We are so pleased to be offering the following classes for the May/June Term of ESI College Online, serving those age 60 and older. Registration is open; classes begin May 5.


We are using a new online registration system this term, provided on a secure website run by “Wufoo.” Fingers crossed, it will make registration easier for everyone. This site provides automated email confirmations of the courses you’ve signed up for and the option for paying online. Here’s what will be different: 

  1. Each person in your household must register separately. If you share the same email address, please fill out separate registrations. Classes cost $10 per session per person.
  2. The total cost for your classes will be listed when you complete your registration. Please note that some courses may require you purchase books, which will be available at the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price. We will be in touch with you about that.
  3. You have two payment options. You can choose to pay by check (please send within a week of registration). Or, you can choose online payment during registration, using debit/credit card via PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account to use this.
  4. After you submit your form you will receive an automated email confirmation from “Elderly Services-ESI College <no-reply@wufoo.com>.”
  5. Some classes have limited enrollment; others have readings. Please sign up at least 48 hours in advance so we can be in touch with you about the class.

We hope this makes it easier for you to sign up for the classes. We anticipate there will be some fixes we need to make. We are still here to help! If you experience a problem or have a question, please call (802.388.3983) or email with questions.

To register for classes, click here: https://elderlyservices.wufoo.com/forms/esi-college-registration-mayjune-2021/ 

May-June Course Offerings


To participate you’ll need a device (computer, tablet, iPad, Chromebook, or smartphone) with Zoom set up on it. A device with a webcam is preferable so that people can see you. We send a Zoom link for each session the morning of each class.

Technical Support

We have technical support for every class session. Don’t let technology be a barrier. If you need help, we will do our best to help you remotely.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Kind regards, 

Kristin Bolton
Dana Perzanoski
Jeff Rehbach
Anya Schwartz
Geetha Wunnava
for ESI College Online 

ESI College Online Classes / May-June 2021 

Book Group: The Magic Mountain
Instructor: Paul Christensen
Dates: Wednesdays, May 5, 12 & 19
Time: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Cost: $30 (book not included)

Description: Thomas Mann labored intensely over The Magic Mountain, sensing it was his masterpiece. It explores the many facets of time itself, and the meaning of death against the backdrop of eternity, as viewed in the snow-capped Swiss alps and the strange, even eerie placidity of a sanitorium for tubercular patients. His touch is delicate, his eagerness to shred his subject for any hint of how to understand the dilemma of being mortal with an imagination hungry for escape to some transcendent form of existence. Copies of the book will be available through the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price.

Instructor: Paul Christensen taught contemporary literature at Texas A&M University and coordinated its creative writing program. His short stories have appeared in national journals and reviews, and he is the author of two memoirs and studies of the American poets Charles Olson and Clayton Eshleman.

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The Future of Vermont
Instructor: Bill Schubart
Dates: Thursdays, May 6 & 13 
Time: 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Cost: $20

Description: The Vermont Council on Rural Development is working hard to define and develop an inclusive vision of the future of Vermont. In this class, we’ll discuss current initiatives being explored, and identify the five most important initiatives—and share those with our leaders and legislators. Join the discussion and be part of developing the future of our state!

Instructor: Bill Schubart has served as board chair at Vermont Public Radio, UVM Medical Center, Vermont Digger and Business Roundtable. Educated at Exeter, Kenyon and UVM, he co-founded Philo Records and Resolution Inc. Bill currently chairs the Vermont College of Fine Arts and has written five books of fiction.

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‘Some Things You Can’t Learn from Books’: Exploring Biocultural Heritage in Bhutan
Instructor: Betsy Bolton
Date: Thursday, May 6
Time: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Cost: $10

Description: This course will look at connections between the traditional arts of Bhutan and the country’s environmental record of maintaining biodiversity and committing to maintaining at least 60% forest cover in perpetuity, as well as sequestering more carbon than it produces. Betsy will share some short documentaries on traditional arts such as religious painting, mask carving, sculpture, and tailoring—documentaries filmed at a school for traditional arts in the remote eastern part of the country, near one of its largest wildlife reserves. While scholars have cast doubts on the authenticity of “green Tibetan Buddhism,” seeing little relationship between Vajrayana Buddhist scriptures and environmental conservation efforts, this brief course traces connections between traditional Vajrayana arts and social practices that support biodiversity.

Instructor: Betsy Bolton is a Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Swarthmore College. She has taught courses on Romantic literature, food novels, the short story, poetry and fiction workshops, and workshops that connect creative writing with environmental topics. For more information, see https://betsydotgallery.wordpress.com/

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The Enigmatic Life of Frank Sinatra
Instructor: Robert Wyatt
Date: Tuesday, May 11
Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Cost: $10 

Course Description: Sinatra’s career took flight from the Rustic Cabin to Hollywood. Robert Wyatt will guide you through a life resplendent with meteoric shifts of popularity and despondency. Sway with some of the songs that Sinatra immortalized—“Strangers in the Night,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Three Coins in a Fountain,” “New York, New York”—and marvel at a man who could glide seamlessly between intimate relationships with gangsters, U. S. Presidents, prize fighters and film sirens. 

Instructor: Robert Wyatt is a Steinway Artist who has performed throughout the United States and internationally, gathering critical acclaim for sensitive and colorful solo and chamber music recitals. He delights audiences with a rare blend of pianistic savvy and engaging storytelling that makes each performance a creative event.

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Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: ‘How Shall We Find the Concord of this Discord?’
Instructor: Doug Richards
Dates: Tuesdays, May 18 & 25
Time: 10:30-11:45 a.m.      
Cost: $20 (book not included)

Course Description: Shakespeare’s comedy of delight and disorientation explores perennial questions about the experience of love, imagination, gender, and the intractable ‘strangeness’ of our lives. The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters—Bottom the Weaver, the enthusiastic actor, who wants to play all the parts; Titania, the Fairy Queen, who speaks the most evocative poetry in the play; Helena, the “outsider” among the young lovers; and Puck, the chief manager of mischief. In two sessions, we will explore together the play’s poetry, characters, staging possibilities, and the questions it raises for us in our own time of estrangement—on the cusp of a promising if uncertain summer. Copies of the book will be available through the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price.

Instructor: Doug Richards (B.A. Hamilton, Ph.D University of Rochester) has taught Shakespeare in diverse settings over 40 years, primarily at Keuka College, but also to youth and adults. Other teaching/interests include early British, children’s, and environmental literature, poetry, natural history, and higher education.

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Health Care Ethics During a Pandemic
Instructor: James Calvin Davis
Dates: Thursdays, May 20 & 27
Time: 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Cost: $20

Course Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a number of ethical issues that the American public has barely addressed in any responsible way. To what extent are restrictions on personal liberties justified to combat this disease? Should normal research trial processes have been accelerated to make the vaccine available much sooner? Who should have been the first wave to be vaccinated—the elderly, first responders, incarcerated persons, or college students? In this course, after quickly telling the story of modern medical ethics, we will identify foundational ethical norms that emerged from that history and are now widely accepted in the field of health care. Then we will discuss aspects of the pandemic that invoke, stretch, or test these values. Issues we discuss may include mask mandates, restrictions on gatherings, vaccine research trials, medical resource distribution priorities, and our expectations of first responders.

Instructor: James Calvin Davis teaches ethics and Christian Studies as the George Adams Ellis Professor of Liberal Arts at Middlebury College. His specialty is the role of religion (especially Christianity) in American history and contemporary public life. He is the author of five books, the most recent one being American Liturgy: Finding Theological Meaning in the Holy Days of US Culture (Cascade 2021).

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Genders and Sexualities
Instructor: Chong-suk Han
Dates: Wednesdays, May 26, June 2 & June 9
Time: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Cost: $30

Description: In this course, we will examine how genders and sexualities are socially constructed and “performed.” That is, rather than biological, natural, or innate, this course will examine ways that society constructs both gender and sexuality and how we “perform” our social roles. The course will shed light on current political and legal battles related to genders and sexualities as well as the role of gender and sexuality within the complexities of personal relationships.

Instructor: Chong-suk Han is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Middlebury College; he received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Washington. His areas of expertise are race and sexuality. Before becoming an academic, Dr. Han was an award-winning journalist and he served for three years as the editor-in-chief of the International Examiner.

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Film Discussion: Win Win
Instructor: Frankie Dunleavy
Date: Tuesday, June 1
Time: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Cost: $10

Course Description: In Win Win, writer and director Tom McCarthy again explores the depths and nuances of human relationships when strangers are thrown together by fate in this drama lightened with many comic moments. A small town lawyer and wrestling coach who isn’t quite making it figures out a dishonest way to make ends meetbut plot twists make us reassess our shifting judgments of his character and choices throughout the movie. During the class we will discuss the many questions that the film raises. We highly recommend two viewings if possible; it’s available on many streaming platforms.

Instructor: Frankie Dunleavy graduated from the University of London, where she majored in French and minored in English. In addition to those subjects, she has also taught Latin, Spanish and German in England, France, Germany and, most recently, Middlebury, Vt.

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Writing Endpapers
Instructor: Alexander Wolff
Date: Tuesday, June 8
Time: 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Cost: $10 (book not included)

Course Description: Author Alexander Wolff describes how he researched and wrote Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home, a memoir about his book publisher grandfather, who fled the Nazis, and his father, who was left behind in Germany to fight for them. The class should be of interest to those who have read the book or are curious about discovering their own family history. Signed copies of the book will be available through the Vermont Book Shop at a 20% discount. 

Instructor: Alexander Wolff spent 36 years as a writer on staff at Sports Illustrated. He is author or co-author of nine books, including the New York Times bestseller Raw Recruits and Big Game, Small World, which was named a New York Times Notable Book. A former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton, he lives in Cornwall.

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Book Group: Exploring Enslavement in 21st Century Fiction
Instructor: Will Nash
Dates: Thursdays, June 10, 17 and 24 
Time: 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Cost: $30 (books not included)

Course Description: In this course we will examine 21st century American portrayals of chattel slavery through creative works and situate them in their historical contexts. Working primarily with three award winning books from the last decade: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer, we will evaluate how those various representations of the “Peculiar Institution” have changed, and/or have been changed, by the cultural moments in which they appeared. Copies of the books will be available through the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price.

Instructor: William R. Nash is Professor of American Studies and English and American Literatures. He is the author of Charles Johnson’s Fiction and co-editor of Charles Johnson: The Novelist as Philosopher. His current research focuses on contemporary representations of American chattel slavery, with a special emphasis on the Underground Railroad.

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Aging Gracefully Group*: You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt
Instructor: Elise Blair
Dates: Wednesdays, June 16, 23 & 30
Time: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Cost: $30 (book not included)

Description: Eleanor Roosevelt wrote You Learn By Living near the end of her life; in it she shares the eleven most important principles that she’s learned and which guided her life. We will discuss her “keys” and the experiences that influenced them, and compare them with our own. Enjoy aging with a new perspective. Copies of the book will be available through the Vermont Book Shop at a discounted price. (* formerly called “Perennials” Group.)

Instructor: Elise Blair trained and worked in the Netherlands as an industrial social worker. She became a psychoanalyst in Washington, D.C., and had a private practice for 30 years. She played a large role in the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis as a teacher, board member and president. She is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

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The Brothers Gershwin
Instructor: Robert Wyatt
Date: Tuesday, June 22 
Time: 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Cost: $10

Course Description: Ira was known as “The Jeweler,” a songsmith whose exquisite craftsmanship allowed him to embed a seamless mosaic of words within the contour of a melodic line. And when his brother George sat at the piano, an endless assortment of tunes came “dripping from his fingers.” From their first hit tune in 1918, “The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag),” along with immortal blockbusters like “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You” and “The Man I Love,” to the heart-wrenching “Love Is Here to Stay,” a song left unfinished by George’s death in July 1937, the brother’s legacy of over two dozen scores for Broadway and Hollywood helped establish musical comedy as an American art form. Their relationship was unique among songwriting teams. As siblings, best friends and business associates, they chose to live together for their entire lives, whether in the same home, in adjoining apartments or directly across the street; only a moment was needed to join their collective genius. This unique energy generated by mutual love and respect but also by a disparate set of talents, sparked a distinctive style of music which propelled a generation of listeners through the “Jazz Age” while later soothing them during the Great Depression. 

Instructor: Robert Wyatt is a Steinway Artist who has performed throughout the United States and internationally, gathering critical acclaim for sensitive and colorful solo and chamber music recitals. He delights audiences with a rare blend of pianistic savvy and engaging storytelling that makes each performance a creative event.

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