American History and Literature

Group Leaders – Virginia Law. Phone: 425-5453, veelaw29@gmail.com,
Ken Burson: 475-2121, kenlburson@gmail.com


Like a fresh look at American history and literature? Join us in an ongoing study of the American narrative. Members present information followed by discussion. Sample topics: the Mexican War, the continuing slavery issue, the CA Gold Rush, and writers like Mark Twain, Thoreau, and Dickinson.

If you are interested, join with me and 8–12 OLLI members in an ongoing study of revisions to the American narrative. I expect to provide a framework, some resources, and a location for this study: members would be expected to participate by reporting their findings, dictated by their interests and knowledge.  This group is currently full, but you can contact the leaders and ask to be put on a wait list.


From the historical standpoint, the year’s study will start with a review of the Constitution and proceed to a study of its implementation in the New Republic. Additional topics: the ongoing slavery issue; the War of 1812; the American Indian controversy; and finally, the Mexican War and the California Gold Rush. The literature component will primarily focus on the Transcendentalists and consist of short story readings, a few essays by Thoreau and Emerson, the short novel Billy Budd by Melville, and selections from Hawthorne.


Group Leader: A longtime “lifelong learner,” I focused on American literature in college, and for 25+ years taught Composition and Literature at West Valley College, Saratoga, including a survey course in American Literature. A small library pertaining to American history is available for our use. 

Location: 115 Pasture Rd. Santa Cruz CA Phone: 831-425-5453  or 831-295-2542
I do have stairs to climb to my house. If this is a problem, give me a call.

Time: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm on the 4th Monday of the month.