Spring 2024

Course offerings for the Spring 2023 term include selections in History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Writing.

Courses may take place in person, on Zoom, or in a hybrid format where participants can choose whether to participate in person or on Zoom for the same course. The location listings on this page will remain up-to-date.


Julius Caesar and Augustus Transform Rome: The Rise of the Empire

12 weeks, Tuesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

After Julius Caesar’s murder by Roman Republicans, his grand nephew Augustus faced and defeated the murders, continued Caesar’s reforms, modernized the existing sclerotic Republican structures, and set down the foundations of the great Roman Empire. We will look at Augustus’ struggles and new civic statutes, as well as the enlargement and solidification of the Roman Empire that Augustus and his famous descendants Tiberius, Claudius, Vespasian, and others established.

How did Augustus bring the Empire to the Romans? Where were the Republican leaders? What innovations did Augustus bring to the Roman government? Was his a major reform, or did he maintain some Republican institutions? How did his successors, the first emperors, carry out his reforms? How did the famously degenerate emperors, for example Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero, perform in this environment?


The Legacy of Mohamed Ali, The Founder of Modern Egypt

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:15 - 8:15 p.m.

After Napoleon’s brief invasion of Egypt (1798–1801), Egypt rose from its lethargy, energized by modernization plans orchestrated by Mohamed (Mehmet) Ali (1769–1849), an ethnic Albanian from Macedonia. He described himself as being “born the same year as Napoleon, in Alexander’s birthplace.” To accelerate this modernization, he and his descendants encouraged immigration to Egypt from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Greece, Italy, and the rest of Europe, thereby creating a new cosmopolitan society. An astute politician, he was able to wrest control of Egypt’s rule from the Ottomans, whom he helped militarily on occasion and whom he later invaded, occupying the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Southern Turkey). This expansion continued unabated until the British intervened, fearful of a rising Egypt replacing the declining Ottomans as the major power in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

How did this visionary take control of Egypt to found a dynasty that ruled for 150 years? How did he transform Egypt into a modern nation? Was this transformation a lasting one? What remains today of Mohamed Ali’s dream?


Jane Eyre and her Heirs

12 weeks, Mondays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë.

—Virginia Woolf on Jane Eyre

When Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, it caused a sensation in Victorian literary circles. The bold, passionate voice of its female narrator and incisive commentary on the most pressing social issues of its day made the novel an immediate commercial success and generated a variety of critical responses, from glowing praise to moral outrage. Since then, Jane Eyre has served as a key inspiration for many literary works, including Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic bestseller Rebecca, Jean Rhys’s postcolonial classic Wide Sargasso Sea, and Jeanette Winterson’s coming-of-age novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

This course will involve a close reading of Brontë’s novel alongside later works of fiction in dialogue with Jane Eyre. By examining these texts together, we will explore questions such as: how do reading these novels together enrich and complicate our understanding of Brontë’s novel? What is the relationship of these texts to the Gothic tradition and the genres of autobiography and the Bildungsroman?

The 49th Parallel: Indigeneity, Mystery, and Crime Stories

12 weeks, Tuesdays, 10:00 to 12:00 p.m.

While North America has been divided into Canada and the United States, many Indigenous peoples see that borderline as arbitrary. It is seen as a symbol of the systemic and social impositions made by settler governments. This course will highlight the voices of those living in this system, who can be Indigenous, American, and Canadian all at the same time, and whose identities are at odds with those imposed upon them by this arbitrary boundary.

We will ask: in what ways do Indigenous mystery stories shed light on current and real-life experiences? How can they help shape our understanding of Indigenous affairs and challenges? More importantly, can stories help us come to terms with our own histories and the way in which we interact with an all too often forgotten population? Is the impact of the mystery different dependent on the teller? How, for example, do mysteries by non-indigenous authors differ from those by Indigenous writers like Thomas King and Louise Erdrich?

Shakespeare in the Spring

6 weeks, Tuesdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
**Atwater or Online**

This six-session course will explore two Shakespeare plays, at least one of which will be performed at the 2024 Stratford Festival. A complete course description will be available once Stratford announces its theatre offerings for 2024.

The Spirit of the Sixties

12 weeks, Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The 1960s was a turbulent era of great social change as well as a revolution in consciousness. It was a time when the growth of a counter-culture and an anti-establishment phenomenon pervaded much of North American society. Through the Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation, Anti-Vietnam, and Free Speech movements, to the Sexual Revolution, the very foundations of society were challenged and its culture forever altered. The ’60s galvanized the youth of that time to question the precepts and values of North America and to offer a counter by positing a lifestyle and philosophy that was radical in its rejection of the norms. 

Throughout this course, we will ask questions like: What were the concerns and possible ideologies at the heart of each movement? What positive things came out of that decade in terms of social changes; values; and culture, particularly music? Were the changes that came about abiding or limited by having been born of  youthful idealism? Was the radicalness of the ’60s ultimately necessary to affect change? Is our current society better for what the youth movements of the ’60s sought to accomplish, or is a reflection on the spirit of the ’60s little more than nostalgia for the past?

​​Théâtre et néoclassicisme: Dramatic Theory and Practice in Seventeenth-Century France and England

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

What gives a play its power on stage? How might events in the wider world influence the theory and practice of playwriting or affect stagecraft? In seventeenth-century France and England, an existing debate over the adoption of a Neoclassical approach to playwriting took on momentum and urgency. 

Se fondant sur leur compréhension de la pratique et de la théorie dramatiques de la Grèce et de la Rome antiques, les théoriciens néoclassicistes ont présenté des règles globales touchant les éléments de l’œuvre théâtrale, depuis la trame et les thèmes abordés, jusqu’à l’invention de personnages et au style d’écriture, en affirmant que l’adhésion à ces règles assurerait la production d’œuvres mieux conçues et plus édifiantes moralement. En France et en Angleterre, des théories néoclassicistes furent proposées, contestées et nuancées sur fond de questionnement social et moral et d’agitation politique.

We will focus on questions such as: In what ways did sociopolitical pressures impact theorists, playwrights, and theatres? To what extent did Neoclassicism promote social and political conservatism? 


Descartes’ Search for Certainty

12 weeks, Wednesdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
**Atwater **

Descartes was a man of his time. Born in 1596, he lived in that turbulent time when the forces set in motion by the Renaissance were slowly giving birth to the Modern world. Throughout European culture there was a move to detach human affairs from the authority of the Church and recentre them in the secular world. Political theorists were actively working to base political authority in the notion of a “social contract” rather than “Divine Right”; even the Reformation was a movement to ground religion in the personal relation between God and the individual. Natural science and philosophy were no exception—both trying to establish their autonomy from the Church and ground their claims to knowledge on something other than Divine revelation and Church doctrine. Natural science chose direct observation as its ground, and many philosophers opted to follow its lead. Descartes, an eminent mathematician, wanted a foundation more certain and reliable than sense experience. In a series of six meditations Descartes applied his skeptical methodology to examine all candidates for an unshakeable foundation for knowledge and arrived at his famous cogito ergo sum.

In this course we will situate Descartes in his time, and then trace his journey through his Meditations on First Philosophy, as he attempts to reconstruct knowledge of the world on his unshakeable foundation. But is his foundation truly unshakeable?


Awakening to the Wildness Where We Live

12 weeks, Thursdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Wildness is not an all-or-nothing proposition. There are variations ranging from the sunflower pushing through a crack in a city alley, to the cultivated soils of a watershed cooperative to thousands of acres of multigenerational forest.

-Gavin Van Horn

What happens when we awaken to the wildness that surrounds us and recognize our place within it? We don’t usually think about an urban landscape as being as wild as those natural pristine places that we go to experience the wonders of nature. But, as William Cronon suggested, there are problems associated with imagining that this experience of wonder “is limited to remote landscapes or is somehow dependent on pristine landscapes we ourselves do not inhabit.” Idealizing only a distant, awe-inspiring wilderness too often means disconnecting from the wildness of the nature around us, the places where we live. By rethinking our ideas about wilderness, could we hope to reconnect to landscapes where we are very present, such as the urban landscape? Do we consider Gary Snyder’s invitation to practise the wild in the place where we live?

In this course we will explore what it means to practise the wild in the place where we live. How do we understand wilderness, wildness, wild, and our place as humans within these spaces?


“We call upon the author to explain”: a poetry workshop series

6 weeks, Tuesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Rampant discrimination
Mass poverty, third world debt
Infectious disease, global inequality
And deepening socio-economic divisions
Well, it does in your brain
We call upon the author to explain

-Nick Cave, We Call Upon the Author to Explain

Can we write poetry to make sense of the chaos of the world? How can we address, explore, explain the questions of the age?  Can we shape our writing to find coherence? Can we find communion with each other through expression?

Come prepared to write.


L’intelligence artificielle: qu’est-ce qui se prépare?

8 semaines, les mardis, 19h00 à 21h00

Où en est l’intelligence artificielle?

Quel impact aura la technologie ChatGPT dans le domaine de l’enseignement?

Comment évaluer l’équilibre à assurer entre l’intelligence artificielle et l’intervention humaine chez les professionnels de la médecine, de la traduction et du droit?

Comment est-il possible de contrer les dangers que représente l’hypertrucage (deepfake) pour la démocratie ou la vérité de l’information?

Quelles leçons pouvons-nous tirer des expériences d’implants insérés dans le cerveau et reliés à des ordinateurs (notamment par l’entreprise Neuralink)?

Quelles visions de la conscience humaine sont en jeu dans notre relation avec l’intelligence artificielle?


Looking at Art

4 weeks, Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

For many people, going to a museum and talking about the art they see can be a daunting experience. Have you ever looked at a work of art and wanted to understand it better, but felt ill-equipped to do so? The purpose of this short course is to get participants to feel more comfortable speaking about art by helping them interpret what they are looking at and explaining how their gaze is being directed by the artist. In the first three classes, participants will learn a few basics by looking at examples of art from the medieval through Renaissance periods. The last class will take place at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Here, in a guided exercise, participants will be asked to apply what they have learned to a work of art, and to present their observations to the rest of the group.

Put a Spring in Your Step with TMI

4 weeks, Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Join us for a four-week course that will take us on a walking tour of various Montreal neighbourhoods. We will take in the sights, sounds, and smells of several Southwestern boroughs as we meander through their streets. Come discover public art, historical sites, and tasty treats from popular local eateries. We will prepare for our walks by reading up on interesting facts and fiction about the following areas: Saint-Henri, Little Burgundy, Pointe-St-Charles and Verdun. For convenience, we will start and end our walks at a Metro station. The walks will run from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, rain or shine.

Questions? Stuck? Give us a call at (514) 935-9585
or email us at info@thomasmore.qc.ca