There was the Chartist movement, which failed, and the Anti-Corn Law movement, which succeeded. The Fabian Society began late in the century.

Mendocino 1024

Jim Middleton

Civil War Buffs Unite! Join your fellow Civil War buffs for an exciting seminar exploring many of the great topics of the Civil War. After initial presentations by the seminar coordinator, each participant will give a short presentation on a topic of particular interest to him or her. Potential topics: photography, railroads, battles, newspapers, theaters of war, nursing, images of the North and South, politics, political parties, nativism, slavery, the Dred Scott case, causes of the war, maps and map making, the Panic of 1857, armaments, caricatures of Lincoln and other notable figures, the Sanitary Commission, Reconstruction, our current memories of the war and its causes, etc. This should be a fun class in which we'll be limited only by our collective imagination!

20th Century Revolutions (P)
Mariposa 1001

Ed Sanborn

This seminar will cover the great revolutions of the 20th Century: the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and 1989; the Fascist Revolutions of Italy, Spain and Portugal; and the Nazi Revolution in Germany. In Asia, we will cover the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution, and the Indian Revolution. Also, we will cover the liberation struggles in Africa, the Iranian Revolution and the Cuban Revolution. This will be an ambitious but, I hope, a fun agenda.

20th Century War Films and Their Relationship to Culture (C)
Mendocino 1022
12:30 to 2:45

John Ling

This series of 12 films will show the role of motion pictures' response to two terrible World Wars, from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. Made during both peacetime and wartime, they demonstrate the varied talents of different national film industries to cope with the task of entertaining and also informing their audience of the realities of modern war. Themes of class distinctions, prejudices, disillusionment, and life's inequities, perennially present in society, are examined in the context of war. The necessity for propaganda in movies made during wartime is contrasted with the nuanced and balanced films made during peacetime. Sentiments range from jingoism to pacificism in these motion pictures. A discussion will follow the showing of each film.


Greek Plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides (D)
Eureka 101
Class size limited to 15

Tom Slakey

These plays are relatively short, so we plan to read one each week. All can be read on line, and there are many translations available in libraries and bookstores. If one is buying, I recommend the Chicago Press translations (edited by Grene and Lattimore), published in several paperback volumes at about $12 each. Their first Aeschylus volume and their first Sophocles volume, each including three plays, will cover about half of our classes. For the other plays, I suggest using library copies or the Internet. The first assignment will be Agamemnon by Aeschylus. Participants are expected to have read and come prepared for discussion.

The Plays of Edward Albee (D)
Douglass 110

Ron Tochterman

Albee is " the pantheon with Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill, and Tennessee Williams...three Pulitzer Prizes...2005 Lifetime Achievement Tony Awards"—University of Michigan Press. We'll read aloud (optional) and discuss (encouraged) his greatest plays, including Zoo Story, Tiny Alice, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Objective: figure out what makes a great play great. Text: The Collected Plays of Edward Albee, Volume 1 (1958-1965) (Amazon, new from $22.50, used from $7.94). Recommended: Edward Albee: A Singular Journey by Mel Gussow.

Personal Development/Sports

Aging Well (P)
Mendocino 1003
Class size limited to 80

Marilyn Jack, Jan Polin

What does it take to age well, stay healthy, keep your sense of humor and not go broke? In this seminar we will explore topics including mental and physical health, finance, age-associated diseases, memory (what's normal at my age?), nutrition, elder abuse and more. Presentations by participants and guest speakers will be followed by lively discussions. Participant presentations may consists of one or more presenters

Dealing with Anger—A Healthy Approach (D)
Douglass 214

Renee Zito

Anger, a basic human emotion, is the most maligned and perverted of our emotions. This often is a result of childhood experiences in which we were taught that expression of anger is wrong. Unrecognized anger may lead to depression, obesity, heart problems, chronic distress, ulcers and poor interpersonal relationships, to name just a few. The goal of this seminar is to stop the pain and destruction that anger brings. You will learn psychological interventions that will help one recognize and work out anger—and learn how to convert it from a negative response to a creative and powerful source of energy that will improve your life.

Learn to Tell Stories (P)
Douglass 107
Class size limited to 30

Marian Kile, Vicki Crescitelli

You are invited to discover the storyteller within yourself. Through instructions, demonstrations and practices, participants will discover the power of storytelling and be able to share this art form with others in the classroom. Not to worry; you will be given the tools and a comfortable environment to develop your own storytelling style.

Qigong (P)
Calaveras 123

Joyce Reitz

Qigong (Chi-gong), according to Dr. Oz, "is a series of bodily movements and breathing that calm the spirit and the mind. It has been shown to strengthen the immune system, reduce stress and improve balance and posture." The movements of Radiant Heart Qigong will be taught. These movements encourage lengthening and expanding from within. They are usually completed standing up but can be modified for sitting. Joyce has been studying Qigong for 12 years and is certified to teach Radiant Heart Qigong.

Writing Personal Histories (P)
Mendocino 3007
Class size limited to 20

Tom Carroll, Fred Chapman

For those of you who intend to record your life story for your family, begin with this class. Participants bring typed pages of 600-700 words to share each week. While the class doesn't teach how to write (if you've ever written a letter describing an event, you're an accomplished tale teller), lots of support and ideas will be given to those who want it. And it's an opportunity to meet and know other Renaissance members in a small group.


Enduring Issues in Psychology (C)
Mendocino 2009
Class size limited to 30

Che O'Boyle

Why do humans think, feel, and behave as we do? What is personality? Do non-human animals think? Is mental illness a myth? What does a woman want? Is there really an unconscious mind? These provocative questions and others that have fascinated psychologists throughout western history will be discussed. Various approaches to these enduring issues, including the roles of philosophy and scientific research, will be considered. The coordinator is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at CSU, San Marcos. Material will be covered in lecture-class discussion format. Background reading is encouraged; no presentations will be required.

Earthquakes (P)
Douglass 206

Shirley Campion

Earthquakes...Shake, Rattle and Roll! Earthquakes are one way that Mother Earth lets us know that she is moving all the time. Seminar participants will take an active role in telling us about famous and not so famous earthquakes in history—including personal stories if they were present at one (or more!). We will learn how earthquakes affect us and our world. You don't have to be a scientist, just curious about how our earth is constantly changing.