Meeman Center for Lifelong Learning

Since its inception in 1944, the Meeman Center for Lifelong Learning has fulfilled Rhodes’ commitment to learning as a lifelong process by engaging adults from the Mid-South and beyond in liberal education. Meeman Center promotes personal and professional development to individuals and businesses through programs, courses and trips distinguished by their academic excellence.

Topics include literature, art, languages, science, current events, history, religion, philosophy and other areas. Courses—led by Rhodes faculty and invited experts, including Rhodes alumni—vary in length and run September through November and January through May.

• Register for Spring 2018 Meeman courses

• View Meeman Spring 2018 course list

• Download the Meeman Spring 2018 course catalog

Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) may be earned through any Meeman non-credit course.



"Class was fantastic. I would never have thought about or had access to the galleries Hamlett took us. Well done."

"The selected readings were excellent, and transitioned nicely one to the next. The class was filled with delightful, insightful participants. The entire experience was a wonderful, extraordinary gift."

"Having recently retired, I wanted to expand my knowledge in subjects not work-related; Meeman’s Life-Long Learning programs offer the opportunity to study philosophy, ethics, history, literature and other liberal arts. Just as important, the professors, the staff and my fellow participants are accomplished, smart and friendly people. I plan to enroll in the Meeman’s offerings for a long, long time to come as they are all first-class." -- Ken Blackburn

"The most satisfying two hours of meaty discussion in Memphis! Dan knows how to stimulate the best discussions exploring all aspects of a topic fearlessly. The questions discussed are the ′big questions′ I wish our communities/nation would think about more!"

"This was the first course I have taken at Meeman Center and I found the instructor exceptional and class members insightful."


Meeman Life-Long Learning Center — Spring 2018 Classes

• Register for Spring 2018 Meeman courses


Basic Economics for the Global Citizen
Dr. Nikolaos Zahariadis

This course examines the fundamentals of the modern economy and their relationship to democratic governance. We will explore the logic of inflation, fiscal policy and monetary policy, the public debt, corporate governance, international trade and international monetary relations. Particular emphasis will be given to the acrimonious relationship between an open economy and democracy in light of increasing globalization.

Text: The Instant Economist: Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works, Timothy Taylor Plume
ISBN: 978-0452297524
Nikolaos Zahariadis, PhD University of Georgia, Professor of International Studies
Three Thursdays: February 8, 15, and 22
5:30-7:30 pm
Tuition: $105; .6 CEU


Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt
Dr. Ariel Lopez

The Ancient Egyptians believed that death could be “healed.” This course will explore the sophisticated architectural, medical, and religious technologies that they developed to achieve this goal. We will study the great tombs and their decorations, the pyramids and mummification. We will read mortuary literature (books of the dead) and the oldest autobiographies in world history.

Text: Readings will be provided as PDFs.
Ariel Lopez, PhD Princeton University, Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Studies
Three Thursdays: March 1, 15, and 22
5:30-7:30 pm
Tuition: $105; .6 CEU


The End of American (Demographic) Exceptionalism?
Dr. Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba

While the US has stood apart from its peers in terms of population trends for the past several decades, it appears that American exceptionalism is coming to an end. American women are having fewer babies, immigration is slowing, and mortality is rising. If part of America’s success was due to its favorable demographics, particularly its robust working age population, then the end of demographic exceptionalism means the US will be demographically more like Europe. How does the US—government, business, and society—need to prepare for a new demographic reality and the challenges and opportunities that come along with it?

Texts: Readings will be provided as PDFs.
Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba, PhD University of Maryland, College Park, Associate Professor of International Studies
Two Tuesdays: March 20 and 27
5:30-7:30 pm
Tuition: $80; .4 CEU


Great Decisions in Foreign Policy
Prof. Stephen Ceccoli


A review of important global issues confronting U.S. foreign policy decision makers. The course meets in the evening for two hours, once a week for eight weeks. The teaching of this course is shared, as each member of the International Studies departmental faculty will deliver one lecture. The course is open to Rhodes College students as well as Meeman Center students. Topics this spring include the waning of Pax Americana; China: economic power and geopolitics; Media and foreign policy; the U.S. Defense Budget; South Africa; Russia; and Global Health.

Text: Readings will be provided via the Great Decisions Briefing Book, available for pick-up in King Hall prior to the first meeting of the course.
This course will be team-taught by members of the Rhodes Department of International Studies and directed by Stephen Ceccoli, PhD Washington University, Professor of International Studies.

Eight Tuesdays: January 16, 23, 30, February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 13
Class will meet in Buckman Hall, Room 108.*

6:00-8:00 pm
Tuition: $300; 1.6 CEU


The History of Musical Theater
Dr. Vanessa Rogers

Surveying the art form known as musical theatre from its multiple origins through contemporary trends, we will use music and film to gain a broader understanding and appreciation of this performance genre. We will examine composers, lyricists, producers, directors, choreographers, and performing artists who have contributed to the development of musical theatre in order to look at the development of the musical as an art form. We will also explore musicals as a way of illuminating broader social and cultural themes of the history of the United States.

Text: Readings will be provided as PDFs.
Vanessa Rogers, PhD University of Southern California, Associate Professor of Music, Music History Coordinator
Four Thursdays: April 12, 19, 26 and May 3.
5:30-7:30 pm
Tuition: $140; .8 CEU


Paris: Inventions and Reinventions
Dr. Shira Malkin

We tend to associate the signature features of Paris with the transformations that Baron Haussmann implemented in the second part of the 19th century. Yet Paris as a modern urban space was in fact invented two and a half centuries earlier in 1607, with the construction of the New Bridge (le Pont Neuf) that became the symbol of the French capital to Parisians rich and poor. In this course, we will examine the different ways in which planned development created (or recreated) iconic places such as the Pont Neuf, the Place des Vosges, the Louvre, and the Ile Saint-Louis, thereby redefining people’s conception of a city’s potential and giving Paris its mythic identity as the City of Light.

Text: How Paris became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, Joan DeJean
ISBN: 987-1620407684
Shira Malkin, PhD SUNY-Buffalo, Doctorat Université Paris-Diderot; Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures (French)
Four Tuesdays: April 3, 10, 17, and 24
5:30-7:30 pm
Tuition: $140; .8 CEU


Stars and Their Planets

Dr. Elizabeth Young
Planets around other stars were first discovered in 1992. We will explore the various types of planets, methods of finding them, and properties of their host stars. Stellar formation, lifecycles, and conditions for life as we know it will be discussed.

Text: Readings will be provided as PDFs.
Elizabeth Young, PhD Princeton University, Assistant Professor of Physics

Three Thursdays: January 18, 25, and February 1
5:30-7:30 pm
Tuition: $105; .6 CEU


Drs. Daniel Ullucci, Stephen Wirls, and Rhiannon Graybill

This course will be taught by faculty drawn from the Search Program and will introduce Meeman students to some of the texts and cultures at the heart of Western liberal arts education.


The Text of the Bible: From the Mediterranean to Memphis
Dr. Daniel Ullucci

The “greatest story ever told” was a long time in the making and even longer in the editing and translating. This course will explore the path from the reed pens of the original Biblical authors to the printed English Bible. We will consider the complex compositional process of the ancient texts themselves; the fractious collecting of texts into the present canon; the laborious and error-prone process of manual copying; the tools and technology of ancient scribes and early printers; and the subjective translating of the texts into English. The class will also have the opportunity to visit the Rhodes College library to examine firsthand some of the biblical texts held there. These include intricately illuminated medieval and renaissance manuscripts, pages of the first printed Bible by Gutenberg, and some of the earliest English Biblical translations.

Daniel Ullucci, PhD Brown University, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Four Wednesdays: January 17, 24, 31, and February 7
5:30-7:30 pm


Individual and Society
Dr. Stephen Wirls

Registration has ended for this class.  To be placed on the waiting list, please contact Susan Bingham at 901-843-3965 or

Are we fundamentally individuals or are we fundamentally social beings? Can we be both? The answers to these questions not only divide classical thought from modern thought, but also reveal divisions among liberals and among conservatives. We will discuss variations on both, with particular emphasis on political association, sex, love, and family.

1. Humans as fundamentally associative: Aristotle, The Politics
2. Humans as fundamentally individual: John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
3. Society as useful: David Hume, Essays
4. Society as antidote to individualism: De Tocqueville, Democracy in America
5. Sexual desire and marriage, liberal and conservative views: Locke, Second Treatise of Government; Roger Scruton, “Meaningful Marriage”

Text: Readings to be provided as PDFs.
Stephen Wirls, PhD Cornell University, Associate Professor of Political Science
Five Wednesdays: February 14, 21, 28, March 14, and 21
5:30-7:30 pm


Prophets and Prophecy: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel
Dr. Rhiannon Graybill

This class introduces prophecy and biblical prophetic literature through a reading of the three Major Prophets of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. We will begin with the book of Isaiah, which contains some of the greatest poetry in the Hebrew Bible, as well as a prophet who walks naked for three years, calls Cyrus the Great "Messiah," and has a vision of God. Next, we will turn to Jeremiah, the "Lamenting Prophet," to explore prophecy as a source of conflict and pain, even as it brings intimacy with God. We will end with Ezekiel, whose spectacular vision of the divine chariot and miraculous restoration of the dry bones vie uneasily with his misogyny and his strange prophetic actions. In each class, we will consider the historical and literary features of the prophetic text, as well as its history of interpretation.

Readings: Week 1: Isaiah; Week 2: Jeremiah; Week 3: Ezekiel
Recommended Bible translations: New Revised Standard Version; New Jewish Publication Society Tanakh
Rhiannon Graybill, PhD University of California at Berkeley, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Three Wednesdays: April 4, 11, and 18
5:30-7:30 pm


Tuition for all 12 Search sessions: $400; 2.4 CEU total
Tuition for The Text of the Bible: $140; .8 CEU
Tuition for Individual and Society: $180; 1 CEU
Tuition for Prophets and Prophecy: $105; .6 CEU


Drs. Lori Garner, John Kaltner, Caki Wilkinson, Scott Newstok, Donald Tucker, and Alexandra Kostina

This course presents an array of literary works from around the world.


Exploring the World of Beowulf
Dr. Lori Garner

Surviving in a single manuscript dating to the late tenth or early eleventh century, this epic poem tells the story of the Geatish hero Beowulf as he defends the Danes against the monster Grendel, slays Grendel’s mother, and eventually battles a dragon during his reign as king. In this two-week class, we will explore this fascinating poem in various social, historical, and cultural contexts. Discussion will include such topics as manuscript production, medieval oral tradition, Old Norse analogues, depictions of women, historical background, and modern film adaptations.

Readings: January 22: lines 1-1650; January 29: lines 1651-3182
Text: Beowulf, translated by Roy Liuzza, 2nd edition
ISBN: 978-1554810642
Lori Garner, PhD University of Missouri, Columbia; Associate Professor of English
Two Mondays: January 22 and 29
5:30-7:30 pm


Biblical Figures in the Qur’an
Dr. John Kaltner

Non-Muslims are often surprised to learn that many people mentioned in the Bible also play important roles in the Qur’an. This course considers some of the shared traditions in the two texts and what a comparative study of them can teach us about both. After a brief introduction to the Qur’an, the Islamic versions of a few prominent characters will be put in conversation with their biblical counterparts.

Text: Readings from the Qur’an will be provided as pdf’s, but students should also bring a copy of the Bible to class.
John Kaltner, PhD Drew University, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Two Mondays: February 5 and 12
5:30-7:30 pm


Poetry in the 21st Century: The Work of Terrance Hayes
Dr. Caki Wilkinson

This course will introduce participants to the poetry of Terrance Hayes, who will be visiting Rhodes in March for the annual Jack D. Farris Visiting Writers Series. Hayes is author of five books of poetry and the recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Course readings will feature a sampling from Hayes’s previous collections and his forthcoming book, American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin. Discussions will center on specific poems and recent trends in contemporary poetry as well as the creative process more broadly, making this course a good fit for readers and writers alike.

Text: Readings will be provided as PDFs.
Caki Wilkinson, PhD University of Cincinnati, Assistant Professor of English
Two Mondays: February 19 and 26
5:30-7:30 pm


No Island Is an Island
Dr. Scott Newstok

What is an island? Why might you set a play, a poem, a novel, a philosophical utopia there? We will discuss Shakespeare’s late play “The Tempest” as an instance of island-thinking, in anticipation of Marc Shell’s March 15 lecture on “Islandology”:

Text: "The Tempest” (Folger Shakespeare Library), ed. Barbara Mowat
ISBN: 978-0743482837
Scott Newstok, PhD Harvard University; Professor of English
One Monday: March 12
5:30-7:30 pm


The Theater of Federico García Lorca
Dr. Donald Tucker

Federico García Lorca’s death has attracted almost as much attention as his poetry and theater. Shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Lorca “disappeared,” probably having been shot and buried in an unknown grave near Granada. Recent efforts to locate his remains have been unsuccessful. Why he was killed and by whom remain a subject of debate, but for many years a rumor circulated that Lorca was murdered because he was homosexual. Although a non-combatant, Lorca was clearly identified with the leftist republican government, having organized a traveling theater under the sponsorship of that regime. Moreover, one of his most memorable poems in his Romancero Gitano is a surrealistic ballad that recounts how members of the notorious Civil Guard savagely attacked an innocent Gypsy Christmas festival.

Following the war the Franco government looked unfavorably on Lorca’s work, with the result that his plays were rarely performed in Spain. Spanish intellectuals who had fled to Argentina and Mexico kept Lorca’s memory alive and his first published works appeared in Argentina. His greatest play, The House of Bernarda Alba, was first performed in Buenos Aires in 1944. Since the death of Franco in 1975 Lorca’s plays have received the attention they deserve in Spain and have been performed in Madrid’s most prestigious theater, María Guerrero.

This class will consider three of his most mature and successful tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of Bernarda Alba. Blood Wedding and Yerma will be discussed in our first meeting, and Bernarda Alba will be the subject of the second class.

Text: Three Tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, Bernarda Alba, translated by James Graham-Luján
ISBN: 978-0811200929
Donald Tucker, PhD University of North Carolina; Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages and Literatures (French)
Two Mondays: March 19 and 26
5:30-7:30 pm


Brothers Karamazov
Dr. Alexandra Kostina

Brothers Karamazov is Dostoevsky’s final and possibly greatest novel that tackles the ethical debates of God, freedom and morality, faith and reason. This spiritual drama of moral struggles is set against a modernizing Russia and Western beliefs that Russian elites had appropriated, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. The course will examine religious and philosophical themes presented in the novel, as well as its literary innovations and merits.

Text: Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, ed. and with a revised translation by Susan McReynolds
ISBN: 978-0393926330
Alexandra Kostina, PhD Gornyi University and Herzen State Pedagogical University; Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures (Russian)

Four Mondays: April 9, 16, 23, and 30


Tuition for all 13 World of Literature Classes: $440; 2.6 CEU
Tuition for Exploring the World of Beowulf: $80; .4 CEU
Tuition for Biblical Figures in the Qur’an: $80; .4 CEU
Tuition for Poetry of the 21st Century: $80; .4 CEU
Tuition for No Island Is an Island: $45; .2 CEU
Tuition for The Theater of Federico García Lorca: $80; .4 CEU
Tuition for Brothers Karamazov: $140; .8 CEU


*All Meeman courses will meet in King Hall, with the exception of Great Decisions in Foreign Policy. It will meet in Buckman Hall Room 108.