Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Splendor of England’s West Country

April 17, 2013

This summer, Barry Greenlaw will take us on an enchanting journey to the rocky shores and windswept moors of England’s West Country and Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.  The ancient cultures that flourished in Devon and Cornwall have left their unique mark on this rugged land. Here are some interesting facts about this fascinating and dramatic region of maritime England.  Did you know…

  • “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, one of the best known of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, was set on the mysterious moors of Devon.
  • The ruins of Tintagel Castle in Cornwall have long been associated with the mythical King Arthur and home of the legendary Knights of the Round Table.
  • In 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the new world from Plymouth, establishing Plymouth Colony – the second English colony in what is now the United States of America.

The southern coasts of Devon and Cornwall were frequented by pirates due to the many hidden coves and inlets.  Gilbert and Sullivan’s well-known operetta, The Pirates of Penzance (1880), is set along the Cornish coast.

  • The Jersey and Guernsey breeds of dairy cows, originally bred in the Channel Islands, produce the famous “gold top milk” which has a high butterfat content.
  • The Channel Islands are the only part of Britain occupied by the Germans in World War II.

This afternoon class (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm) starts on July 8th, 2013 and continues for four fabulous weeks exploring England’s West Country and Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

How well do you know the Impressionists?

April 30, 2013


1) How many times was Degas married?

A. Only once.
B. Twice.
C. He never married.

2) In his later years, Pierre-Auguste Renoir suffered from which disability?

A. Rheumatism
B. Dysentery
C. Sciatica

3) Who was Monet’s favorite model?

A. His first wife, Camille.
B. HIs second wife, Alice.
C. His next door neighbor, a ballerina.

4) What was Monet’s actual first name?

A. Claude
B. Oscar-Claude
C. Clause Oscar

5) Which artist was often described as / considered to be the “father of modern art”?

A. Renoir
B. Monet
C. Cezanne
D. Degas


1. C. He never married.

2.  A. Rheumatism.

3.  A. His first wife, Camille.

4. B. Oscar-Claude.

5. C. Cezanne.

Golden Years: Later Works of the Great Impressionists

April 22, 2013

“The secret to artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure.  So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting.  The secret is not to look back.” – Norman Rockwell

The history of art is rife with artists who died tragically young, such as the gifted Venetian Renaissance painter Giorgione, the troubled Dutch Post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh, and the late 20th century Pop artist icon Keith Haring.  But, what about those artists who painted well into their golden years?  According to David Brauer, several of our most well-known Impressionist painters enjoyed decades-long careers.  We visited recently with David Brauer to find out about his upcoming class, “Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Monet and their Later Works.”

Monet Photo of Monet with paintings

WIH Reporter: What is important to know about your class?

Brauer:  Whenever you have an artist who lives a very long time like Renoir, Monet, Degas, it is fairly consistent that the earlier works get the most attention because they tend to be the most pioneering, groundbreaking works.  Therefore, the later works are somewhat neglected.  All of these artists share the distinction that their work retained its significance over the decades.  Because they are all great artists, their work deepened, became more profound.


WIH Reporter: As they got older, did they repeat the earlier themes or did some of them blaze new trails?

Brauer: Impressionism meant different things for these four artists.  You couldn’t have two artists more different than Renoir and Cezanne or Degas and Monet.  Degas’s work featured the human body heavily, where Monet focused on landscape, nature.

I always stress that all of these artists changed almost decade by decade.  For example, the Monet of the 1860s was not the Monet of the 1870s and certainly not the Monet of the 20th century. They all evolved.

at the bar crop

WIH Reporter:  Is this something that you’ve always been curious about?

Brauer: I’ve always been interested in artists who lived a long time and produced great work till the end, like these artists and Michelangelo and Titian, for example.  The later works may not be as famous, however.

There is a profundity that can come with age and experience that is not automatic.  In the case of these artists, when you look at the late works of all of them, they have a profundity, a depth that gives them their ultimate voice.

Just like great poets or great writers, if they can keep their focus throughout life, it brings with it a depth of experience and knowledge that you cannot have when you are younger.  Then you start to ponder questions like “What if Van Gogh had lived another 20 years?”  He wouldn’t have been the Van Gogh that he was when he died.

This afternoon course (1:00pm-3:00pm) begins on May 8th, 2013 and runs for four weeks.


The Great American Short Story

April 30, 2013

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Who are the great short story writers in American literature?  What makes the nature of a short story different from a novel?  These intriguing questions and more will be answered in Abby Goode’s upcoming class “The Best of American Short Fiction”.  We recently sat down with Abby to discuss this interesting topic:


WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about your class?

Abby Goode: While we will read these stories closely for literary features–imagery, tone, irony, for example–we will also contextualize them within a broad frame of American literary history and its major movements. So we will start to understand the evolution of short fiction within the broader context of American romanticism, modernism, and beyond.


We will also look at some contemporary adaptations of some of these stories in film and media. Specifically, we will look at the film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring Marilyn Monroe and discuss the comedic culture of blondes in the twentieth century.

WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about short fiction in comparison to the other literary genres?

Goode: In the American literary tradition, there is an endless array of the types of short fiction one can find–detective stories, ghost stories, psychological thrillers, romances, tragedies, regional tall tales, anything–you name it! Beyond that, the genre, because it is shorter forces more rapid character development and is often dense with meaning and difficult to unpack. Novels, for instance, offer more “clues” as to the meaning and historical context of the text. So I like to think of short stories as little gems or treasures of literary value, but also as challenges for the reader.

WIH Reporter: Is the short story still alive and well today?

Goode: Yes. Don DeLillo’s Pafko at the Wall is more a novella than a short story, and Julia Alvarez is currently writing short fiction, such as A Cafecito Story. The late Kurt Vonnegut was known for his short stories, especially Report on the Barnhouse Effect, as is Stephen King, who continues to write short stories and novellas today.


WIH Reporter: What current writers have been influenced by the ones you are spotlighting?

Goode: The obvious one to include is Toni Morrison, who has been said to have been influenced by Faulkner’s high modernist style. Morrison undoubtedly has her own style, though. Beyond that, however, I’m not sure I can answer that– because I don’t know for sure who officially declares Hemingway, Faulkner, Hawthorne, Melville and beyond their influences. But I would guess that contemporary novelists and short story writers like Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, and Alice Walker have been influenced by all of these writings as they find their own voice and style.

WIH Reporter: What books would we find on your night table?

Goode: American novelist Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) and Brazilian postmodern writer Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star (1977). I’m looking forward to reading Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) next.

This afternoon course (1:00pm-3:00pm) begins on June 6th, 2013 and runs for four weeks