10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Courses
FAMOUS TRIALS THROUGH HISTORY: A JUDGE’S PERSPECTIVE
(Sessions 5 – 10) Starts April 11 Truth is an absolute. Truth-finding is difficult. Some trials do not end simply with their verdict. They have a power that echoes throughout history. They have shaped and transformed the social, political and legal landscape. These trials deserve the description “great” because they serve as enduring lessons for us all on such issues as social justice, race, abuse of power and injustice. We will examine six of the greatest trials that have occurred across the globe in a search for truth. In doing so, we will show how our legal system has dramatically evolved.
The True Story behind the Lincoln Assassination: Myth versus Reality
Washington, D.C. April 14, 1865. There are many myths about the murder of Abraham Lincoln, perhaps our greatest president. Although assassin John Wilkes Booth fired the gun that killed the president, there were many fingers on that trigger.
The Confederate Secret Service, a foreign bank account, multiple assassins and an orchestrated underground plot conspired to decapitate the Union government, a plan set in motion months before the evening of April 14, 1865. This fascinating story examines the truth versus the myth.
Booth acted alone and was mad. MYTH.
Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set Booth’s broken leg six hours after the assassination, was an innocent country doctor who acted merely in fulfilling his Hippocratic oath. MYTH.
Mary Surratt, a middle-aged innkeeper, was close to the heart of the conspiracy. TRUTH.
The Confederate government had nothing to do with the assassination. MYTH.
This compelling narrative, both detailed and riveting, has been determined by modern scholars.
The Trial of Galileo: When Worlds Collide
Rome, Italy 1633. Two worlds clash in cosmic conflict. Galileo Galilei’s world of science and humanism collides with the absolutist power and authority of the Catholic Church. Galileo’s trial for heresy marks both the end of his liberty and the Italian Renaissance.
The Trial of Lizzie Borden: Forty Whacks?
Fall River, Massachusetts 1892. One of America’s most notorious murder mysteries that has endured for more than 100 years, this trial continues to confound. Did she, or didn’t she? When her parents were brutally hacked to death, the arrest of the couple’s daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news. Her eventual acquittal did nothing to stop speculation about her guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or unjustly persecuted?
The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Trial: The Crime that Shocked the World
Flemington, New Jersey 1935. The trial of Richard Hauptmann, the accused kidnapper of the baby of aviator Charles Lindbergh, was called "the greatest story since the Resurrection." While that description is undoubtedly an exaggeration, measured by the public interest it generated, the Hauptmann trial is among the most famous trials of the 20th century. The trial featured America's greatest hero, a good mystery involving ransom notes and voices in dark cemeteries, a crime that is every parent's worst nightmare, and a German-born defendant who fought against U. S. forces in World War I.
Blood Feud: The Demoulas Supermarket Trials
Cambridge, Massachusetts 1990-2000. Bad family blood and lawsuits are a toxic mix. One of America’s oldest family businesses spent decades embroiled in the longest running, most expensive litigation ever in Massachusetts. The case was a legal odyssey, but what stunned lawyers across the nation was the losing defendants concocting a charade to induce the judge’s clerk to disclose the inner-workings of the judge’s chambers. The result: the judge’s resignation in disgrace (on other charges), and the disbarment of two attorneys.
The Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse: A Commentary on the American Judicial System
Kenosha, Wisconsin November 2021. This deeply divisive case ignited a national debate over vigilantism, violence, the definition of self-defense and the question of media ethics.
Teacher: The Honorable Dennis J. Curran, former MA Superior Court Trial Justice (Ret.), has presided over 450 civil and criminal trials. He currently teaches at Brown and Tufts Universities and the Roger Williams School of Law. He is a fellow of the MA Historical Society and member of the Board of Advisors of The Lincoln Forum.
LECTURERS ON DIVERSE TOPICS
Sessions 1 – 4. Starts March 14. WWLL is fortunate to have access to distinguished people who volunteer their time and expertise to give lectures on an eclectic array of subjects.
March 14 :
The Philosophy of Kindness by Audrey Ledbetter
It’s commonplace to talk about the power of kindness and that we should all strive to be kinder, but what does that look like? How do we know what it means to be kinder? This talk will take a philosophical approach to answer these questions, breaking down kindness to help us understand it so that we actually can be more kind.
Speaker: Audrey Ledbetter studies philosophy at Tufts and plans to graduate in 2023 with BA and MA degrees. She has researched moral theory and the intersection of feminist ethics and Chinese philosophy. This work led to critical thinking about the philosophy of kindness. She taught a course on the subject for the Tufts Experimental College and will give a talk on it in March on the TEDxTufts stage.
The Apollo Astronaut Experience by Andrew Chaikin
Only 24 humans have been to the moon. While researching his landmark book, A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts space historian Andrew Chaikin spent more than 150 hours interviewing 23 of the 24 Apollo lunar astronauts about every aspect of their incredible journeys. He will share some of the stories he heard during those conversations, about what they saw, thought, and felt during their historic explorations—including the elation and awe of setting foot on an ancient, alien wilderness, the demands of being lunar field geologists under the merciless pressure of the timeline, and the beauty of the Moon itself and the distant Earth suspended in a sky of utter blackness.
Speaker: Space historian Andrew Chaikin is best known as the author of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, which tells the stories of the Apollo missions through the eyes of the astronauts. The book was the main basis for Tom Hanks’ 12-part Emmy-winning miniseries for HBO, “From the Earth to the Moon.” A graduate in geology from Brown University, Chaikin has brought his knowledge of planetary science to his writing and teaching. As a visiting instructor at NASA he has taught the history of human and robotic space missions, as well as the human behavior aspects of success and failure in spaceflight projects.
Postage Stamps Depicting Medical Themes by Henry Lukas
Postage stamps, although small, can include much information about famous individuals, historic events, current topics and a wide range of other subjects. For example, over the years, thousands of stamps have been issued worldwide celebrating all aspects of the study of medicine. A number of these stamps and their connections to medicine will be presented. A highlight will be recent COVID-19-themed stamps and a discussion of how other devastating worldwide diseases have been depicted. Also included are stamps honoring famous doctors and nurses, those issued to raise funds for medical research, recognition of famous hospitals, and stamps from the United Nations that explain the work of the WHO.
Speaker: Henry Lukas is a retired social studies teacher and public school principal. He also has an extensive background in numerous education and community activities, including 17 years as the Educational Director at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History located on the Regis College campus in Weston, MA.
Clearing in the West: Navigating the Journey Through Loss, Grief and Healing by Susan Chase Edgecomb
The author shares what she has learned about loss and grief. It is not a "how-to" story but rather a highly personalized sharing of her path to become more resilient and constructive in her approach to life. In a 17-year period she sequentially lost a brother in Viet Nam, her father, and her husband to a heart attack, leaving her with a 3-year-old daughter. The traditional "don't mention it" approach to grief didn't work. She needed to find her own way. This is the story of how she did it and the understanding she gained.
Speaker: Susan Chase Edgecomb taught third grade in the Wellesley schools for 35 years. An essay she wrote about finding her brother's name on The Wall in D.C. was published in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine in November, 2018. This book is her first. It is available on Amazon.
POETRY FOR THE PEOPLE, PART XVII: POETS OF THE MIDDLE EAST
Sessions 4 – 10. Starts April 4. Poetry for the People XVII will present poems written by poets from the Middle East. Arabic poetry dates from the 6th Century and has remained a popular form of expression since then. Myriad cultural issues, time-honored customs as well as conflicts, are addressed in the poems that we will read. Class members are strongly encouraged to contribute to the discussions and share their views of these poems.
Teacher: Chuck Kamar received his bachelor’s from Boston State and his master’s from Boston University. He taught English at all secondary grade levels and spent the last 20 years of his career at Newton North High School. In 1998 he won the Paul E. Elicker Award for Excellence in Teaching
WOLLEN SIE DEUTSCH SPRECHEN?
An hour of conversation for students of German and for German speakers. Basic knowledge of the German language is necessary. We read stories, newspaper/magazine articles and poems. Participants write short essays, which we correct in class and use as a basis to review or teach grammar points. Talents represented in the group make for a lively class.
Teacher: Renate Olsen, B.A., M.A. New York State University at Albany, has taught English and German in high school. She had a Fulbright scholarship in Germany.