Brattleboro Lecture Series

Fall 2016 Lectures

Humanism and Progress: Education, the Arts, and the Global Crisis
Presented by Jerry Levy

The series of lectures-discussions will examine the impact of “humanistic communities” on the enduring problems of poverty, war, and ecological disaster. We will focus on the attempts of educational and  artistic communities to address those religious, cultural, class, gender, and political conflicts that appear to fuel the crises of our time.

Mondays, 10:00 a.m. to Noon

October 10
An Introduction: Biography and Research 
How did Jerry’s interest in the relationship between humanism and progress evolve? Definition of terms. The nature of humanism and the contours of the crisis. How shall we proceed?

October 17
The Enigma of Education
How do schools support and constrain the humanistic impulse? How does education impact the global crisis?

October 24
Humanism and the Arts
Where do the arts take us? How do artists affect the political, economic, and cultural issues they explore? How do the internal contradictions of artistic communities relate to their humanistic agendas?

October 31
Humanism and Religion 
What effect do secular religion and humanistic religion have on progress?

November 7
Humanism and Politics

How effective are humanistic communities in domestic and international politics? Is the humanistic dimension of politics adequate to the reality of the global crisis?

November 14
What Is To Be Done?
What changes might humanistic education, arts, religion, and politics consider in their attempts to address the crises of our time?

Jerry Levy taught sociology at Marlboro College from 1975 to 2014. He has been engaged in “participant observation research” on educational, artistic, religious, and political communities and their relationship to global trends for five decades. He is the author of two books on the larger implications of schools: Ghetto School—Class Warfare in an Elementary School (1970); and The Enigmatic Academy—Class, Bureaucracies, and Religion in American Education (2012, C. J. Churchill, co-author).


What Is Islamic Art?
Presented by Felicity Ratté 

The tradition of art and architecture of the Islamic world provides an entry point for non-Muslims to learn about Islamic culture and history. With this larger end in view, these lectures ask how non-Muslims can make sense of the historic art and architecture of Islam, and how this sense-making might help them to understand Muslims and Islam. We’ll start our discussion with an introduction to the history of Islamic art and architecture, focusing on some key monuments including the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the Suleymaniye in Istanbul, and the Alhambra in Grenada.

Mondays, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

October 10
Introduction to Islamic Art and Architecture:
Key historical events, documents and monuments from the time of the Righteous Caliphs (seventh century CE) to the present.

October 17
The Mosque and the Five Pillars of Islam: What does space tell us about practice?

October 24
Iconoclasm and Iconophobia I:
The role of figurative imagery in Islamic art before the modern era.

October 31
Iconoclasm and Iconophobia II:
The role of figurative imagery in Islamic culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

November 7
Exploitation, Appropriation, and Adaptation: Islamic art and the art of Europe and the United States from the Crusades to the twentieth century.

November 14
The Museum and Islamic Art:
Design, Display, and the Discourse of Culture in the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

Felicity Ratté is a member of the faculty of Marlboro College where she has taught the history of art and architecture since 1997. Since 2010 she has been studying Islamic art and architecture, and traveled to Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, before the Arab Spring. She holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.


Membership Information

Individual lectures are open to nonmembers for a fee of $6 per lecture. We encourage attendees to pre-register by mail so as to avoid delays at on-site check-in.

All lectures will take place at the Vermont Learning Collaborative, 471 Vermont Route 5, Dummerston. Light refreshments will be served at all lectures.

For general information on the Brattleboro OLLI chapter, please call Julie Lavorgna (802) 365-7278, or by e-mail:

For membership, complete the form on the site brochure and send with your $50/$80 full membership fee or $30/$50 partial membership fee (payable to “The University of Vermont”) to:

UVM OLLI Registration Office
460 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401

For information on cancellations and rescheduling, please listen to WTSA radio (96.7 FM); call (802) 257-8600 or toll-free (866) 889-0042; consult; or call the organizers at (802) 387-5387 or (802) 257-7623. For general information on the Brattleboro OLLI chapter, use the first two numbers above.


The Learning Collaborative is located just north of Brattleboro on Route 5 between Vermont Exits 3 and 4 of Interstate 91. We are 1.8 miles north of the rotary at Exit 3 (Brattleboro) and 4.1 miles south of Exit 4 (Putney). Look for a single-story brick building on the west side of the road. Parking and entry are at the back of the building. Handicapped-accessible parking, ramp, and door are available on the north side of the building.

For a complete listing of all programs, see our listing in a pdf format.

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