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.