Mobsters in the movies. Edgar Allan Poe: Man of Science. Valentine’s Day pasta, Octavia Butler, American individualism, Frida Kahlo, and Ric Burns on The Waste Land.
These and more are a few of the Winter classes from Roundtable by the 92nd Street Y, New York, an online learning platform offering a wide variety of courses by experts from around the world.
Winter classes in The Arts; Cooking, Food & Drink; Current Events, Politics & Economics; History; and Literature are on sale now with more being added every day.
Here are some highlights from each section. All times ET.
MOB RULES: ORGANIZED CRIME IN MOVIES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE TO THE 21ST CENTURY
Starts Thu, Jan 26 – Feb 23, 7 pm, $125 for 5 sessions
Join film critic Glenn Kenny, author of Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas , for a deep dive into the movies that gave mobsters the spotlight. This survey will examine not the crime movie as such, but movies that portray, at varying levels, organized crime, both in the United States and in Europe. We’ll be looking at how such movies changed their modes of depiction, showing energetic antiheroes with plenty of on-screen charisma (James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and more). We’ll also look at the morality of these movies: what is it about them that makes mobsters so attractive? By the time we reach the 21st century and more brutal realism, we see that mythmaking has been replaced by near-documentary distaste.
STRAIGHT FROM NEW ORLEANS: LOUIS ARMSTRONG, JELLY ROLL MORTON AND THE INVENTION OF JAZZ
Starts Mon, Feb 6 – Apr 24, 5:55 pm, $352 for 11 sessions
Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton are two of the essential fathers of the uniquely American music known as Jazz. Armstrong’s trumpet and vocal style permanently altered the course of popular music in the United States and around the world, while Morton is widely considered to be jazz’s first great composer. This semester we trace their paths from the streets of New Orleans to Chicago and New York City; from their apprenticeships in New Orleans’ red-light district to their landmark recording sessions of the later 1920s, Armstrong with his Hot Five and Hot Seven bands and his early solo work, and Morton with his Red Hot Peppers. We’ll also compare their work to the work of important contemporaries and explore how each man navigated the racial inequality and various cultural forces of their time to leave an indelible mark on the history of American culture.
THE SCIENTIFIC SIDE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
Starts Thu, Feb 16 – Mar 2, 10:30 am, $120 for 3 sessions
Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most popular American writers around the world, continues to captivate audiences as an ingenious puzzle-maker, pioneer of detective fiction, and author of haunting, atmospheric verse. Warburg Institute Professor and author John Tresch reveals a lesser-known side to Poe: a man of science who was an avid consumer of scientific developments, published and circulated in literary circles that also hosted lectures and demonstrations by the era’s most prominent scientists, semi-scientists, and pseudo-intellectuals. Tresch explores Poe beyond “The Raven,” highlighting works like his “Sonnet—to Science,” “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” and “Mesmeric Revelation,” in which Poe explores subjects ranging from the physics of vortices to the origins of the universe, winning the admiration of Albert Einstein and other twentieth century physicists. Learn how Poe’s study of mathematics and engineering at West Point solidified a scientific fascination that he nurtured from his earliest days as a writer. Tresch offers a rich portrait of the writer whose life is synonymous with mystery and celebrates Poe’s participation in and influence on the world of American science.
FRIDA KAHLO IN AMERICA
Starts Thu, Mar 9 – 30, 3 pm, $160 for 3 sessions
In 1930, adventure-loving artist Frida Kahlo realized her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Join art historian and author of Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist , Celia Stahr, to learn about this monumental move, at only twenty-three years old and newly married to the already-established artist Diego Rivera. Stahr explores this crucial crossroads in Kahlo’s life in a new place, filled with both magnificent beauty and horrific poverty, racial tension, and antisemitism. Learn how these experiences pushed Frida in unexpected directions, producing shifts in her style of painting, cracks in her marriage, and multiple tragedies. The lonely feeling of being a stranger in a strange land fueled her creative passions and solidified her sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, follow the pivotal American journey that made Senora Rivera the world-famous Frida Kahlo.
COOKING, FOOD & DRINK
Sylvie Bigar & Marion Sultan
Wed, Feb 8, 6:30 pm, $35
Join Cassoulet Confessions author Sylvie Bigar and recipe developer Marion Sultan as they demystify the three-day journey through cassoulet. Sylvie will walk you through her paired down Gateway Cassoulet recipe and give you the tips and tricks you need to execute the three-day masterpiece that is a traditional French cassoulet. You’ll also hear some of Sylvie’s personal stories from when she accepted an apparently anodyne writing assignment on the French ancestral bean and meat stew. She could not have imagined that she was about to jump into a rabbit hole that would lead her miles away from her upper-crust childhood in Switzerland, and force her to reckon with her identity and her dramatic family history.
VALENTINE’S DAY PASTA WITH ROSEMARY-MUSHROOM TOMATO SAUCE
Noah Galuten & Iliza Shlesinger
Mon, Feb 13, 6:30 pm, $25
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, join Noah Galuten and Iliza Shlesinger for a colorful dish that will convince you that cooking at home is the best way to enjoy a special evening.
JEWISH ITALY: FOOD, CULTURE & TRAVEL
Mon, Mar 27, 6:30 pm, $27
Italy is home to Europe’s oldest Jewish community, dating to 200 BC in ancient Rome. Discover Italy’s cucina ebraica — or Hebrew kitchen — and desserts like sour cherry cheesecake from Rome’s famed Forno del Ghetto. Learn the stories behind many alla giudia (“Jewish way”) dishes like fried artichokes and goose salami as you enjoy a virtual tour of Italy’s many Jewish historic sights: Italy’s original ghetto erected in Venice in 1516; Rome’s Jewish Heritage Museum; and Florence’s Tempio Israelitico, a Moorish style 19th century synagogue.
CURRENT EVENTS, POLITICS & ECONOMICS
FIVE ECONOMIC CRASHES THAT CHANGED AMERICA
Thu, Mar 2 & 9, 1 pm, $80 for 2 sessions
Blend economic and cultural history with Scott Nations, a longtime trader and CNBC contributor, and explore five significant stock market crashes that defined US history. The stories behind the great crashes — the Panic of 1907, Black Tuesday (1929), Black Monday (1987), the Great Recession (2008), and the Flash Crash (2010) — are filled with drama, human foibles, and heroic rescues. Together, they tell the larger story of a nation reaching enormous heights of financial power while experiencing precipitous dips that alter and reset a market. Nations will show how each of these major crashes played a role in America’s political and cultural fabric, providing painful lessons that have strengthened us and helped us build the nation we know today. Learn from the connections between these major financial collapses and how knowing this history can help prevent the next one.
THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM
Starts Wed, Jan 18 – Feb 1, 3 pm, $120 for 3 sessions
Alex Zakaras, author of The Roots of American Individualism: Political Myth in the Age of Jackson , explores how American individualism arose and how it has shaped American politics across two centuries. The course focuses in particular on the turbulent political controversies of the Jacksonian Era (1820–1850) and shows that American individualism finds its origins there. Each of the course’s three sessions examines one powerful political story (or myth) that rose to dominance during this period: the myth of the independent proprietor, the myth of the rights-bearer, and the myth of the self-made man. Studying these three myths together reveals the complexity of American individualism and shows how individualist stories have been used for many competing political purposes, on both the political Left and the Right. The course also considers the following key themes: the relationship between individualism and American inequality, including racial and gender hierarchies; the birth of free market ideology in America; and the power of political myth in American politics.
T.S. ELIOT AND THE WASTE LAND AT 100
Wed, Jan 25 & Feb 1, 12 pm, $80 for 2 sessions
T.S. Eliot began working on The Waste Land while convalescing from a nervous break in the years after World War I. It’s no wonder this poem — a major canonical modernist work — reckons with loss, despair, and alienation. Eliot evokes both the everyday and the mythical to create a poem that remains as gripping and relevant today as it was in 1922. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns has long been fascinated by The Waste Land. Let Burns be your guide to this masterpiece of the 20th century. He will contextualize The Waste Land within history and within Eliot’s career, while exploring why it is arguably the greatest poem in the modern canon of English-language poetry.
US INTELLECTUAL HISTORY THROUGH BANNED BOOKS
Starts Wed, Feb 1 – 15, 3 pm, $105 for 3 sessions
What can we learn from banned books? The books that scandalized people from the past give us a window into their values, prejudices, and taboos. Investigate three canonical-but-banned books – Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – while tracing the progression of intellectual history in America.
READING OCTAVIA E. BUTLER
Thu, Feb 16 & 23, 2:30 pm, $80 for 2 sessions
Fledgling , the last novel written by science fiction prophet and MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Octavia E. Butler, is both a riveting exploration of race, class, and sexuality and an exciting adventure pitting vampire against vampire. Join Nisi Shawl, Butler’s friend and an award-winning author, to explore the complex character of Shori — the powerful Black heroine and genetic experiment at Fledgling’s heart — and the community she builds, as we look for clues about how to grow our own communities.
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