Finished Projects in Bonsai Class
Photos by Clarence Smith

Friday Afternoon and Saturday Seminars

These seminars take place on the CSUS campus on Friday afternoons or on Saturdays. Most Friday 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. 5 through May 6. There are no seminars on March 25.

There are also two seminars on Saturdays, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They will run from Feb. 6 to May 7; one requires registration and one is a drop-in with no registration required. Jump to them.

You must sign up with the leader for all the Friday seminars and the morning Saturday seminar. 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. 29.

Please do not sign up for more than one Friday afternoon 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 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.

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

Friday Seminars


Active Retirement Investing (L)
Alpine 148

Bill Bailey, Marsha Holland

Active Retirement Investing: An in-depth look at financial topics for those who are retired or soon will be. Assess your portfolio and see if it is suitably allocated for your needs. Whether you are investing on your own or would simply like to check on how your adviser is doing with your portfolio, you'll find this class very enlightening and useful. Bill Bailey, class leader, has over 34 years in the financial arena; his latest book is Wealth Strategies: Investing for your Retirement. Contact: Co-Leader Marsha Holland.


American Leadership (D)
Mendocino 1020 (Note: Room Change!)

Harry Cohen

At the end of the Cold War, and not since the Roman Empire, America became the world's sole superpower. America experienced an enormous sense of relief that perhaps led to arrogance. Then came 9/11, showing that it could no longer define the rules of the game and leading us along courses of action that proved to be profoundly self-defeating. If American leadership remains necessary, it needs to return to being inspirational and not dictatorial, acting as a catalyst in world affairs and simultaneously helping the American public and institutions regain their confidence. We will discuss how America can accomplish this. Registration is required. Limited to 30.

Birte, Steve

Art Movies And Documentaries (D)
Library 3021

Steve Harley, Birte Harley

Topics include all aspects of art in a variety of mediums. Included are unconventional and lesser known artists, such as M.C. Escher and Isamu Noguchi, and some you may not know like a Man named Pearl. Your comments and knowledge are welcome in the discussion that will follow the films. Please note that we start the films at 1 PM.

Beethoven And The Age Of Enlightenment (L)
12:30 to 2:45, Capistrano 223

Bob Seyfried, Professor Leo Eylar (Do Not Contact)

Count Waldstein, one of Beethoven's most important patrons, wrote the following words as Beethoven settled in Vienna as a pupil of Joseph Haydn: "Through uninterrupted diligence you will receive Mozart's spirit through the hands of Haydn." Please join Bob Seyfried and Professor Leo Eylar of the CSUS Department of Music as they together explore the development of the High Classical Style of Mozart and Haydn to its apex in the epoch-changing monumental works of Beethoven. This seminar will feature both lectures and live performances. A field trip to the Beethoven Museum in San Jose will also be considered. A DONATION OF $20 WILL BE COLLECTED FROM BOTH PRESENTERS AND ATTENDEES.


Bonsai: The Art Of Miniature Trees (A/S)
Eureka 105

Clarence Smith

Each participant will be provided a tree (including other materials) to work on. A $30 lab fee must be paid when you register. You must provide materials for other trees you want to work on. The seminar will include lectures, work on trees and field trips. Limited to 15.


The Cathedral (L)
Tahoe 1025

Jon Courtway

To be inside a Gothic cathedral is to experience the visual essence of Christianity as: centers of ecclesiastical authority; marvels of architectural genius and innovation; places to instruct communities about Christian values; and sites of political, cultural, intellectual and economic importance. Cathedrals possess a spiritual, artistic and historical grandeur that deserves to be experienced and felt by everyone. This DVD course tours Saint-Denis, Notre Dame de Paris, Chartres, Amiens, Laon, and Reims, and follows the spread to Germany, Italy, England, Spain, Czech Republic, and the New World, including modern net-gothic buildings. Short class presentations and discussions after each 30-minute DVD presentation. Registration by email is encouraged.


China! The Qin And Terra Cotta Warriors (P)
Douglass 209 (Note: Room Change!)

Chris Budwine

This course will begin by the leader using historical stories to explain the background, intrigues and politics of the development of Qin, which produced the first emperor of China. These stories and events will illuminate this magnificent era and how it influenced the remaining dynasties in China. The first emperor's tomb contains well over 5,000 life-sized figures known as the Terra Cotta Warriors. Participants are encouraged to give presentations, which could be memories, photos, observations and experiences of their travels to China or the Terra Cotta Warriors.


Economics For The 99 Percent (P)
Alpine 212

Carl Pinkston

We will study and discuss the causes and consequences of the Economic Crises of 1929 and 2007. Topics include crisis, John Maynard Keynes, Bernie Sanders reforms, Thomas Piketty and economic inequality. Using video, presentations and dialogue.


Foreign Romantic Comedy Films (D)
12:30 to 2:45, Solano 2002 (Note: Room Change!)

Chip Zempel

Tired of romantic comedies that are hackneyed, mushy, and predictable? This is the class for you! Focusing on little-known indie and foreign RomComs, we'll begin our exploration of the genre with films that follow the standard boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl-back formula. Then we'll branch out into films that bend or even break the formula. We'll watch parody, thriller, parallel universe and time travel RomComs. There will be shorts, musicals, animation, ballroom dancing and a RomCom with scenes set in Sacramento. We’'l even watch a RomCom with zombies!


Great Decisions: Vital Issues In American Foreign Policy (P)
12:30 to 2:45, Mendocino 1032

David Peters, Steve Orkand

Great Decisions is a nationwide program designed to encourage debate of U.S. foreign policy issues. The Great Decisions Briefing Book ($22, available at Rendezvous and 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 at 12:20, beginning prior to the third class session. Topics will be: Middle East, The Rise of ISIS, The Future of Kurdistan, Migration, The Koreas, The United Nations, Climate Change, and Cuba and the U.S. The format will include discussion and required presentations by most participants. Limited to 25.


The Great Explorers Of History: Some You Know, Some You Don’t (L)
12:30 to 2:45, Riverside 1015 (Note: Room Change!)

Richard Fuller

Can you identify these characters in history? They left the Rift Valley 1.9 million years B.C.E. He invented a religion and walked to Mesopotamia. She tried to be the first woman to fly 40,000 km. He found passage, sailed the Pacific, got killed. In the 1400s, he rode camels through Africa and the Levant. In the 1400s, he built giant ships, then burned them. They were first to climb Everest: one died, one lived. He was a mercenary who abused natives and became famous. Desert born, he conquered Asia and Europe. There are many more fascinating explorers in history. If you want to participate, pick one and give a brief report to your fellow classmates. If YOU have a favorite Great Explorer, you may tell THAT story!!

Jo Ann

Happiness And Your Brain (D)
Brighton 104 (Note: Room Change!)

Jo Ann Yee

This class will require weekly, advance readings of articles from "happiness" experts. Assigned reading will be emailed or provided in advance of each class. Videos, including select TED talks, will be used to jump start discussions around questions such as these: What is happiness? Is it an emotion? A state of mind? Is it the same thing as pleasure? Purpose? Where do our emotions come from? What's going on in our brains when we're happy, sad, angry or …in love? We will learn from psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers. Be prepared to reflect about how their theories and ideas fit, or don't fit, in your life, actively listen and engage in what will be enlightening discussions!


Innovations In Architecture (L)
Alpine 144 (Note: Room Change!)

Peter Kosar

Through extensive videos and photos, we'll explore some innovative and exciting 20th and 21st century architecture, including materials and new design concepts. We'll look at the works of renowned architects like Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas and Norman Foster, and meet architects who build everything from temporary shelters to cathedrals using paper tubes, sand and bamboo. We'll explore innovative adaptive reuse of structures like the New York High Line and advances in energy and sustainable designs like solar-powered homes. No presentations required.


Intermediate Spanish: Reading And Speaking (P)
Alpine 227

Melody Flores

This seminar provides a casual environment to support and develop existing intermediate level Spanish reading and speaking skills. Participants will need a basic understanding of Spanish vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure. Each week the seminar will include two parts. During the first part, participants will share in reading aloud and translating from a textbook novel selected by the class. During the second part, participants will share individual writings on various topics to improve writing and speaking skills. There will most likely be two books purchased at $6 each. This is a participation class. Limited to 11.

Iran (P)
Amador 151 (Note: Room Change!)

E. C. "Vick" Vickland

Axis of evil or possible ally in dealing with ISIS? With the current world situation, it is important to know and understand our possible enemy or friend. There is much to know about Iran that is not reported in our media. This class is participatory. Its success depends on students' willingness to do a little research and report to the class. A very interesting class is guaranteed.

Beth Joan

The Mediterranean Sea: Early Trade Routes And Cultures (P)
Tahoe 1003 (Note: Room Change!)

Beth Mann, Joan Vondracek

The Silk Road was just one of many trade routes used to transport goods; the Mediterranean also played in important role in trade and exchange of cultures in ancient time. This class will delve into the ancient trading routes and societies of the Mediterranean—who and what they were, what goods were traded and with whom and how these cultures help us to understand the origins and development of modern society. Presentations by participants will be welcome and encouraged.


Memories And Memoir: Writing Personal Histories (P)
Calaveras 141 (Note: Room Change!)

Kimberly A. Edwards

Whether writing a life story for your children and grandchildren or trying your hand at commercial memoir, your stories beg to be told. This class will provide basic guidelines on writing about your life experiences. Following in the tradition of Renaissance's original Writing Personal Histories seminar (led by Fred Chapman), this class encourages participants to produce and read aloud up to 800 words weekly in a safe environment. Participants share distant or recent experiences. Discussion helps all to see what works and to provoke ideas for future stories. Writers at all levels and of all genres welcome. Registration is required. Limited to 15.


More Great American Trials (L)
Brighton 214

Joel S. Primes

Since the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, literally millions of civil and criminal trials have been conducted in American courts. This semester's seminar, which will focus on different cases from those covered last semester, is designed to make the law understandable to those of us who are not legal professionals. We will look at the most significant cases: the set of facts about the trials, the circumstances that led to the trials and the results. The discussions will help with our understanding of these important cases and their significance on the American judicial system, political controversy and historic or legal precedent. Participants are encouraged to research and make a presentation; however, this is not required. New and exciting: this semester, participants will have an opportunity to take part in a MOCK TRIAL. In addition to reading and discussing cases you will actually be able to go through the experience.

Naval And Military Movies (D)
12:30 to 2:45, Amador 314 (Note: Room Change!)

John Ling

This course will screen a varied selection of mostly British-made and two French-made films made about the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic War, World War One, the Russian Revolution, World War Two and several post-Second World War films, the last about the current Afghanistan war from a British perspective. They range from satire, effectively done war propaganda, anti-war, patriotic, and those without an obvious message, apart from entertainment. They were made from 1932 to 2014. Three of the films will be in color; the others are in black and white. Audience participation in film discussion will follow each screening. 1. An Ungentlemanly Act; 2. The One That Got Away; 3. A Prize of Arms; 4. Sea of Sand; 5. Yangtze Incident; 6. Waterloo; 7. Kajaki; 8. The Devil's Disciple; 9. Wooden Crosses; 10. La Marseillaise; 11. The 49th Parallel; 12. The Two-Headed Spy; 13. Knight Without Armour.


Real Rock 'n' Roll (L)
Mendocino 1005

Bob Lang

"Gotta be rock 'n' roll music if you wanna dance with me!" Explore the influences, roots and development of traditional rock 'n' roll music, those years leading up to and including the genre's prime during the 1950s and early '60s. Subjects include early rhythm and blues, rockabilly and doo wop. Other sessions may include the popular teen idols, dance crazes, one-hit wonders, the roots of soul music and others, plus a couple of new classes being developed for this semester. Little Richard, the Shirelles, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Dion and the Belmonts, the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, a kid from Memphis named Elvis, they're all here, plus Bob's Bonus Tracks. No presentations required.

The Rise Of Germ Theory (L)
Douglass 106

David McGuire, Jon Brosin

Man and microbes have co-existed since the beginning of time, but full realization of our interaction has been a relatively recent development. This course will trace the evolution of our understanding, from vague recognition of cause-and-effect through the development of so-called miracle drugs and then our awareness of the threat of so-called super germs. You need not have a background in biology or clinical studies, but just a general interest in the subject. Some voluntary reading will be helpful, and individual presentations are encouraged, but not required.

The Stories Of John Cheever (L)
Douglass 212 (Note: Room Change!)

Ron Tochterman, Rosemary Kelley

People wore hats, chain-smokers woke the world with their hacking, and Benny Goodman was on the radio. "Brilliant"—NY Review of Books. "Powerful and dazzling"—The New Republic. "Luminous"—Philip Roth. Read and discuss (How'd he do that?) these dazzling, accessible stories (including Goodbye, My Brother; The Swimmer; and The Enormous Radio). Learn about Cheever's complex life ("a man who has homosexual instincts and genuinely detests homosexuals"). Text: The Stories of John Cheever, Vintage International Edition (4-20-11), winner Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, 1979. Recommended: Cheever A Life, Blake Bailey.


Touring Northern California (P)
Riverside 1008 (Note: Room Change!)

Ken Mack

Let's get together and share our favorite destinations in and around Sacramento. There is so much to see in our own backyard. We have really big trees. There's a huge ocean and a very big lake just a few hours away. There are three National Parks, a National Seashore and a National Monument waiting for our attention. There are museums big and small scattered all over Northern California. We have art tours and walks throughout our region. I would like to share some of my favorite trips and hear about yours. Class participation greatly appreciated. Limited to 30.

United States Civil War (L)
12:30 to 2:45, Mendocino 3009

Douglas Bonetti

This is an exciting seminar exploring many topics of the Civil War, such as causes of the war, technology and the war, key leaders, literature that emerged from the war, critical battles along with the life of the common soldier. I will lecture much of the time and also ask some class members to give short reports. This is an update to a class I gave last spring. You will have the chance in class to touch history—I will bring authentic weapons and memorabilia from my extensive collection. Add in guest speakers, and we will have an interesting class. Limited to 30.


This seminar has been cancelled!U.S. Vice Presidents (P)
Brighton 218 (Note: Room Change!)

Doris Keller, Kathy Mack

Most can only name a few recent Vice Presidents; though 47 VPs have been elected. We'll explore the requirements of the Vice President Office and how it has evolved since the constitutional era. Many served a term or two, several became President with the sitting President's death or resignation, and some were later elected President. We will research each VP to discover: their politics and families; what they did during and after their terms; and other interesting facts about them. This is a participatory seminar. Our success depends on class members willing to research and make a short report.

Virgil's Aeneid (D)
Douglass 109

Tom Slakey

The Aeneid is a Roman response to Homer's Greek heroes. I will be using the Fagles translation published by Penguin, but other translations are welcome. The first assignment is Book One, about 30 pages. Participants are expected to have read the assignment and come prepared for discussion. Registration is required. Limited to 15.


Watercolor Painting (A)
Kadema 170

Doyle Crawford

Describe your own creative ability through the beauty and excitement of transparent watercolor painting. Ability to draw is helpful, but this semester is for beginning to advanced students. Members of the class will do some instruction in the principles and elements of design. Students may choose their own projects. Class members will critique completed paintings, if desired; guests and experienced artist will be invited. Tony Couch You Can Do It text is provided for $20 but is not required. Limited to 31.


World War II: The Pacific War (L)
Eureka 108

Geoffrey Burroughs

The lecture/discussion of the Pacific War will begin with attention to the watershed events in Japan's history from 1853 through Dec. 7,1941. A more detailed examination of events from Dec. 7 through Aug. 15, 1945, will follow emphasizing: Japan's "victory disease" and the consequences at Midway, Guadalcanal and the Mariana Islands; its illogical end-game for the termination of the war; its preparation for the war in the home islands concurrent with a flawed "peace" proposal; finally, a discussion regarding whether the atom bomb (one or two) should have been used.


Writing Personal History: World War II (P)
Calaveras 135

Patrick Crowley

On a weekly basis class members are to prepare for reading out loud in class a paper of approximately 1,200 words regarding their personal experiences during the years of 1941 and 1945. Participants include members of the armed services, their spouses and children. Also, people from other countries during that period, internees, POWs, conscientious objectors, defense workers. At the end of the first semester or the second the goal is to publish a collection of the histories. This cohort is dying out and if not written down their histories will be lost forever. Limited to 15.


Writing Personal Histories (P)
Calaveras 134

Frederick Chapman

If you always wanted to write a series of short stories about your life, but never got around to actually writing, this is the class for you. Writing styles are not taught or critiqued. However, presentations by fellow participants will prompt recall or memories and help generate ideas for your own stories. Each short story, or portions of longer tales read over several sessions, should not be much longer than 800 words. Participants will be expected to write a story and read it each session, but participants should attend even if not making a presentation for a particular session. Limited to 15.

Saturday Seminars

David and Mike
The Boys of Spring Saturdays:
David Warren (left) and Mike Harkins
Photo by Roberta Gleeson

Ancient Greece: Maker Of Our Modern World (L)
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Mendocino 1003

David Warren

The Greek culture has been the model from which European and American cultures have evolved. It has been the idea for our architecture, statuary, philosophy, government, musical theory, drama and language. Let me share the Greek beginnings of our western civilization with you. Sharing this knowledge is a wonderful way to spend your Saturday mornings. There will be a 92-page syllabus for $15. Registration is required.

America's Hit Parade (1890-Present) (L)
12:30 to 2:45 p.m., Mendocino 1003

Mike Harkins

Think of the vast changes in popular music since we were teens. Then imagine how much music has evolved since the 1890s. This class surveys the shifting trends in America's most popular music by listening to the top artists and recordings of each decade. From the very first recordings to the synthesized digital tracks of today, we explore connections between each decade's best sellers and the social environment in which they were produced. How did war stoke the fires of ragtime, jazz and swing? What distinguishes pre-1955 music from post-1955 music? Join us to find out. No presentations required. This is a drop-in seminar.