Course: Moby-Dick

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Date / Time

  • May 21, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • June 18, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • July 16, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • August 20, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • September 17, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • October 15, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States


The course provides an opportunity to read, study, and discuss Herman Melville’s 1851 novel, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. The story tracks two parallel quests: Captain Ahab’s to kill and thereby take revenge on the white whale; and Ishmael’s to know and understand the white whale. We’ll examine the novel for its literary qualities, including the sometimes-elusive nature of its narrator, the density of its symbols, and the multiple different texts it incorporates. Beyond that, we’ll think about the novel’s many arguments about its world (and, indeed, ours), which range from the perils of demagoguery to the politics of race and white supremacy to the nature of God to the tragedies of human-caused species extinction and environmental crisis. Our time together will include some brief lectures, but mostly we’ll use our sessions to discuss and explore this tremendous novel together.


Moby-Dick syllabus

About the Instructor

Travis M. Foster is an assistant professor of English at Villanova University. He is the author of Genre and White Supremacy in the Postemancipation United States, which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. He has also published numerous articles on topics ranging from Lydia Maria Child to campus novels to the early years of the Ladies’ Home Journal. Foster is currently editing The Cambridge Companion to American Literature and the Body.

About Rosenbach Courses

Revisit beloved classics or experience new ones with Rosenbach courses. Book lovers  delve into fiction, history, and poetry with the guidance of a literary expert and the company of other readers. Tuition varies according to length of the course; Rosenbach members at the Contributor level and above receive a 10% discount on tuition.