Leading Opera expert Iain Scott in discussion with Later Life Learning Members.

Past Programmes


Fall 2017:

A: The Writers of the CanLit Boom – at Innis College

Lecturer: Nick Mount. Nick Mount is a professor in the Department of English, UofT, where he teaches Canadian literature. His book When Canadian Literature Moved to New York won the 2005 Gabrielle Roy Prize for the best book in Canadian literary criticism. 
This illustrated lecture series offers an introduction to—or a reminder of—the lives and works of ten of the most prominent writers to emerge in Canada between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s. The series is based on Nick’s new book, Arrival: The Story of CanLit, but goes deeper into his unpublished material, to feature the writers’ roots and lives, how they began writing, and of course, an overview of their books and how those have been received.  The subject list of writers will include Margaret Atwood, Marie-Claire Blais, George Bowering, Leonard Cohen, Mavis Gallant, Margaret Laurence, Dennis Lee, Alistair MacLeod, Alice Munro, bpNichol, Al Purdy, and Mordecai Richler.

B: Humanity Challenged in War and Peace – at Innis College
Lecturer:  Bob Douglas. Bob has taught courses for Ryerson’s Later Learning program and Learning Unlimited Etobicoke. He is the author of a two-volume study That Line of Darkness: The Spirit of Dracula and the Great War and That Line of Darkness: The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden.
This course investigates how ideology and the abuse of power that empowers groups to demonize and scapegoat the other have resulted in repression and terror. It examines how state terrorism in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, for instance, adversely affected combatants and civilians. Yet the course also focuses on those moments of humanity in the 20th century when empathy, courage and generosity appeared amid the darkness of repression. We explore the power of healing in the works and actions of such artists and public figures as Pete Seeger, Anna Akhmatova, Martin Luther King and Vaclav Havel.

C: Art & The Making of the Modern World – at Innis College
Lecturers: Elizabeth Legge & Jordan Bear.  Elizabeth has written on Dada, Surrealism, and contemporary Canadian and British art. Jordan’s special interests are 19th-century European art and the history and theory of photography.
This series provides an historical introduction to the visual arts produced during a period of unprecedented political, economic, and cultural change in Europe, from about 1760 to 1945.  This journey proceeds from the decaying courtly arts of the Rococo to the fully-realized abstract Modernisms of the early 20th century, traversing along the way the major (and some minor) works of Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism.  Throughout the lectures, particular emphasis is placed on locating these artistic developments within a broad set of historical contexts, providing the 'stories 'behind' the works of art, and showing the visual arts as a dynamic part of the making of the modern world.

E:  MAKE ‘EM LAUGH!  At Hot Docs, Ted Rogers CinemaPresenters include:Linda Beck (Cole Porter),Warren Clements (Films of Wonder), Peter Harris (The Roaring Twenties) and Michael Albano (UofT Music Faculty).

Many of you will recognize this title as Donald O’Connor’s delightful dance number from the film Singin’ In The Rain. Whether it’s Singin’ in the Rain or Kiss Me Kate or The Gold Rush or Die Fledermaus or The Mikado, most of us have favourite comic moments from opera, operetta, Broadway musicals, cinema.
For this series, four lecturers present their favourite scenes. And you the audience get to choose the selections for the finale! Expect much musical joy and side-splitting, pulse-pounding showstoppers!


Winter 2017:

A: Films of Wonder, by Warren Clements – at Innis College
Warren Clements was on the editorial board of The Globe and Mail, where his comic strip Nestlings ran from 1979 to 1993. He wrote columns on word play and home video. He co-wrote The Globe and Mail Style Book and edited such books as The Globe Challenge, The Full Mountie and Portfoolio 23/24/25, three annuals of Canada’s best editorial cartoons.

Certain directors have a knack for creating films that glow. These films are fun to watch, be they comedies or dramas. They stick in the mind as pleasurable experiences. They have a spark that makes them more than the sum of their parts. This series looks selectively at the light and lively output of several directors, some well-known, some less so. They include Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain), Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday), Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), Richard Lester (Help!, The Three Musketeers), the directors of Ealing Studios (Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Ladykillers), the team of Powell and Pressburger (The Thief of Bagdad, The Red Shoes), and Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle).All have one thing in common: They create transports of delight. This series will look at how they do it, and what they come up with. Several film clips will be shown in the course of the discussions.

B: Canada at 150 – featuring Various Speakers – at Innis College 
To celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial in 2017, LLL is presenting a series of lectures by scholars at U of T and Ryerson on Canada’s political, social and cultural history. The series is anchored by the eminent Political Science Professor Peter Russell, whose new book Canada's Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests will be available for sale at the series. Topics include:

Canada: A country based on Incomplete conquests; French Canada and the Dream of Nation; Long-term Economic Growth & Structural Change in the Canadian Economy; Sport and Canadian Nationalism at 150; The Founding Pillars at Confederation; The Dominion of Music; 150 Years of Canadian Cinema:  From Living Pictures to Netflix; Canadian Art or Art in Canada? The Arrival of Canlit; Canada’s continuing odyssey as a multinational and multicultural country.

C: Sacred Places/Special Spaces – featuring Various Speakers – at Innis College
A few places on earth seem for one reason or another … awesome. They take our breath away because they are wonders of nature, or because they are sites where human beings have felt in touch with the divine. Others beguile us because of associations with astonishing people. This series takes us on a tour of some of the world’s most hallowed places, with stops at churches, caves, a remote shrine in the Near East, an iconic soccer stadium, an opera house, a former Viking island, the country house of a pre-eminent scientist, an ancient Tuscan city, and a cottage where a Canadian Prime Minister tried to summon up the spirits of the dead.  Some sample titles:  Stairways to Heaven: The Sacred Sites of Le-Puy-en-Velay; FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou; Down House, where Darwin Changed the World; Bayreuth & its Festival; Ancient Enigma Codes: Prehistoric Cave Drawings in Spain & France. Sacred Space D.I.Y.: Mackenzie King and Family; Shakespeare & Stratford-on-Avon


Fall 2016

A: Let’s Do It! The Music of Cole Porter – at Innis College
Lecturer: Linda Beck. Linda taught English and ESL in Toronto and the U.S.A., but music has always been her first love. She has spent countless hours studying Cole Porter and trying to track down as many of his songs and shows as possible. She has taught a course on Cole Porter at the Life Institute at Ryerson University and gives talks to groups in the community about him and other creative geniuses of the 1920s and beyond.
Cole Porter stands out among 20th Century songwriters. He first attracted attention for his witty and sophisticated lyrics, but soon was recognized for melodies that were haunting and unforgettable. Porter’s songs reflect the unique nature of his life. No typical Tin Pan Alley composer, he was wealthy, well-educated and widely traveled, and he socialized with celebrities and titled aristocrats. 
Porter wrote twenty-five Broadway shows, eight original film scores and many hundreds of songs. But most of his admirers only know a few dozen songs and four or five shows. This series examines his output from 1910 through 1958 in the context of the Broadway musical and the Hollywood scene. It includes examples from his early work and his lesser-known songs. Photographs, film clips and music support the talks.

Course Outline


B: Perils in Paradise–the Clash of Nature & Culture on Oceanic Islands – at Innis College
Lecturer:  Professor Tony Davis, U of T. Tony is a physical geographer. His research focused on the reconstruction of past environments using pollen analysis. His teaching included courses in biogeography and field methods. Since  retire-ment he has been offering an introductory course in environmental history increasingly  with later life learning groups.
Oceanic islands were perceived until recently as exotic, mysterious and remote. That very remoteness has produced peculiar and vulnerable flora and fauna, and at the same time severely constrained human occupation. We examine the origins of oceanic islands and their distinctive biotas, the pattern of colonization, and the social, cultural, biological and economic consequences of settlement. Human impact, ancient and modern, was often immediate and massive; few places escaped.  Islands have been exploited for their natural resources and have served as prisons and places of exile. More recently, many have become strategically important, as well as tourist magnets. Some face bleak futures, most obviously as a consequence of global warming.

Course Outline


C: The Brain: An Amazing Time Travelling Machine – at Innis College
Lecturer: Guy Proulx. Dr. Guy Proulx is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Glendon College, York University. He is a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in cognitive aging. Recently, he has been focusing on the wide variability within the normal aging population.
The human brain has evolved into a meaning-making machine with incredible capacities to learn and change. It takes a whole life for a healthy aging brain and mind to develop and mature. Half of Canadians born in 2012 can expect to live to 100 years and there is hope that their “health expectancy” could be as long. This course surveys the fascinating brain and cognitive changes that take place over a lifetime. We see, for example, how the different functions of memory – that amazing time travelling machine – allow us to recapture the past and imagine possible futures. You will gain an inside view into the exciting world of brain, cognition and behaviour.

Course Outline


E: New York City, Paris, Berlin in the 1920s – at Bloor Cinema
Lecturer: Peter Harris. Peter is well known to members of Later Life Learning. He is the Speaker Coordinator for LLL, and previously has spoken on Berlin, the Bauhaus, and Expo ’58. Most recently (Fall 2015) he lectured on AMERICA IN THE POSTWAR ERA.
After WWI, New York City, Paris and Berlin all experience profound, even revolutionary changes. We examine these changes across a wide range of areas, including:
SOCIETY: Paris and Berlin lure writers of the American “Lost Generation”, while NYC gives berth to the Harlem Renaissance. All three become epicentres of the “flapper”, the new independent woman.
TECHNOLOGY: New and newly perfected devices transform urban life: the phonograph & cheap records; radio; affordable automobiles. Public address systems allow for mass spectator events.
ART: Expressionism, dada, Surrealism: art assumes new forms for the new urbanism.
MUSIC: Blues, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway: American music sweeps Europe.
CINEMA & THEATRE: A steady stream of German talent is lured to Hollywood, changing the face of American cinema. Brecht’s The Three Penny Opera features sharp political comment in a radical new “epic theatre” form.
ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN: the Bauhaus and Art Deco dazzle Europe; New York City pioneers new, enormous skyscrapers.

Course Outline

Winter 2016

A: Introduction to Folk Music – by Dr. Mike Daley
This course is a wide-ranging examination of Canadian and American folk music, especially that of the last century. We'll be covering the early history of folk song collecting and publishing as well as the field recordings of John and Alan Lomax among others. We'll also look at leftist protest song in the context of the 1930s labour movement and World War II. Beginning with the commercial breakthrough of the Weavers in 1950, we'll approach the 1950s-60s urban folk revival in the U.S. and Canada, including Toronto's own Travellers. Finally, we will talk about singer-songwriters and con- temporary folk music traditions, especially on Canada's East Coast. We'll hear the music of the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and other folk luminaries.

B: Urban Planning – featuring four different speakers
Lectures 1 – 4: City Building: A New Convergence, by Ken Greenberg.  Ken is an architect and former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto.

Click on the Blue highlighted titles below to see the lecture slides:

Lectures 5 – 8: Choices & Consequences for Toronto, by Paul Bedford. Paul is former Toronto Chief City Planner working with 8 Mayors & collaborating with Jane Jacobs in his 31 years with the City.

Lectures 9: Urban Transportation for the 21st Century, by Eric Miller. Dr. Eric J. Miller is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, U of T, and Director of the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute.

Lecture 10: Land Use & Planning in Southern Ontario, by David Crombie. David Crombie is the former Mayor of Toronto. He is chairing a Provincial Committee on future land use and zoning in Southern Ontario. His lecture discusses the Committee’s deliberations.

C: The Medieval Present – by Tim Nau
This series is about the modern world’s debt to medieval Europe. Many of us were taught in school that the Middle Ages was a time of barbarism and superstition.  It was --but then so was every other historical period before and after. What’s more interesting about the Middle Ages is its tremendous creativity. We’ll explore the early history of important modern institutions like parliament and the Catholic Church, as well as key medieval ideas like chivalry and the rights of the individual. We’ll also have a look at the Arthurian legends, Gothic architecture, fantasy literature and a number of practical innovations like silent reading, form-fitting clothing, banking and musical notation.  


Fall 2015

Lecturer: Peter Harris. Peter is the former Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto. He has taught courses on the Postwar Era in the Vic One Programme at Victoria College, U of T, for the last 12 years.
This series explores major cultural, political and social events and personalities in the USA during the tumultuous Cold War era from 1945 to 1991. It emphasizes two often closely related areas:
1) The Domestic Scene: In 1945 the USA emerged as one of two new world superpowers. We will look at some of the profound domestic changes in American postwar society, including: the spectacular rise of “the affluent society”; the changing roles of women; the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement; the Swinging Sixties; Pop Art and Land Art.
2) The Cold War: The war-time alliance of the USA and the USSR quickly deteriorated into a decades-long ideological struggle, characterized by such events as the Berlin Blockade; the Hungarian Revolution; the Vietnam War; the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. (Has the Cold War really ended?)

Lecturer: Rick Phillips: B. Mus., M. Mus., former Host and Producer of “Sound Advice” on CBC Radio One and Radio Two, now a writer, lecturer, reviewer, webcaster and musical tour guide.
Classical Music requires a middleman – a performer, who acts as the link between the composer or creator and us, the audience. This performer, or “re-creator,” has an invaluable role in the presentation and interpretation of music and there have been many legendary musicians who have become household names. This informative and enlightening series will delve into several masterful, and sometimes controversial, performing musicians like Bernstein, Heifetz, Gould, Rubinstein, Rostropovich and others. Through recordings and film clips, we'll discover what it is that makes them so great.

Lecturer: Gary Crawford, FRSC, is Professor of Anthropology at U of T Mississauga, where he has taught for 35 years. His archaeological research has taken him throughout eastern North America, to China and Japan. Among his many accomplishments is a TV Ontario series “Archaeology from the Ground Up”.
This series highlights the extraordinary contributions of archaeologists to our understanding of the ancient human past. Three themes are explored: How do archaeologists conduct their research? Dating, remote sensing, even grains recovered from ancient food preparation tools, are uncovering secrets we once thought could never be revealed.
Key questions are examined. Under what circumstances did modern humans arise? Why did we take up agriculture? What is the reason for the Nazca lines in Peru? Who really discovered North America? How far did the Vikings get into the interior (were there actually Minnesota Vikings?)? What’s with alternative archaeology? The History Channel promotes ancient aliens, the reality of Atlantis, and North America as the hiding place of various Christian relics. Why do people like Graham Hancock and Richard Freund propose that some unknown super power like Atlantis is behind all civilizations?


Winter 2015:

Lecturer: Damiano Pietropaolo. Damiano is a producer/director, writer and translator who has won a number of national and international awards. He is the former director of CBC Radio Drama and Features, and Radio Arts & Entertainment.
The invention of recording technologies in the 19th century - sound, photography, and moving image - caused the written/printed word to lose ground to these new forms of expression. Making use of sound, images and motion pictures, this series traces the development of multimedia performance approaches in the last 100 years in Theatre & Drama, Radio & Television, and Cinema & Performance Art.  Examples range from the Italian Futurists in the 1900s up to Glenn Gould, Janet Cardiff, and recent Philip Glass/Robert Wilson collaborations.

Lecturer: David Crombie. The Toronto Star describes our former Mayor as “quietly ubiquitous in the hallways of civic  life.” Think Toronto Lands Corp., Ryerson Image Centre, a museum of Toronto history, the Rouge Valley as a national park, and more.  He remains a “chronically cheerful” civic booster.  
From the mists of the aboriginal time to the energy of today's "global village", Toronto has always been a gathering place - a place of trade and commerce, stabilized by community and endowed with the essential sinews of human hope.  This course will explore Toronto's history, assess its current situation and discuss its future possibilities.
We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started / And to know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

Lecturers: Anne Urbancic (Italy) and David Clandfield (France). Anne and David are both    professors at the University of Toronto, where they teach courses on this lively topic. 
In recent years, historians have focused attention on cultural expression through all five senses.  Italy and France have each claimed, in different eras, to lead the other in the arts and performances we see and hear, but also in those that we smell, taste and touch.  We go on a Grand Tour of these two European cultures, comparing and contrasting their delights sense by sense and revealing some of their tumultuous interactions.

Fall 2014:

A: The City States of the Italian Renaissance - Lectures by Professor Kenneth Bartlett, award-winning teacher in the Renaissance Studies Program, Victoria College, U of T.
This illustrated series will discuss the culture and history of the Italian Renaissance as manifested in the various city states of the peninsula from the early 14th to the later 16th century. The major centres of cultural and political power will reveal the diversity of Renaissance style in the context of the shared commitment to the examples of ancient Rome. Competition among the states of Italy for the finest artists, architects, poets and writers will be shown to constitute war by other means, resulting in a rich cultural tradition that still inspires us today.

B: World’s Fairs: Innovation, Modernity and Material Culture - Lectures by different speakers from the University of Toronto and elsewhere.
Since their inception in London in 1851, World's Fairs have been multifaceted displays of industry and entertainment, in their guise as the quintessence of all that is modern and innovative.  Intimately connected with the development of what we may now call "material culture" – studying our engagement with the physical world through specific objects - World’s Fairs have brought us such diverse artefacts as the Eiffel Tower, the Barcelona sofa, the Ferris Wheel, and Dr. Pepper. This series considers the following World’s Fairs:  
• The Great Exhibition, London 1851–Prof. Lori Loeb. • Centenniel International Exhibition of 1876, Philadelphia–Mr. Tim Nau. • L’Exposition Universalle, Paris 1889 & 1900; • l’Exposition international, Paris 1925 & 1937–Prof. David Clandfield. • Italian World’s Fairs: Turin, 1911; Rome, 1942; Expo Milano, 2015-Prof. Luca Somigli. • Spanish World’s Fairs: Barcelona, 1929; Seville, 1992; •1939-40 &1964-65 New York World’s Fairs-Prof. Bob Davidson. • World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 and A Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, 1933-Prof. Arthur Weis. • Expo 58 (Brussels World’s Fair), 1958-Prof. Peter Harris. • 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67), Montreal-Prof. Dennis Duffy.

 C: University of Toronto: Great Minds at Work - Lectures by different speakers from the University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a sprawling modern multiversity, containing many faculties, centres, colleges, and programs.  This series gives you the opportunity to hear about the academic pursuits and passions - some might even say obsessions! - of faculty members from diverse areas of the University, including, among others: philosophy (Mark Kingwell); archaeology (Gary Crawford); photo journalism (Rita Leistner); medical science (Andrew Baines); landscape, architecture & design (Alissa North); psychiatry and psychology (Jordan Peterson); visual studies (Lisa Steele & Kim Tomczak); and kinesiology & physical education (Bruce Kidd).


Winter 2014:

A:  Fire and Ice, Drought and Flood: a History of our Interaction with the Environment: presented by Tony Davis, professor emeritus, UofT Dept. of Geography.

This series focuses on the history of our increasing interaction with our environment. We begin with the two natural controls on global environment, internal energy (plate tectonics) and external energy (solar radiation), and how these have constrained evolution and our global diaspora. Then we consider the first human global impacts: plant and animal domestication. The ensuing globalization had huge effects, for instance, the mixing of disease pools and its cultural and economic consequences. We also discuss long and short-term climatic events, such as the Little Ice Age and El Nino, and the damage we have brought to island ecosystems. For some, the radical changes we have imposed on the Earth warrant the identification of a new age: the Anthropocene – The Age of Man.

The following Class Handouts are provided with the permission of Professor Tony Davis: (Click on item to view slides)

Suggested Reading List


B:  Shakespeare and his Followers: multi-speakers (most UofT professors, one from Waterloo and one from Western). 

Shakespeare has had a massive impact on our lives since his works began to appear in the late 16th century. This series examines some individual plays, and traces his wide-ranging influence in different media down to our own time.
Henry V (Prof. Alexander Leggatt)    Antony & Cleopatra (Prof. Brian Parker) Richard III (Prof. Norma Rowen)   Romeo & Juliet (Prof. Jill Levenson) Shakespeare & Verdi (Profs Linda & Michael Hutcheon) The Merchant of Venice (Prof. Ted McGee) Shakespeare’s Ongoing Influence (Prof. Jill Levenson) Hamlet Goes to the Movies (Prof. Alan Somerset); The Taming of the Shrew & Its Adaptations (Prof. Anne Lancashire); Shakespeare & West Side Story (Prof. Andrea Most).


C:  Design for the Times: presented by Lorna Kelly, professor emeritus, Ryerson Dept. of Design.  Topics include William Morris, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Post-War, etc.

Imagine four chairs - all for the same purpose, but each radically different in design: what is the inspiration behind each design? This series explores the design movements that have quite literally shaped our contemporary world. It examines the painting, the architecture, and the interior designs of these movements, and the ideas behind them. Included are: the Arts & Crafts movement in Britain and the USA; Charles Rennie Mackintosh; the art nouveau movement in France and elsewhere; Frank Lloyd Wright; the Bauhaus; Art Deco; the Golden Section; International Design; Post Modernism; new technology: where we go next.



Fall 2013:

A:  The Rollicking History of The English Language

Lecturer - Katherine Barber, "Canada's Word Lady"

Did you know the word "travel" is derived from an instrument of torture? That "tragedy" originally had something to do with goats?
The English language is full of such surprises. Why is English spelling so chaotic? Why do we have so many synonyms? What might your name tell you about the history of the language? What is the history behind your biggest pet peeve in English?
This course is a highly entertaining and informative survey of the influences that have shaped our language: Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans; then Latin and Greek borrowings; then standardization and French borrowing in the 18th century; lastly, international borrowing since the 18th century. As we make our way through these many linguistic developments we’ll tie them in with concurrent social and political events. 

B:  Ten Great World Cities –

Lecturer - Various

Earth has not anything to show more fair…”; “under the bridges of Paris with you…”; “Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town…”. Great cities have always inspired passionate outpourings in song, poetry, film, and art. Who doesn’t have fond memories and insider tips about his or her favourite city? “This rooftop bar in Roppongi has a great view over Tokyo…”. “From our hotel window we could see the Ponte Vecchio!” “Pope John’s favourite gelateria in Rome is…”
Join us in this series “Ten Great World cities” for insights into Paris, Rome, New York City, London, Chicago, Tokyo, Barcelona, Florence, Berlin, and Rio de Janeiro. The lectures are by U of T faculty members who have lived in, written about, and fallen in love with these fascinating places.

C:  Outstanding Canadian Women

Lecturer - Various

“Whether in the media spotlight or quietly behind the scenes, women have always played important roles in the development of our country’s history, society, and culture. Join us for this series to meet ten remarkable women committed to their work and their causes:   
* Author Maureen Jennings (The Murdock Mysteries); * Author and journalist Sally Armstrong (Bitter Roots Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan's Women); * Activist and humanitarian Marianne Heller (Inner-City Angels, No Empty Seats); * (via Skype) an Inuit Artist from the Museum of Inuit Art in Nunavut; * Chinyere Eni, an amputee, cyclist and banker; * Tae-Kwon-Do Master Angela Scarsellone; ¡Irene Frolic, a glass artist; * Social justice advocate and author Marina Nemat (After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed); * Architect Catherine Nasmith (Heritage Toronto, Doors Open); * The first Asian woman senator, the Hon. Dr. Vivienne Poy.


Winter 2013

Myths and Legends in Opera
Lecturer – Iain Scott

Opera abounds in the mysterious and the unexplained. From the larger-than-life demigods of ancient Greece, Babylon, Egypt and Rome, to the medieval Knights-Errant of the Celtic Twilight, to the Heroic Sagas from the Norse Mists, to the enigma wrapped in a riddle which is Russia, to the Faustian Pact and the Eternal Feminine, to Fairy Tales for adults, - even to operatic x-files and the supernatural … there is a wealth of material to intrigue and delight in opera. In our exploration, we will encounter great literary figures such as Homer, Virgil, Goethe and Shakespeare ... and we will encounter great thinkers such as Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. All because myths and legends – combined with the power of great music - tell us something about our inner selves.


Frontiers of Medicine
Lecturer – Maire Percy

During the past decade, remarkable advances have been made in biomedical sciences and medicine. However, pressing challenges still remain, and unforeseen, significant threats to human health are bound to arise in the future, in part from climate change and pollution. This series will feature the following frontiers: global health - premature mortality in developed and developing countries: The Next 40 Years (Dr. Prabhat Jha); genetics and genomics in medicine (Dr. Stephen Scherer); stem cells and their therapeutic potentials (Dr. Janet Rossant); how the brain can change itself: the woman who changed her brain (Barbara Arrowsmith-Young); microbes in our guts: do they affect our behaviour? (Dr. Derrick MacFabe); rehabilitation medicine (tba); the new diabetes “epidemic” (Dr. Patricia Brubaker); revolution in cancer diagnosis and treatment (Dr. Linda Penn); plagues, pestilence and pandemics: what is new in infectious diseases? (Dr. Allison McGeer); ageing, dementia and ethical issues in end of life care (Dr. Michael Gordon).

Plays That Shook the World
Lecturer – Philippa Sheppard

During this whirlwind tour of drama through the ages, expect lavish illustration with clips from performances, tantalizing tidbits about the playwrights’ lives, and revelations about the plays’ commentary on human society. Each period of drama will be introduced with a brief description of performance conditions (for example, the Roman amphitheatres, the London theatres-in-the-round, the proscenium arch theatres). We will trace vital themes as they change through time, particularly the role of the supernatural, of the class system, and of the battle of the sexes.
Philippa Sheppard has had an enduring love-affair with drama; studied drama for three degrees, culminating as a Commonwealth Scholar at Oxford where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on Elizabethan Drama. She has taught university-level drama in Dublin, Newfoundland and Toronto. Philippa has written many articles on drama in both academic and popular publications, and appeared on TV and radio discussing her obsession.


Fall 2012

Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors: American Movies and the Politics of Idealism

Lecturer – Kevin Courrier

What took us so long!  Kevin Courrier is one of the best known lecturers and reviewers on the Toronto film scene.  And finally he’s coming to Innis Town Hall to give us a new slant on how American movies reflect the political times.  When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in November 2008, the historic event ignited a fever of idealism not felt since 1960 when John Kennedy first declared the coming of a New Frontier.  Due to that sixties’ utopian spirit, you could turn to almost any American film and recognize the political period that spawned it.  In this series, Kevin examines how key American movies from the last forty years have come to echo the secret aspirations and dashed expectations of the country’s deeply divisive elements.

Ten Classical Masterpieces that Changed Music
Lecturer – Rick Phillips

We got to know him through the CBC Radio’s long-running Sound Advice and we got   to love him as Later Life’s classical Man of Music.  Now Rick Phillips, writer, speaker, musical tour guide and broadcaster, is back to take us on a journey through the ages.  Throughout history, he says, great art, literature and music have caught and reflected
our lives and times – the human experience.  Here the touchstone is music and he’ll be bringing us legendary recordings from the past and the present, often classical masterpieces that opened up new perspectives and altered the development of music.  Plus, of course, his special insights designed to increase our interest, love and
enjoyment of classical music. Forever.
The Realm of Dance

Lecturer – Michael Crabb

Waltz, pirouette, jig, tango, flamenco…. so many words to describe a human activity so old, so fundamental that people danced before there was a name for it.  Dance, says our lecturer, Michael Crabb, is the outer expression of the inner pulse of life.  And how fortunate we are to have as our dance-master one of Canada’s leading literary exponents of this popular art form.  Michael has written about the performing arts for almost 40 years.  He is an author, radio producer, former host of CBC’s Arts Report, and currently dance critic for The Toronto Star.  And this is not just a course about ballet.  Richly illustrated with film and video, it goes to the very heart of the art – what is dance, and why do we dance?  Dance has been a missing ingredient in the Later Life roster.  Now we’re making up – in spades.

Update Notes Dec. 2012:

This was a very popular series; Michael Crabb was a wonderful lecturer. At the last class Michael delighted attendees with a live 'Gangnam style' performance by some Innis students. View it at LLL Gangnam style


Winter 2012

The Great Popular Singers - Lecturer – Mike Daley

Back by popular demand, Mike will pay tribute to modern interpreters of the American songbook such as Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall, as well as taking us back to where it all began, Tin Pan Alley, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and others.


Not Only Enstein - Lecturer - Daniela Monaldi

Daniela Monaldi puts the lives and works of original thinkers such as Newton, Darwin, Marie Curie-Sklodowska, J. Robert Oppenheimer (and Einstein) in the context of their times.


Toronto History - Lecturer - Various

Chapters in Toronto's remarkable history will be presented by historians such as Marta O'Brien, Mike Filey, Derek Boles and others.


Past Programmes:

Fall 2011

Baroque Art - Lecturer – Francis Broun

Studies the works of some of the greatest masters in the history of Western are starting in Italy and travelling to Flanders, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic.


Pursuing Reality - Documentaries - Lecturer - Gillian Helfield

Examines various reality-driven aesthetics, theories, movements and genres in film and television realism.


Japan - Lecturer - Momo Kano Podolsky (replaced by James Heron and Koko Kikuchi)

From the disaster of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami to the ancient tea ceremony, this course provides clues to an understanding of how things work in Japanese culture and society.


Winter 2011

Humphrey Bogart

Named “The Greatest Male Star of All Time” by the American Film Institute, Humphrey Deforest Bogart (1899-1957) remains one of the most beloved and watchable film actors in celluloid history.

Lecturer – Stephen Scharper

One Hundred Years of Jazz

One Hundred Years of Jazz traces the development of jazz from slave songs and marching band music through New Orleans and the Big Band era to bebop, cool jazz and beyond.

Lecturer - Dr. Michael Daley


This course will examine Russia’s transformations, from medieval Kievan Rus to the modern Russian state.

Lecturer - Dr. Julia Zarankin


Fall 2010

Canadian Flavours
Lectures cover Canadian Architecture, Quebec Cinema, Canadian Music, Reading Trudeau and Canadian History though Art.  Some of the lecturers are Joe Schlesinger, Carlos Ventin, Dr. Gillian Helfield, Dr. Robin Elliott, Dr. George Elliot Clark, and Shelley Falconer.

Exploring Great Scenes from Opera
Popular lecturer Iain Scott returns by popular demand.

Many Paths to God
Dr. J.W. Windland is returning to provide in-depth lectures about a number of religions including Jainism, Jehovah Witnesses and Sikhism. 

Winter 2010

Galileo’s Legacies
Lecturer: Dr. John R. Percy

Dream Dresses – In Hollywood Film
Lecturers: Dr. Stephen Scharper and Dr. Hillary Cunningham Scharper

Canadian Rhapsody
Lecturers included: Dr. Stephen Clarkson; Dr. Nick Mount and Dr. Mary Ladky.

Fall 2009

St. Petersburg: A Portrait of a City
Dr. Julia Zarankin

Great Recordings
Lecturer: Rick Phillips

Human Nature – A Philosophical Perspective
Lecturer: Dr. Ronnie De Sousa

Winter 2009

Film Noir
Lecturer: Dr. Stephen Scharper

Literature for Our Time
Lecturer: Dr. Nick Mount

World Religions
Lecturer: Dr. J.W. Windland