Great teachers join us for ESI College, offering everything from one-hour lectures to six-week courses.

You can view the current season of ESI College classes here. [ You can also download and/or print out a PDF version. ]

Once you’ve selected a course, or courses, print and fill out the ESI College registration form (PDF) and send it to Elderly Services-ESI College, P.O. Box 581, Middlebury, VT 05753. The form has information on registration deadlines for each season of classes.

ESI College Summer 2019 / July and August

Finding Jesse: A Fugitive from Slavery

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Tuesday, July 9
Cost: $20

Description: “Finding Jesse: A Fugitive from Slavery in Vermont” traces Jesse’s life from enslavement in North Carolina to freedom in Vermont. The illustrated talk brings the narrative of one slave out of anonymity. It explores his life and pursuit of freedom, and most importantly, his effort to buy his freedom legally. The story is told through letters in the collection at the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh and documents at the North Carolina State Archives.



Instructor: Historian Jane Williamson has researched and written about abolition and the Underground Railroad; recently she has worked on uncovering the history of African Americans in the Champlain Valley and is now extending her research to other parts of the state. She holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Vermont and was the director of the Rokeby Museum for more than 20 years.
The 2020 Presidential Election: A First Look

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, July 11
Cost: $20

Description: With more than six months to go before the first party convention, more than 20 candidates have declared for the Democratic presidential nomination, and President Trump is already actively campaigning for re-election. What are the upcoming events, political forces, and issues that are likely to structure the campaign between summer 2019 and the primaries and caucuses in February and March 2020? What are some of the factors that will determine whether or not Donald Trump is re-elected?



Instructor: Eric Davis (B.A., Brown University; M.A., Ph.D. Stanford University) is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Middlebury College. From 1980 to 2008 he taught courses on American politics. Since retiring, he has continued to be a close observer of Vermont and national politics, writing a column for the Addison Independent and providing analysis for local and national media.
The Four Great Inventions of China

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursdays, July 18 & 25 (two sessions)
Cost: $40

Description: Included among the multitude of inventions the early Chinese have given the world are four that scholars regard as having surpassed all others in their consequential significance. These four most important of Chinese inventions are paper, printing, gunpowder and the mariner’s compass. In this course, we will consider the individual histories of these products of ingenuity and endeavor to assess their lasting influence on world civilization.

(This two-session course builds on Don Wyatt’s summer 2018 lecture, “Three Inventions of China that Changed the World.”)



Instructor: Don Wyatt has been a Middlebury College faculty member since 1986. He has served as a Vice President and Dean and is currently Director of the East Asian Studies Program. He has authored or co-authored several books on Chinese history.
The Song’s the Thing: How a Progression of Newly Arrived Americans Combined to Create Songs at Once Popular, Enduring and Now Classic

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, August 1
Cost: $20

Description: How did a confluence of extraordinary musical talent—Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rogers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe—combine in the middle decades of the last century to produce the most memorable and beloved popular songs in the history of music? Richard Hawley will discuss the artists and play some of the songs in this program on The Great American Song Book.



Instructor: Richard Hawley, Ph.D., is a lifelong teacher, writer and musician. For four decades he taught, coached and counseled boys at Cleveland’s University School, serving for 17 years as the school’s headmaster. He has published 30 books and dozens of articles, stories and poems. Also a lifelong piano player, Hawley has performed in jazz clubs and other venues across the country.
The Wrong War in the Wrong Place? How America Got Involved in Vietnam and What We Failed to Understand

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Tuesday, August 6
Cost: $20

Description: This lecture explores the historical background of Vietnamese nationalism and America’s idealistic but ultimately failed intervention in Vietnam’s civil war. Enhanced by many historical photographs, this presentation brings into focus an improbable combination of events within and outside Vietnam during the Cold War. It shows the changes in world affairs and in America’s domestic politics that led well-intentioned leaders, both civilian and military, into intractable political and military dilemmas.



Instructor: After earning his Ph.D. at Stanford, Professor Emeritus of Chinese John Berninghausen established Middlebury College’s Department of Chinese Language and Literature in 1976. An avid reader, he and his wife collect Chinese art and are world travelers.
Outlaw Women

Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Date: Thursday, August 15
Cost: $20

Description: This lecture will trace figures of outlaw women in transnational and postcolonial feminist literature, drawing on Marguerite Duras’s novella The Lover, Jamaica Kincaid’s novel Lucy, Audre Lorde’s biomythography Zami, and Azar Nafisi’s memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran. We will explore challenges and possibilities for feminist friendship and solidarity across differences in nation, race, class and sexuality.



Instructor: Catharine Wright is an eighth generation Vermonter who teaches Writing and Rhetoric and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Middlebury College. Her courses focus on writing and gender, with emphasis on narratives of resistance. She has published short fiction, poems and essays in many journals and is co-author/editor of two books, Vermonters at Their Craft (New England Press) and Social Justice Education (Stylus Press). She has earned Mellon grants for faculty collaboration across institutions.
Field Trip to Crown Point Fossil Beds

Time: 10 a.m.-noon
Date: Thursday, August 22
(rain date: August 29)
Cost: $30

Description: The exposed fossil beds at Crown Point, N.Y., State Historic Site are a perfect place to explore some of the geologic history of the Champlain Valley, specifically the Ordovician period in the Paleozoic Era. While many people visit the site to see the English and French forts, the site is also home to accessible fossil beds in pristine condition. Come walk the area with geologist Ray Coish and hear him tell the story left by the marine plant and animal fossils visible at your feet. Prepare to amble for about a mile on uneven ground, and to be on your feet for about an hour. An Elderly Services van will depart at 10 and return by 12. Class size limited to 12; priority given to those who attended Coish’s Geologic History of the Champlain Valley in Winter 2019.



Instructor: Ray Coish is Professor Emeritus in the Geology Department at Middlebury College.
Music as a Social Contract

Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Date: Wednesday, August 28
Cost: $20

Description: Through an interactive lecture demonstration, Dr. Damascus Kafumbe will discuss how music serves as a social contract that manages, structures, models and legitimizes sociopolitical relations in Uganda. Participants will develop a fresh appreciation for and understanding of African musical practice as a way of life through a wide range of activities, including musical performances, group discussions, film screenings, and reading.



Instructor: Damascus Kafumbe is an ethnomusicologist, recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, composer, and instrument technician. An Associate Professor of Music at Middlebury College, he teaches ethnomusicology and world music courses, directs the Middlebury African Music and Dance Ensemble, and maintains the College’s Ugandan musical instrument collection. He has published articles, reviews, interviews, recordings and a book manuscript.
ESI College Course List | Summer 2019 | July 9-August 28

A Fugitive from Slavery / Jane Williamson / Tuesday, July 9, 10-11:30 a.m.
The 2020 Presidential Election / Eric Davis / Thursday, July 11, 10-11:30 a.m.
Great Inventions of China / Don Wyatt / Thursdays, July 18 & 25, 10-11:30 a.m.
The Song’s the Thing / Richard Hawley / Thursday, August 1, 10-11:30 a.m.
America in Vietnam / John Berninghausen / Tuesday, August 6, 10-11:30 a.m.
Outlaw Women / Catherine Wright / Thursday, August 15, 1:30-3 p.m.
Crown Point Fossil Beds / Ray Coish / Thursday, August 22, 10 a.m.-noon.
Music in Uganda / Damascus Kafumbe / Wednesday, August 28, 10-11:30 a.m.