The Cockefair Chair and UMKC’s talented faculty deliver short, engaging courses on national issues, Kansas City interests and literature and the arts. Enjoy the experience of thoughtful analysis on a variety of subjects of interest.

Fall 2019 Course Schedule

Telling Tears: Surprising Cultural and Historical Variables of a Universal Experience

Gary L. Ebersole, Ph.D., Professor of History and Religious Studies
Department of History
Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. – noon
Oct. 3, 10 and 17
UMKC Administrative Center, Plaza Room
$40 ($55 with parking permit)

Gary Ebersole will provide a comparative and historical look at tears. Yes, crying. Ebersole is currently completing a book, Telling Tears: Towards a Comparative and Historical Study of Ritualized Weeping. Most everyone knows and understands — or thinks they do — tears. But Ebersole will introduce examples that illustrate how shedding tears (and depicting tears) is culturally and historically variable and is also dependent on constructions of gender, social class, age, etc. This course will invite the audience to think about how things we take to be natural and universal are frequently anything but.


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The Creative World of Jeanine Tesori

William Everett, Ph.D., Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Musicology
UMKC Conservatory
Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. – noon
Oct. 23 and 30 and Nov. 6
UMKC Administrative Center, Gillham Park Room
$40 ($55 with parking permit)

This course will explore the work of Jeanine Tesori, one of the most dynamic and significant composers of musical theater today. Her musicals range from live-action versions of popular animated films (Shrek) to those dealing with race in America (Caroline, or Change) and a woman coming to terms with her own sexuality and her gay father (the Tony Award®-winning Fun Home). Her most recent works include a musical about the 2016 U.S. presidential election told from a Chinese perspective (Soft Power) and an opera about race in America (Blue). In addition to her work for the stage, Tesori has also written for film and television. Two of her musicals — Caroline, or Change and Fun Home — will receive professional productions in Kansas City this season.


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1859: A Marvelous Year

William B. Ashworth Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of History
Tuesdays,  Nov. 5, 12 and 19*
Thursdays, Nov. 7, 14, 21*
10:30 a.m. – noon
Linda Hall Library Auditorium, 5109 Cherry St.
$40 (No parking permits required at Linda Hall Library)

The year 1859 is best known for the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, but that was just one of many publications, performances, paintings and public phenomena that make 1859 one of the most remarkable years in history. Notable events include the announcement of the discovery of the source of the Nile by John Speke and Richard Burton; the publication of Edward Fitzgerald’s The Rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám; the opening of a special exhibition of Frederic Church’s monumental painting, The Heart of the Andes; the debut of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor; the christening of Isambard Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge in Plymouth, England; the premier of Gounod’s Faust in Paris; and the massive public funeral of Alexander von Humboldt in Berlin. And there are at least a dozen other events of historic significance in this one year. Ashworth will weave them all into one narrative, drawing together the history of science, painting, technology, music, exploration and literature. As always, his talks will be abundantly illustrated.

*The 1859: A Marvelous Year session on Tuesdays in November sold out quickly. Due to popular demand and with thanks to our speaker, we have added an additional session on Thursdays Nov. 7, 14 and 21.


Register for the Thursday class


View course brochure (PDF)