[SOLD OUT!] Reading Middlemarch with Dr. Sean Christopher Hughes | Virtual Course

Date / Time

  • February 15, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • March 15, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • April 19, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • May 24, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • June 21, 2023
    7:30 pm - 9:00 pm



  • Tuition for this course is $250. 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 November 14, for members on November 21, and for the general public on November 28.

Register for the waitlist

Course Description

Virginia Woolf praised Middlemarch as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.” Happily, it’s also funny, deeply empathetic, and full of romance. George Eliot’s masterpiece is a novel about Dorothea Brooke, a young woman entering a questionable marriage, Tertius Lydgate, a doctor at the start of his career, and Middlemarch, the provincial town where they live. But it’s also a book about everything. Eliot knew how to view human life on the largest possible scales—she was friends with some of the leading scientific minds of her day, and she translated works of philosophy by Spinoza and Feuerbach. At the same time, she remains one of the wisest observers of human psychology in all of literature.   

Middlemarch is a masterful synthesis of these two sides of Eliot’s genius, because it’s about dealing with the disconnect between the grandeur of our highest aspirations and the small compromises that make up our lives. If you’ve ever struggled to understand your place in human history, if you’ve ever felt troubled by the disconnect between your youthful ambitions and your day-to-day existence, if you want to empathize with the people around you even when they feel stifling, then Middlemarch is for you.    

Each session will include background on one of the novel’s contexts, but our discussions will be guided by the interests of our participants. Likely topics include marriage, status, history, ambition, gossip, morality, gender, why things change, why things stay the same, family, politics, the purpose of art, and the meaning of life.  

Middlemarch syllabus

About the instructor

Sean Hughes is a Philly-based writer and editor who has taught at Bryn Mawr College and Rutgers University – New Brunswick, where he completed a PhD in English Literature in 2020. His research interests include nineteenth-century literature, the relationship between literature and philosophy, historicism, and poetics. His article “George Eliot, Typology, and the Moral Psychology of Historicism” was published in the Spring 2022 issue of English Literary History. In addition to his academic work, he is also a poetry editor and the co-creator of the webcomic Wally and the Witches.  

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. See all upcoming courses.