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OPEN UNIVERSITY OF WELLFLEET

Open University of Wellfleet is  a forum for learning more about Wellfleet's cultural history.  Conceived by retired Brown University professor Rhoda Flaxman, the Open University began in April 2013.  All courses have a Wellfleet or Outer Cape connection, with an emphasis on our local history and culture.

These courses are envisioned as directed discussions, otherwise known as collaborative learning. Readings will be assigned, and instructors will offer mini-lectures to spur focused interchanges and facilitate learning. The Spring 2014 classes will be held once a week for two hours from April 1st through May 8 at Wellfleet Preservation Hall, Wellfleet Library, or W.H.A.T. Course descriptions including dates, time and location are below. Registrations opens on March 1st and is available via web or phone (508)349-1800. Courses will run with a minimum of ten and a maximum of seventeen participants. Tuition is $60.00 per course.

 

SPRING COURSE OFFERINGS - April 1st - May 8th

 

“Cape Cod Artists’ Views of Land and Sea” with Deborah Forman

REGISTER HERE

Six Wednesdays from 2pm-4pm at Wellfleet Preservation Hall

April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7

Cape Cod has been attracting artists to this grand land and its spectacular seas for more than a century. Many artists have created work that interprets their experiences of this place. The course will cover the 50 artists Deborah Forman included in her book, Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: Images of Land and Sea (Schiffer Publishing, 2013). Their range of work, from traditional to more edgy creations, displays a rich diversity of styles inspired by the Cape’s legendary beauty. The course will include presentations by several of the artists included in the book.

Deborah graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a degree in journalism, and also studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. She was the features editor of the Cape Cod Times and editor in chief of Cape Cod VIEW magazine before she began writing Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony (Schiffer Publishing 2011), a history of the art colony, based on interviews with dozens of artists and writers. She wrote the script and helped film Art In Its Soul, an award-winning documentary of the history of the Provincetown art colony, which was aired on public television stations nationwide.


"Stories of Home on Cape Cod: A Literary Exploration’" with Rhoda Flaxman

 REGISTER HERE

Six Thursdays from 3pm-5pm at the Wellfleet Library

April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1 and 8

How does establishing a home on Cape Cod differ from building a life anywhere else? This session of the literature of Cape Cod will explore one classic text (Henry Beston’s The Outermost House), one set of linked stories that depict two hundred years of a house on the Outer Cape (Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House) and one memoir (George Howe Colt’s The Big House). About each of these works we will ask how writers depict the joys and challenges of creating a home on Cape Cod, and whether being at home on this great edge of the world is different from being at home anywhere else.

Professor Flaxman retired (2007) from teaching Victorian literature and art history, and directing Brown University ’s writing-across-the curriculum program at Brown University for twenty years. Since then she has established an educational consulting firm (WriteConsulting) , and teaches community seminars in literature in Providence and Wellfleet.


“The Complete History of Wellfleet” with Jeff Tash

 REGISTER HERE

Six Tuesdays from 6pm-8pm at Welfleet Preservation Hall

April 1, 8,15, 22, 29 and May 6

Despite its tiny size the little coastal community of Wellfleet, a town that literally sits on the edge of the continent, possesses an incredibly rich and comprehensive history.  This Open University of Wellfleet course, which is being offered for the third time this semester, has received rave reviews from previous attendees.  The class consists of five (5) two-hour lectures where each week a different century is examined starting in the 1600s. Each presentation is comprised of pictures, videos, audio recordings and, most importantly, storytelling.  Come hear the Wellfleet story and learn about its amazing past.

Jeff Tash has owned a home in Wellfleet for the past quarter century.  Recently retired, Jeff was previously an entrepreneurial CEO and before that a corporate executive at Hewitt, DEC and IBM.  In retirement Jeff has channeled his passions for Wellfleet and computing into a popular website called WELLFLEETian.com.  In addition, he serves on multiple boards including the Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet Historical Society, Wellfleet Community Forum, and Nauset Newcomers.


“A view from inside the summer plays at WHAT” with Jeffry George

REGISTER HERE

 Six Wednesdays from 4:30pm-6:30pm at WHAT  (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater)

 April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7

A parrot, a cabaret singer, a singing quartet and two couples needing an adjustment.  An orphaned parrot raised by humans becomes an international fashion icon. As an American living in Berlin, Sally Bowles discovers her strength in war torn Germany. After 30 years of singing together, a quartet of middle-aged men get their big break and are on their way to Nationals. Do two couples on Christmas Eve truly just need a period of adjustment to find their individual comfort zones? In this 30th anniversary of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater we take a look at life from very different angles by analyzing the scripts in advance. Come and get a view from inside the scripts at WHAT’s summer productions. Each course participant will receive two tickets to the Friday preview performance of each production this summer.

Jeffry George  is currently the Executive Director of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.  He has more than twenty-five years of production and administrative management experience in numerous well-respected AEA theatres throughout the US.  Jeffry was the primary individual responsible for overseeing the construction of the Julie Harris Stage, a state-of-the-art, 200 seat theater.  

 

Coastal Ecology of the Outer Cape with Gordon Peabody (Safe Harbor)

REGISTER HERE

Six Wednesdays from 5:30pm-7pm at Wellfleet Preservation Hall

April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7

Explore the unique habitats, plants and animals along the coastline of the Outer Cape. Learn how our coastal resource systems are linked together, and look at how the Outer Cape's landform is undergoing changes from wind, waves and tide. Guest speakers and possible field trip.

Gordon Peabody has been involved in environmental education for 20 years on the Outer Cape. He is presently the Director of Safe Harbor Environmental Services in Wellfleet. A certified coastal invasive vegetation manager, Peabody has chaired a Conservation Commission on Cape Cod and the Herring River Technical Committee. He also has been a member of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions Technical Advisory Committee, and has assisted with emergency certification and response plans for coastal communities following winter storms.

 

For more information contact Dr. Rhoda Flaxman, Director

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PAST COURSE OFFERINGS:

 

“Narrowland and Sea” with  Barbara Brennessel 

Building upon the inspiration of some of our greatest nature writers, we will explore the relationship between the lower Cape and the waters that surround it. We will take a virtual trip, beginning with the ancient glaciers that formed our Narrowland and ending in modern times, where the global repercussions of anthropogenic activities are causing changes at the local level. Some of the topics for discussion will be climate change, ocean acidification, the “balance of nature,” the loss of biodiversity, fisheries in crisis, and the future of shellfish and shellfishing. There will be opportunities for field trips that highlight some of the concepts discussed in the course.

Barbara Brennessel, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita from Wheaton College where she taught in the Biology Department for 33 years.  Although trained as a biochemist, she had increasingly become involved in environmental and ecological research on the Outer Cape.  She had authored three books about iconic Wellfleet critters who are in jeopardy: Diamonds in the Marsh: The Natural History of the Diamondback terrapin; Farming on the Flats: The History and Ecology of Shellfish Farming in the Northeast; The Alewives' Tale (the story of River Herring; in Press).

 

“ Cape Cod Artists’ Views of Land and Sea” with  Deborah Forman

Cape Cod has been attracting artists to this grand land and its spectacular seas for more than a century. Many artists have created work that interprets their experiences of this place. The course will cover the 50 artists Deborah Forman included in her book, Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: Images of Land and Sea (Schiffer Publishing, 2013). Their range of work, from traditional to more edgy creations, displays a rich diversity of styles inspired by the Cape’s legendary beauty. The course will include presentations by several of the artists included in the book.

Deborah graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a degree in journalism, and also studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. She was the features editor of the Cape Cod Times and editor in chief of Cape Cod VIEW magazine before she began writing Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony (Schiffer Publishing 2011), a history of the art colony, based on interviews with dozens of artists and writers. She wrote the script and helped film Art In Its Soul, an award-winning documentary of the history of the Provincetown art colony, which was aired on public television stations nationwide.


Wellfleet's History is America's History ”with  Jeff Tash 

 The story about Wellfleet is filled with drama.  But reading history books can often be dry and laborious.  This course strives to make our town's history compelling and fun through a collection of stories, images and other media that describe our colorful past including the many ebbs and flows of our economic development as well as the rich assortment of influential characters who over the centuries called Wellfleet their home.

Jeff Tash has owned a home in Wellfleet for the past quarter century.  Recently retired, Jeff was previously an entrepreneurial CEO and before that a corporate executive at Hewitt, DEC and IBM.  In retirement Jeff has channeled his passions for Wellfleet and computing into a popular website called WELLFLEETian.com.  In addition, he serves on multiple boards including the Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet Historical Society, Wellfleet Community Forum, and Nauset Newcomers.


Theater on Cape Cod”with Jeff Zinn

We know there is a vibrant tradition of “Theater on Cape Cod,” and has been for generations. But what exactly do we mean when we say that? When we look at, say, the early Provincetown Playhouse dominated by Eugene O’Neill, or The Cape Playhouse in the heyday of the Straw-Hat Circuit, or the several incarnations of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, or the community theaters that sprout and thrive like mushrooms, we see that “Theater on Cape Cod” can mean many things.  In this class/seminar we will answer the question by reading – or watching – a selection of plays chosen from the aforementioned theaters’ catalogs. We want to know what theater means to you, why you go, and what you look for in the experience.  Bring your opinions!

Jeff Zinn is best known as the longtime artistic director of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) on Cape Cod. Under his leadership WHAT grew to become a nationally recognized professional theater presenting provocative new American plays for a diverse and appreciative regional audience.As an actor he made his Equity debut as “Danny” in the original off-Broadway production of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity In Chicago starring F. Murray Abraham, and appeared on Broadway in The Suicide starring Derek Jacobi. As a director he developed new plays at Ensemble Studio Theatre, The White Barn Theatre, The West Bank Cafe, Theater for the New City, as a member of the Circle Repertory Company Lab, the Berkshire Playwrights Lab and Boston Playwrights Theatre. He currently holds the post of Visiting Academic Professional of Drama/Theatre at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is also Adjunct Professor of Theater Studies at Clark University.He lives in Orleans with his wife, Crystal, and their children, Georgia and Noah.

 

Thinking About Wellfleet, The Romance and the Reality” with Brent Harold   

Wellfleet has long thrived on the romancing of it by residents and part-time visitors alike. Of what does this romance consist? And what are the contradictions and issues that lie beneath its surface? How we think about our town is crucial to the role we play in its ongoing history. We will consider such key concepts as “place” and “change” and such revolutions in our history as the advent of tourism, the National Seashore controversy, the washashore invasion, the second home market; as well as recent struggles over franchises, public water and sewerage, regionalization, theater.

Brent Harold, a former English professor, has written about Wellfleet themes and issues for 20 years in his op-ed column in the Cape Cod Times. He is author of three Wellfleet- related books: Wellfleet and the World: Themes of a Cherished and Threatened Place; Strange Interlude of the Tree in the House: An Outer Cape Off-season Companion; and Life as a House.


 “Outer Cape Lit,” with Rhoda Flaxman 

Our Outer Cape landscape has been the inspiration for many excellent writers from our earliest history to the present. For our first exploration of this theme, we’ll read contemporary writers who both live on and write about the Outer Cape. Sampling works in four genres, we will read and discuss: Annie Dillard’s novel, “The Maytrees;” Sinan Unel’s screenplay, “Race Point;” poetry by Mary Oliver and Marge Piercy; and selected essays by Robert Finch and others.

Professor Flaxman retired (2007) from teaching Victorian literature and art history, and directing Brown University ’s writing-across-the curriculum program at Brown University for twenty years. Since then she has established an educational consulting firm (WriteConsulting) , and teaches community seminars in literature in Providence and Wellfleet.


”Governing, Cape Cod Style,” with Seth Rolbein  

If all politics is local, as House Speaker –and sometime Harwich resident—Thomas P. O’Neill famously said, then an appreciation of the strengths and success of local politics is key to understanding why the national version too often veers into dysfunction. This course will reach back to the Mayflower Compact, signed off our shores in 1620, to see if it is indeed the nation’s seminal document outlining our relationship with our government or not. From the egalitarianism and foibles of open town meeting, to the rationale of a recent change in the structure of Cape Cod Boards of Selectmen, ending with the question of why our towns are ‘strong’ but our county ‘weak,’ we’ll examine how structure can either inhibit or propel progress. Special guests will be invited.

Seth Rolbein is former editor of The Cape Codder, Founding Editor and Publisher of The Cape Cod Voice, and presently Senior Adviser to Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf.

 

”Creating a Wellfleet Historical ‘Map App,’ “ Jeff Tash  

Wellfleet's history is America's history.  Pilgrims visited our shores even before they settled Plymouth.  This Open University course is a "lab" where students will conduct "history research" culminating in a Wellfleet Historical Society web app built using Google map technology.  Students will pinpoint places of historical interest along with corresponding images and write-ups accessible via mouse clicks or pointing gestures on laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Jeff Tash was CEO and president of both computer software and information technology consultancy firms. He received industry recognition as an IT visionary and technology leader who consulted to scores of clients around the world. In retirement Jeff has channeled his passions for Wellfleet and computing into a popular website called WELLFLEETian.com.

 

“Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony,” Deborah Forman

Join Deborah Forman on a journey through the history of the Provincetown art colony, which can be viewed as a microcosm of 20th-century American art. The course will open with the launching of the colony when Charles Hawthorne opened his school in 1899.

It will look at the early conflicts between the traditionalists and modernists, the impact of the Hans Hofmann School, and the golden years of the late ‘40s,‘50s, and ‘60s when the Abstract Expressionists were in town and New York galleries had satellite locations in Provincetown. When the art colony began to languish in the late ‘60s, the effort to revitalize it with the founding of the Fine Arts Work Center and the impact of Long Point Gallery will attest to the determination to maintain the town’s cultural integrity.

Deborah graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a degree in journalism, and also studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. She was the features editor of the Cape Cod Times and editor in chief of Cape Cod VIEW magazine before she began writing Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony (Schiffer Publishing 2011), a history of the art colony, based on interviews with dozens of artists and writers. She wrote the script and helped film Art In Its Soul, an award-winning documentary of the history of the Provincetown art colony, which was aired on public television stations nationwide and will be shown as introduction to the course .



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