Library Virtual “Minicourses” Return This Fall

Registration opens Tuesday, August 30, for three virtual “minicourse” offerings through the Madison Public Library.

The courses, which will cover topics relating to the U.S. Constitution, Buddhism, and Reform Movements in America, are sponsored by the nonprofit Friends of the Madison Public Library.

One minicourse, titled “The Constitution in Flux – How Our Founding Document Has Changed, and What’s Next” will begin on Monday, September 19, and run for five Mondays in September and October from 10 am – 12 pm. Professor of Government and Politics, and Executive Director of FDU Poll, Dr. Daniel Cassino, will lead the sessions.

The course will focus on how although the words of the Constitution haven’t changed much since the passage of the Bill of Rights, the meaning of those words has changed dramatically. Through Supreme Court decisions, changes in rules, and shifts in culture, the meaning of the Constitution, and the system that it established, bear little resemblance to the version set forth by the founders, and that process is far from over. This course will look at how the interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time, focusing on provisions about Civil Liberties and Presidential Power, and see how these provisions are likely to change in the decades to come.

A second minicourse, titled “Many Buddhisms,” will begin on Tuesday, September 20, and run for five consecutive Tuesdays in September and October from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm. Dr. Anne Mocko, Associate Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, will present these sessions.

This course examines Buddhism as a cultural and devotional phenomenon embedded in the varying histories and geographies of Asia. The course will start with a brief overview of Buddhist history and core insights and then examine several different forms of Buddhism, drawing material from Theravada contexts (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia), Mahayana contexts (China, Korea, Japan), and high-mountain contexts (Tibet, Nepal). Finally, the course will present a range of visual and video material to help students gain an appreciation of the cultural aesthetics of different forms of Buddhism.

The final fall minicourse offering will be “Reform Movements in America,” led by Dr. Ian Drake, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. This session will begin on Wednesday, September 21, and run for five Wednesdays in September and October from 10 am – 12 pm.

This five-week series of talks will consider a different reform movement each session, especially the problems reformers sought to address, the methods of organization, and the goals and obstacles facing the movement.  Weekly topics include the Civil Rights movement, the Temperance movement, women’s rights, election reform, and the Animal Rights movement.

Interested students can find registration information here. The tuition for each course is $95, and couples in the same household only pay for one virtual link. No refunds or credits will be given once the course begins. These courses are organized by the Friends of the Madison Public Library, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.  All proceeds benefit the Madison Public Library.

These virtual non-credit courses are open to the public with no prerequisites or examinations.  For more information, please visit the website or email

“Early 20th Century Art in Europe” to be the Next Zoom Minicourse at Madison Library

Summer 2022 Semester

“Composition VII” by Kandinsky, 1913

If you are feeling a little avant-garde, the next Minicourse at Madison Public Library is for you.  “Early 20th Century Art in Europe” will be presented via Zoom by Dr. Kimberly Rhodes, Professor of Art History, Drew University.

This virtual minicourse will focus on the avant-garde movements that developed in Europe between 1900 and 1945, including Fauvism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism.  Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Dali are just a few of the artists discussed in this five-session minicourse on Mondays from 1:30 -3:30 pm, beginning on April 25and running through May 23, 2022.  Dr. Rhodes writes and teaches about modern and contemporary visual culture and has worked as an art historian in the museum and academic settings.

The tuition for the minicourse is $95.00.

Registration opens online on April 11th or by mailing a registration form and a check payable to Friends of the Madison Public Library to Friends of the Madison Library, 39 Keep Street, Madison, NJ 07940.

For more information about this minicourse, please visit our website.  If you have questions, please email us at or leave a voicemail at (929) 450-7940.

Minicourses at Madison Library, celebrating its 30th anniversary, are for the general public and are non-credit courses. All proceeds benefit the library. Minicourses are organized by the Friends of the Madison Public Library, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization of volunteers serving the Madison Library.  

30th Anniversary: 1992-2022 Minicourses

In 2022, we will be celebrating 30 years of continuing education–the first 26 years as ‘Drew Minicourses’ and the last three years as ‘Minicourses at Madison Library.’ It is because of your support all of these years that we were able to offer college-level minicourses and to transition from co-sponsor to sole sponsor, and then from in-person to virtual during the pandemic. We celebrate you and your dedication to knowledge! Thank you!

Winter Art Minicourse Date Change

There is a change in the start date for Dr. Barbara Tomlinson’s virtual Art Course, “New Exhibition Strategies in Art Museums: The Frick Collection, MoMA and British Museum.”

The first day of class will now be Monday, January 31, instead of January 24.  The fifth and last class will be held on Monday, February 28, instead of February 21.  The time is the same, 1:30 – 3:00 pm.

The revised schedule is as follows: January 31, February 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2022, Monday afternoons from 1:30 – 3 pm via Zoom.

There is no change to the other course offering, Dr. Ian Drake’s “Presidential Elections Past and Their Importance for American Government” on Wednesday mornings, 10 am to 12 pm on January 26, February 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2022.

The cost for one course is $95 per individual or couple sharing one screen.  Additional courses are $65 each.  Register online at or with a check made payable to Friends of the Madison Public Library and mailed to Minicourses at Madison Library, 39 Keep Street, Madison NJ 07940.

Fall 2021 Minicourses will be Online

The Friends of the Madison Public Library are pleased to offer three online minicourses with zoom for Fall 2021. Registration will begin August 23, 2021 at These minicourse are open to the public. Current students will receive an email with a link to register.  All proceeds benefit the Madison Public Library.


“19th-century European Art: Romanticism to Post-Impressionism” by Kimberly Rhodes, NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Art History, Drew University

The 19th century was a period of dramatic transformation for the visual arts: artists began to seek inspiration in their imaginations, make overtly political art that responded to contemporary events, and question long-standing artistic traditions.  Simultaneously, new industrially produced materials became available that allowed artists to experiment with such aesthetic attributes as color and texture in exciting ways. Society itself was also changing rapidly, as populations moved from rural to urban environments, transportation allowed for ease of travel, European nations expanded their global power through imperialism, and women and people of color sought equal rights. This course will consider these topics and many others through a chronological discussion of the major movements of the century, including Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism.  

Kimberly Rhodes (PhD, Columbia University) is National Endowment for the Humanities ( NEH) Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Art History at Drew University. She writes and teaches about modern and contemporary art history and has worked as an art historian in both museum and academic settings. Her publications include numerous articles on British visual culture from the eighteenth century to the present and the book Ophelia and Victorian Visual Culture: Representing Body Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Ashgate, 2008). 


“Churchill” by Dr. Jonathan Rose, William R. Kenan Professor of History, Drew University

Winston Churchill (along with Adolf Hitler) is one of the most consequential and intensely studied figures of modern times. For half a century he was an electrifying presence in British politics, holding (at various points) nearly every important post in the British cabinet. He led his country to disaster in the First World War and to victory in the Second World War. He switched parties twice, in part because he was too independent to fit into any conventional ideological category. He inspired fierce loyalty in some, while others were absolutely determined to keep him out of power. And he was a bestselling writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the author of histories, biographies, war reportage, literary criticism, and even a novel. This course explores — and attempts to explain — the life and times of this extraordinary, ingenious, and often contradictory figure.

 Additional readings:  The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale University Press).

Jonathan Rose is the William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University.  He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.A. from Princeton University. His fields of study are British history, intellectual history, and the history of the book. He is coeditor of the journal Book History, which won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals award for the Best New Journal of 1999. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cambridge and Princeton University, and he reviews books for the Times Literary Supplement and the Daily Telegraph (London).    His most recent books are The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale UP, 2014), which won the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize; and ‘Readers’ Liberation’ (Oxford UP, 2018).His book, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, won the Longman-History Today Historical Book of the Year Prize and two other awards.  Other publications include The Edwardian Temperament 1895-1919 and The Revised OrwellBritish Literary Publishing Houses 1820-1965


“The History of U.S. Constitutional Themes and Concepts” by Ian Drake, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law, Montclair State University

1)    The Power of the Supreme Court:  Judicial Review

In this introductory talk, we will consider the concept of judicial review.  What is it?  What power does it give to courts?  How have courts historically used this power?  Is it good for America?  We will review the historical roles of judges in British history and American colonial history and how judges adapted to the American constitutional system in the early years of the Republic. 

2)    The Freedom to Think: The History of Free Speech in America

 In this talk we will review the history of free speech, considering its British roots and how the United States Constitution affected notions of freedom of thought and speech.  We will also analyze how the Supreme Court has treated and altered the legal rules protecting speech and “expression” during the 20th century.

3)    The “Robber Barons” and the Trusts: The Court and Corporations

In this talk we will review one of the most notable cases of the early 20th century: the Standard Oil case of 1911.  This case revealed how American business functioned in the late 19th century and how the federal government sought to respond to the advent of a national corporation.  The Court’s approach to Rockefeller’s company still impacts governmental regulation of businesses today. 

4)    Substantive Due Process: The Most Important Doctrine You’ve Never Heard Of

In this talk we will analyze one of the most famous (or infamous) doctrines of American constitutional history: substantive due process.  It was the doctrine that decided cases from Dred Scott to Roe v. Wade and is often a feature of confirmation hearings about the judicial philosophy of nominees to the federal bench.  All lawyers know about it, but every American should know the meaning of this important constitutional doctrine.  

5)    Leviathan Lives: Federal Power and the Commerce Clause

In this talk we will learn about what is arguably the most important clause in the Constitution regarding Congress’s power: the Commerce Clause.  This clause has been the source of federal laws from the Sherman Antitrust Act to the Civil Rights Act.  Much of the federal legislation of the 20th century was premised on this clause.  Today, among liberals and conservatives, the clause is hotly debated as to whether it should continue to be a source of broad federal power. 

Dr. Ian Drake is Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University.  He obtained his B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill, his J.D. from the University of Richmond, and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maryland at College Park. His teaching interests include the American judiciary and legal system, the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional history, the history and contemporary study of law and society, broadly construed, and political theory. His recent research interests include the history of American constitutional law and private law, particularly tort and contract law. Dr. Drake is currently conducting research on animal protection laws, First Amendment rights, and the politics of the treatment of animals used in industrial agriculture and scientific research. Prior to earning his Ph.D. in history, Dr. Drake practiced law in the areas of insurance and tort law.  His many publications include articles in scholarly journals, contributions to book chapters and book reviews.