Alumni College Course Descriptions-Spring 2014





Just a reminder that courses being offered in New York and New Haven and are open to Yale Alumni and their family members only.

The courses being offered in Greenwich are open to the public at large in addition to Yale Alumni and family.


In New York

March 3 – April 7, 2014

Professor Gordon Turnbull

The European Literary Tradition: Comic Drama

Classes will be on Mondays in New York 4:20 – 5:50 pm


Theater, from its inception, has compelled us to laugh, but in strange and complex ways — pleasurably, tearfully, hysterically, nervously, defensively, fearfully, cruelly, and more. Comic theater has both the pleasure of delight, and the savagery of satire, and has both the power to please and the power to laugh at its own audience. This course will survey these and other aspects of the drama of comedy in a selection of six plays, from Aristophanes to Tom Stoppard.


Professor Meir Kryger

The Mystery of Sleep

Classes will be on Mondays in New York 6:00 – 7:30 pm


We sleep about a third of every day. For most of us that will be 20 to 30 years of our total time on Earth. All living things, from viruses, to cells, to insects, to reptiles, to birds to animals have periods each day when they are active and when they are inactive. Is sleep a waste of time when we could be productive? Is it a time when we are resting and safe? Do our dreams and sleep take us into other worlds? Are these worlds wonderful or dangerous? Why are artists fascinated by sleep? Why are scientists and physicians fascinated by sleep? Why are you fascinated by sleep? What are sleep disorders and why can they be so distressing and even deadly? What can we do to treat these disorders? This seminar series will attempt answer all these questions and to cover all these topics and unravel the mystery of sleep.


Professor Judith Malafronte

Shakespeare and Verdi

Classes will be on Mondays in New York 6:00 – 7:30 pm


An introduction to Giuseppe Verdi’s three Shakespearean operas, Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff, with examination of the source plays and their transformation into librettos.


We will consider conventions of dramaturgy and operatic style, the composer-librettist relationship, and the transformation of characters from one medium to another.


Professor Theodore "Ted" Marmor

America's Misunderstood Welfare State: Myth, Reality, and Social Insurance

Classes will be on Mondays in New York 7:40 – 9:10 pm


The course will take as its core material the arguments about the role of social insurance programs in American economic and political life. The primary text will be the book written by Marmor and two Yale colleagues entitled Social Insurance: America's Neglected Heritage and Contested Future. The classes will take up in turn three topics. The first will be the ideas of social insurance reflected in Medicare and Social Security pensions and disability in comparison to competing claims about what American government should do about preventing poverty, redistributing medical care, and selectively assisting those already in poverty. The second topic will address the social policy programs the country has, their performance and their costs both as public expenditure generally and as relevant to the concerns about long-run budget deficits. The third topic will be more evaluative, treating critiques of unemployment insurance, disability coverage, and especially the claims about 'modernizing' social insurance programs to make them more governable and hence affordable. The mode of the class will be discussion; the material for the class will be directed reading both in the course volume and from other points of view.


Professor Kieke Okma

America and the World: the World and America

Classes will be on Mondays in New York 7:40 – 9:10 pm


This series of seminars will address 6 themes:

  1. Why Did We Go to War?

The Reasons the United States engaged in foreign wars in the last 100 years, alone or with others.


  1. How Did the World Economy Change?

Major changes in economic and trade positions of the major world powers.


  1. How Did We Get From 1 Billion to 8 Billion?

World-wide Demographic Change in the last century.


  1. Epidemiological Transitions Across the World: Where are we now, how did we get there?


  1. Social Policy Orientations: Changing Welfare States in North America and Western Europe (and beyond).


  1. Changing Energy Use and Production in the world.


In New Haven

March 4 – April 8, 2014

Professor Traugott Lawler


Classes will be on Tuesdays in New Haven 3:00 – 4:30 pm


Joyce's Ulysses.  My experience is that Ulysses can be read well in six weeks if we omit the 150-page Circe episode (for which I will provide a summary).  We will start at 50 pages a class (episodes 1-3 for the first week, 4-6 for the second), then work up to 100 pages.  We will use the Hans Gabler edition (Vintage); everyone should also get and use The New Bloomsbury Book by Harry Blamires, a very useful chapter-by-chapter guide keyed to the Gabler edition.  Finally, you will make things a lot easier for yourself if you read Homer's Odyssey and Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man before the course starts.  You will find when you get into it that Ulysses is way less hard, and way more fun, than it is reputed to be.


Professor John Stuart Gordon

The Artistry and Meaning of American Silver

Classes will be on Tuesdays in New Haven 4:40 – 6:10 pm


Since the first colonial silversmiths started working in the seventeenth century, silver objects have played an important role in American society as currency, signals of religious belief, emblems of civic and cultural pride, and as displays of wealth. This course considers the progression of styles as well as the fabrication, meaning, function, and reception of silver from the early colonial period through the early years of the United States. It will focus on examples drawn from the Yale University Art Gallery’s famed Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, the preeminent collection of early American silver.


Professor Stephen Latham

Regulating Life: The Law of Bioethics from Before the Cradle to After the Grave

Classes will be on Wednesdays in New Haven 3:00 – 4:30 pm

March 5, 12, 26,  April 2, 9, 16, 2014


This course will look at the way American law responds to and shapes a number of profound and difficult issues in biomedical ethics. Topics we’ll consider will include genetic screening and trait-selection, assisted reproduction, abortion, organ recruitment and transplantation, research on human subjects, and end-of-life care including physician-assisted suicide. No legal background is required!


In Greenwich

Professor Judith Malafronte

Opera in Cinema

The lectures will be on Tuesdays in Greenwich 7:00 – 8:30 pm

March 4, 11, 25, April 1, 22, 29, 2014


An introduction to opera, focusing on the Metropolitan Opera Company’s “Live in HD” transmissions of Borodin’s Prince Igor (March 1), Massenet’s Werther (March 15), Puccini’s La Bohème (April 5), and Mozart’s Così fan tutte (April 26).


We will use these four operas as jumping off points in our examination of librettos and source material, as well as the social and musical conventions of opera. We will consider dramaturgy, casting requirements and the concept of vocal Fach, language, artistic collaboration, the rehearsal process, reception and criticism, along with the historical aspects of opera production.


Participants should plan to attend the Saturday afternoon broadcasts noted above, either in Sprague Hall on campus or at a local theater. There will be relevant readings from a wide variety of sources, as well as viewing and listening homework, available on YouTube.


Professor Ted Marmor and Dr John Hughes

“The Health Care Crisis: How it arose, and what is to be done”

The lectures will be on Wednesdays in Greenwich 7:00 – 8:30 pm

March 5 – April 9, 2014


Through a series of short presentations and interactive discussion, the course will examine how and why health care costs have been rising uncontrollably in all developed nations, but especially in the United States. We will examine the relative contributions to rising costs in the U.S., including the increasing use of technology, an aging population, misplaced economic incentives, and the lack of spending constraints compared to other developed nations.  We will review the structure and financing of the U.S. health care system, building toward an examination of the major options for containing health care costs, including markets, regulation, capitation-based payment, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and hospital- focused strategies.  The course will conclude with a review of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, giving consideration to how effective it will be in both expanding access and containing costs.