[In Progress] Reading Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying with Carl Rollyson | Virtual Course

Date / Time

  • April 6, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • April 20, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • May 4, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • May 18, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • June 1, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • June 15, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm



  • Tuition for this course is $300. 10% off for Rosenbach members and the Delancey Society. Not a member? Learn more.
  • This course is limited to participants who are 18 years of age or older.
  • Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on March 2, for members on March 9, and for the general public on March 16.



As I Lay Dying portrays a family adrift and disintegrating, but instead of the Compson elite in The Sound and the Fury, the Bundrens are poor whites. The Sound and the Fury, centers on the Compson household whereas As I Lay Dying is a road novel, with heightened language and interior monologues that deviate from the standards of social realism. Yet the characters are clearly recognizable as the country people that Faulkner associated with. Each Bundren, like each Compson, is distinctive, and yet all are concernd with the same questions: How do you mourn? How do you cope with what you have lost? How do you go on? This biblical story of fire and flood, of a family on a quest to bury their dead mother in her native soil, has a Homeric sweep, but with characters not usually thought of in epic terms. How Faulkner came to write this novel, why he chose a narrative method and style so unlike the work of writers like John Steinbeck and Erskine Caldwell, who created similar characters, will be the focus of this course. 

It will be important to read As I Lay Dying in the Second Norton Critical edition, edited by Michael Gorra. The entire novel is included as well as articles about the cultural background of Faulkner and his characters, and a selection of criticism 

As I Lay Dying syllabus

About the Instructor

Carl Rollyson, Professor Emeritus at Baruch College, The City University of New York, is the author of the two volume The Life of William Faulkner for University of Virginia Press.  He has also published numerous biographies of literary figures such as Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, Lillian Hellman, Amy Lowell, Rebecca West, and Norman Mailer. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New Criterion, and the Washington Post. Carl Rollyson recently led courses on Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! for the Rosenbach.