[SOLD OUT] Reading Moby-Dick with Hester Blum (Virtual Course)

Date / Time

  • April 11, 2023
    6:00 pm - 7:30 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.
  • This is a virtual program held over Zoom.
  • 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 July 18, for members on July 25, and for the general public on August 1.


Course Description

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick has a monumental reputation. Less well known are the novel’s unexpectedly weird, funny, tantalizing, messy, and wondrous moments. Narrator Ishmael, along with the whaleship Pequod’s other “meanest mariners, and renegades and castaways,” is beguiled into joining Captain Ahab in his vengeful pursuit of the white whale that “dismasted” him. But along the way, Ishmael takes the reader along many a detour into varied ways of knowing. In a tone “strangely compounded of fun and fury,” Moby-Dick brings outlandish curiosity to bear on the multitudinous, oceanic scale of our diverse world. 

In this course, which welcomes first-time Melville readers and Moby-Dick obsessives alike, our discussions will range from the novel’s most thunderous, epic heights to its quirkiest, crudest jokes. What higher (or lower) powers are at play in the world? How do we come to knowledge? What do humans owe one another? What does a “heart-stricken moose” sound like? Is that really how sperm whales got their name? These and innumerable other questions are raised by Melville’s best-known work, and most readers come away from Moby-Dick with a new sense of how to navigate the oceanic vastness of our world. We will have the benefit drawing from the Rosenbach’s excellent Melville holdings in our discussions. 

Prerequisites: intellectual generosity and openness to new ideas; inquisitiveness and comfort with unknowingness. This course will satisfy the requirement to have read Moby-Dick. 

Text: Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (Oxford, 2022), ed. Hester Blum 

Moby-Dick syllabus

About the Instructor

Hester Blum is Professor of English at Penn State. She is the editor of the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Moby-Dick and the author of The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives and The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration, among other volumes. Blum is past president of the Herman Melville Society, and her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She participated in the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last surviving wooden whaleship and the sister ship to the Acushnet, in which Melville sailed. 

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.

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