Course | Learning from James Baldwin [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • January 21, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

James Baldwin, one of the leading writers of the 20th century, portrayed passionate truths about poverty, racism, religion, homophobia, and the struggle for justice in America in his essays, his novels, his stories, his plays—as well as in his lectures and in the recording the life of his mind, heart and spirit.

Course | From Page to Stage: The Philadelphia Theater Season [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • January 25, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

We’ll read and learn about five plays—all different types, all of major importance—that are being performed on stage in Philadelphia this season This will give us a chance to interpret the work and then interpret the production (not necessarily in that order). Each meeting will begin with a short lecture providing background and context, followed by a film clip, followed by conversation.

Course | Herman Melville: Beyond Moby-Dick [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • January 26, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • February 23, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

This course won’t be anything close to a comprehensive survey of Melville’s writings. Yet by setting aside his behemoth, Moby-Dick, we will acquire depth into key texts that help us gain perspective on his career and, even more importantly, insight into his arguments about politics, power, self-deception, and modernity.

Course | Fanged Females: Woman Vampires in Contemporary Film [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • February 2, 2020
    1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

In popular film, depictions of female vampires are fascinating in their variety; while some hew more closely to Bram Stoker’s rather one-dimensional Victorian prototype, others are more nuanced and psychologically complex, reflecting changing cultural attitudes about women, and also reflecting the changing ways in which women view themselves. This class will include a selection of films made after 1980 from a diverse group of filmmakers, all of which feature female vampires as the protagonists.

Course | Little Women in 20/20: Classic Novel, Modern Lens

Date / Time

  • February 4, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • March 10, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • April 7, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • May 5, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Over our four sessions, we will read Little Women, a selection of Alcott’s short writings, and some essays about the phenomenon that is her best-known work. We will discuss why Little Women endures, is so beloved, and why, perhaps, such devotion is best viewed through a critical lens.

Course: Ulysses by James Joyce (Thursdays) [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • February 6, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • March 5, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • April 2, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • May 7, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • June 4, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Heralded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Ulysses is also considered one of the most daunting. The Rosenbach offers a welcoming discussion-based environment and unparalleled access to primary resource materials from our James Joyce collection to deepen readers’ understanding of the text and the author himself. First-time Ulysses readers and returning fans alike are welcome in either group.

Course | Marriage, Murder, and the Madhouse: Victorian Sensation Fiction, or, 19th Century Bestsellers You May Have Missed [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • February 8, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The bestselling novels of the Victorian era are not what you think they are. Beneath the appearance of public respectability, the Victorians devoured novels of mystery, bigamy, madness, the supernatural, seductions, arsonists, and addicts. These now-forgotten novels kept the Victorians reading far into the night, too terrified to blow out the bedside candle. This genre, known as Sensation Fiction, became the best-selling, blockbuster novels of the 19th Century and outsold Dickens, Trollope, and the Brontes.

Course: Ulysses by James Joyce (Sundays) [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • February 9, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • March 8, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • April 19, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • May 17, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • June 7, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

There are infinite routes through James Joyce’s dense, funny, thrilling, frustrating masterpiece Ulysses. If you’ve always wanted to read it, this is a great way in: with good company and monthly conversation. If you’ve read it before, join us to discover something new again in the novel.

Course | Henry James’s Ambassadors: “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to”

Date / Time

  • February 12, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • March 11, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • April 15, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • May 13, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • June 10, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The quotation in the title of this course comes from Book 5 of James’s novel. The novel’s goal is to consider what it means to “live all you can.” James regarded The Ambassadors as his favorite novel and it’s not hard to see why. It is a difficult book, but it is marvelous. The ending is so complex that courses on the subject have been known to devolve into shouting matches! In this book, James addresses what those who have never known the aesthetic life might gain from it. In James’s view, the aesthetic life teaches how to be, in his phrase, “a social animal.” It does so by practice in observation and appreciation of sensuous particulars—the smell of the air, the sound of footsteps on the pavement, the thickness of a napkin, but more important, in taking in individual people–their tone of voice, gesture, bearing. In short, the aesthetic life teaches one to pay attention. Observation and appreciation heighten imagination, especially imagination of what fellow social animals are themselves struggling with. Finally, they teach both patience and generosity in making judgments. In the end, the novel’s primary concern is the difficulty of making wise judgments.

Course | Joseph Conrad: Speaking of His Own Time and to Our Own

Date / Time

  • February 18, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • March 24, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • April 28, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • May 19, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • June 9, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

In this course we’ll study three of Conrad’s major works.  “Heart of Darkness” explores issues of colonialism, bureaucracy and race.  Lord Jim appears to be a typical 19th century colonial adventure-romance while questioning the presumptions of that genre and exploring issues of personal responsibility.  The Secret Agent, the only one of Conrad’s major works set in Britain, strongly foreshadows the work of later writers like Graham Greene and John le Carré in its exploration of the world of spies, double agents and the cynical manipulation of political opinion by both foreign powers and local authorities.