Course Descriptions for Fall 2019 and Winter 2020


  • You can download a printable version of the course descriptions listed below.
  • If LLIR cannot deliver a course as specified at registration, we offer you an alternative that is as similar as possible to the original course.
  • LLIR members can download additional course information. Week-by-week course outlines are posted before the start of term. During a term, lecture notes are posted when they are provided by the course directors.

Fall 2019: Mornings, September 13 – 15 November 15, 9:50 to 11:50 a.m.

A. Colonies and Colonialism: A History with Olivier Courteaux, PhD in Contemporary International Relations, University of Paris-Sorbonne.

This course looks at the various periods of colonialism that shaped the history of mankind, from Ancient Greece to 19th century Europe, together with the motivations, whether political, financial or religious that drove the establishment of colonies. Finally, the movement of decolonization that ran parallel to the first two decades of the Cold War is examined, along with the enduring impact of colonization on societies, an impact that is essential to our understanding of 20th century international relations.

B. Intersections between Science and Religion with Terry Picton, MD, PhD, FRSC: Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto.

We understand the world we live in by telling stories. Some of these become the foundations of religious belief; some are linked together into scientific theories. This course looks at the way religion and science approach the main questions of life: Where do we live? What is the universe? Whence do we come? Who are we? Why should we be good? Whither do we go? Meaningful answers to these questions are sought in the lessons of religious scriptures, and in the findings of scientific experiments.

C. Shakespeare on the Silver Screen with Philippa Sheppard, PhD in English Renaissance Drama, University of Oxford; lecturer University of Toronto.

This course offers a close look at eighteen major feature films that use Shakespeare’s scripts and were produced between 1989 and the present day. 1989 is chosen as the starting point as Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, a watershed for Shakespeare on screen, was released that year and was nominated for Best Film at the Academy Awards, prompting other directors to return to Shakespeare. The course opens with a brief history of Shakespearean films, and then considers the selected films in pairs by genre. With the support of stills and video clips, the course analyzes the wide variety of directors’ approaches to adapting these great dramatic works.

Fall 2019: Afternoons, September 13 – November 15, 12:50 to 2:50 p.m.

D. Words and Music: Leonard Cohen with Mike Daley, PhD; musicologist and musician; lecturer, York University.

Leonard Cohen is one of the great literary and musical figures in Canadian history. From his affecting and skillful early poetry and novels to his stunning and enduring music, Leonard Cohen’s work continues to fascinate. His keen observations and impassioned writing and composing still resonate today. In this ten-week course, Mike Daley tells the incredible life story of Leonard Cohen in detail, using the best available research. Mike selects some of Cohen’s best poetic, prose and lyric work for deeper discussion, but we won’t forget about his music.

E. White-Collar Crime: An Investigator’s Perspective with James Hunter, FCA, FCPA: forensic accountant; Financial Accountability course director, York University.

This course outlines the historical context of white-collar crime. It attempts to explain how otherwise upstanding citizens become criminals. We analyze different types of financial criminal activity: causes, detection and prevention. We look at the work of forensic investigators. The course also includes a survey of global corruption and money laundering.

F. The Stories Behind the Names with David Clandfield, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto and Tim Nau, former editor of Onomastica Canadiana, journal of the Canadian Society for the Study of Names.

Naming is a universal practice. We all have names. So do places we inhabit, products we buy, dishes we eat, plants and animals around us. Where do these names come from? Who chooses them? How do they vary over time, from culture to culture? Identification, promotion, symbolism, politics and religion, all are issues tackled in the fascinating and sometimes controversial exploration of onomastics, the study of names.

Winter 2020: Mornings, January 10 – March 13, 9:50 to 11:50 a.m.

G. Significant Canadian Criminal Cases with Alex Borman LLB, lecturer/moderator.

In this course we examine and analyze Canadian criminal proceedings that were shocking, precedent-setting or controversial. Verdicts and outcomes were sometimes reflective of societal prejudices, and in many cases injustices resulted. Cases discussed include Susan Nelles, Steven Truscott, Paul Morin, Henry Morgentaler, Paul Bernardo and others. We also profile and applaud the efforts of dissenters and advocates for justice. The outcome of the course is an appreciation of the complexities of the Canadian criminal justice system that may challenge our views on controversial legal issues.

H. Italian Food: Pane, Amore e Fantasia (Bread, Love, and Fantasy) with Franco Gallippi, PhD, University of Toronto, lecturer at McMaster University and Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto.

It is said that most people eat to live, while in Italy people live to eat. In this course, Franco Gallippi will give students a taste of Italy. The aim is to examine ingredients, regional differences, and the identity and history of a people that never cease to talk about food.

Winter 2020: Afternoons, January 10 – March 13, 12:50 to 2:50 p.m.

J. The Byzantine Empire with Eric McGeer, historian, author, teacher.

The Byzantine Empire came into being with the dedication of Constantinople as the New Rome in 330 and ended with the fall of the city to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During its eleven centuries, the Greek speaking, Orthodox Christian empire underwent many transformations. For much of its existence it was the dominant political force in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean and hence played a major role in the history of the Slavic peoples, the Islamic dynasties, the Crusades, and the eastern Christian world.  The course illuminates the history of a civilization rich in cultural and artistic achievement and one whose presence and influence are still visible in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

K. Espionage with Peter Vronsky, PhD (University of Toronto), investigative historian, author, lecturer.

Espionage has been called the “the second oldest profession” and is described in historical records as far back as the Bible. It is only with the rise of the modern industrial administrative state that permanent espionage bureaucracies like MI5/MI6 and the predecessors of the CIA and KGB, emerged in the early 20th Century.  Today secret agents and clandestine measures, assassinations and election meddling, are revealing the depth and scope of the hidden world of intelligence operations.  This series of lectures explores the myths and realities of the clandestine world of espionage, both international and domestic security-intelligence, with an emphasis on the rivalry between Russia, USA, Germany and Britain in the 20th Century and the War on Terror in the 21st.

L. Puzzles and Humanity: Enigma, Our Brains and The World with Stacy A. Costa. M.A., lecturer at University of Toronto & Enigmatologist.

This course examines the role of puzzles in our everyday lives. Are they just a catalyst of entertainment or do they provide more benefits for our brain and wellbeing? By providing a historical view of puzzles, we also explore each week a different genre of puzzles and understand how puzzles have become a challenge and have stood the test of time, across cultures. By the end of the course, you upgrade your problem-solving skills as well as gain knowledge and insight into the history, art and methodology of deciphering encrypted puzzles. And, you exercise your brain with many fun challenges along the way.