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

Date / Time

  • 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 | Blueprints for Healing: Toni Morrison and the Balm of Black Women Writing

Date / Time

  • April 18, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • May 16, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

This course will explore counternarratives of trauma and healing in Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved as well as three novels by Black women writers influenced by Morrison’s life and work: The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara, Corregidora by Gayl Jones, and Meridian by Alice Walker. These groundbreaking novels uniquely underscore the political and spiritual struggles of Black women in search of freedom throughout different time periods in U.S. history. Alongside spirited and weighty discussion of the books and related film and video excerpts, students will delve into their own narratives through poetry and letter writing. 

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

Date / Time

  • 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 | A Culinary Comedy of Manners

Date / Time

  • April 21, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • May 26, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • June 9, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

A course for those who like to read, and like to eat, and like to laugh. The Culinary Comedy of Manners takes us on a three century tour exploring three comic plays that satirize the follies and eccentricities of the upper classes. While in this course, we’ll also sample the gastronomic delights of each time period in a way that connects the food to our literary conversation. We will meet at The Rosenbach for three sessions, in which your professor will bring specially prepared period food to sample.  The last session will meet at the Culinary Literacy Center of the Free Library of Philadelphia for a cooking demonstration of the foods enjoyed throughout the course. 

Course | Austen’s Mansfield Park: A Vindication of the Rights of Fanny Price

Date / Time

  • April 23, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • May 21, 2020
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Fanny Price, the heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, may not have the dazzling Lizzie Bennet wit, or charming Emma Woodhouse schemes, but she remains one of the most compelling of Austen’s female characters. Fanny is a young vulnerable woman, raised in a working-class seaside town, brought to her relations in a dazzlingly wealthy estate home, where she must navigate an intimidating societal environment. As 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, we’ll look at Fanny Price through the lens of women’s rights in the early 19th Century.  Austen was acutely aware of the position women held in her society and, in a way, her books are about how women dealt with scenarios in which they had little rights and even less control over their conditions.  We’ll highlight our reading of Mansfield Park with some contemporary critical essays and women’s rights works from Austen’s lifetime.

Course | Joseph Conrad: Speaking of His Own Time and to Our Own [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • 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.

Course | Little Women in 20/20: Classic Novel, Modern Lens [In Progress]

Date / Time

  • 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

  • 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.