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Monadnock Summer Lyceum to begin 52nd season Sunday

  • Richard Lederer will begin the Monadnock Summer Lyceum season on Sunday, June 27. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/25/2021 11:00:57 AM

The Monadnock Summer Lyceum is about to embark on its 52nd season of inspiring speakers, but like last year, the weekly Sunday morning talks will be held via livestream.

Bob Haring-Smith, co-chair of the Lyceum, said the committee made the decision earlier this year to stick with the online format for the entire 2021 season and despite things opening up that decision was done to ensure a season would go on uninterrupted if guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic changed course.

Haring-Smith said last year’s foray into the streaming format worked really well – after working out a few technical details – and that moving forward in the same manner seemed like the most reasonable way to plan for this year. Of course, Haring-Smith and other members of the Lyceum committee want to have the speakers at the pew of the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church in front of a live audience, but for this season the audience will have to tune in via StreamYard.

The service allows for a host behind the scenes to allow for in the moment audience participation, filtering through comments and questions in real time.

“It’s well suited for what we do,” Haring-Smith said. “And it actually went remarkably well last year.”

Some of the speakers later in the summer expressed interest in holding their talks in person, but Haring-Smith said they needed to keep it consistent. But the hope is this will be the last season of an online Lyceum.

The process for choosing the topics and speakers for this year’s season began in the fall. The speaker committee met weekly to bat around ideas and go through audience suggestions from the 2020 season. Some of the speakers were targeted – even personally known by members of the committee – while others were chosen based on a topic.

“We really just talk about what kind of season we want to have,” Haring-Smith said. “We want a variety of speakers and a variety of topics.”

This season, there is a wide range of talks covering everything from language and laughter, gender inequality and whether morals matter in foreign policy. Add in a musical talk, the search for life beyond Earth, what history can tell us about the present, writing about overlooked women and “The N Word, Nature Revisited: Conversations with John Muir and Others” and the season has something for everyone to broaden their knowledge.

“If we can bring something to people’s attention, more than what they’re thinking about, that’s a good thing,” Haring-Smith said.

Join verbivore Richard Lederer as he kicks off the season on Sunday, June 27 at 11 a.m. with an hour of language and laughter that organizers promise will be a total break from the world’s woes and a reminder that the pun is mightier than the sword.

Lederer is a familiar face to Granite State lovers of language having taught and coached at St. Paul’s School in Concord for 27 years and has written a syndicated column “Lederer on Language.”

Now residing in California, Lederer continues to add to his collection of over fifty books written on the origins, humor and delights of language. The student bloopers in his “Anguished English” contain such gems as the “defeat of the Spanish Armadillo” and his 2020 book “A Treasury of Halloween Humor” brings a smile when he asks, “What do you call an empty hot dog?” The answer is of course, “a hollow weenie.” His honors include being named International Punster of the Year and a former usage editor of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language. In addition to his online performance, he will have copies of many of his books with an autographed sticker available at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough.

Marcia Breckenridge, secretary of the Lyceum, will serve as the moderator for Lederer’s talk.

To begin the program, tune in at 10:45 a.m. to hear Eric Stumacher on the piano. Every week, the Lyceum will start each program with a 15-minute pre-recorded music session.

On July 4, the Lyceum will host Hanz Araki for an introduction to Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi, one of the most recognizable sounds of Japan – an end-blown bamboo flute – a tradition with deep roots going back to when it was played exclusively by itinerant monks. Later in the day, Araki will play an Electric Earth concert at the First Church in Jaffrey.

“We knew we were bringing Hanz in and it was another opportunity for him,” Haring-Smith said of the concert.

Heather Cox Richardson will give a talk “What Can History Tell Us About the Present?” on July 11, followed by “Do Morals Matter in Foreign Policy?” with Joseph Nye on July 18. Ellen Stofan joins the Lyceum on July 25 for “Searching for Life Beyond Earth: Moving from Science Fiction to Science Fact,” while Paula Stone Williams and her discussion “What I’ve Learned about Gender Inequity and What We Can Do About It” is scheduled for Aug. 1.

Elise Hooper and “Writing About Overlooked Women” is set for Aug. 15, before the season wraps up on Aug. 22 with Carolyn Finney and “The N Word, Nature Revisited: Conversations with John Muir and Others.”

The livestream Lyceum talks will be available on the organization’s website and their Youtube channel each Sunday morning. Recordings of the speakers will also be available after the live session. All are free, but donations are accepted.

For more information, visit monadnocklyceum.org.


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