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  • Analyzes, Interprets, and Critiques Literature
  • Provides Lively Discussion and Debate
  • Develops Cultural Aptitude

These courses provide the opportunity to read and discuss novels, short stories, memoirs, plays, and poetry. You will explore classic and contemporary literature from ancient texts to current bestsellers as you gain skills to analyze, interpret, and critique writing; develop cultural aptitude; and participate in nuanced discussions and lively debates.

An Afternoon with Thoreau: What Walden Means Today

Examine Thoreau’s Walden in its mid-19th-century context and for its relevance to our current culture and environmentalist thinking.

2018 Spring
1 section

Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Revisited

Explore Annie Dillard’s exhilarating stories of nature that pair first-person storytelling with philosophical and religious questions.

2018 Spring
1 section

Autobiography and Memoir: Inside the Heart and Soul of Another

Explore the lives, times, and places of others through a variety of autobiographical books, films, and essays.

2018 Spring
2 sections

Images of Women

Explore how female writers, from Edith Wharton to Elena Ferrante, have created rich, complex, varied portraits of women.

2018 Spring
1 section

Murder, Mayhem, Mystery: The Usual Suspects with Unusual Stories

Explore the history of the mystery novel, and follow how it has changed in style and subject matter over the years.

2018 Spring
1 section

Playing Desert Solitaire with Edward Abbey

Explore the writings of Edward Abbey, whose radical voice is not only a cry in the wilderness, but also a cry for the wilderness.

2018 Spring
1 section

Plays with a Social Conscience

Examine how eight well-known playwrights bring moving, memorable stories to the stage and illuminate injustices evident in culture and communities.

2018 Spring
1 section

Postwar High: 1964 in World Literature

Discover how world literature changed amidst the political and social turmoil of 1964’s postwar high.

2018 Spring
1 section

Reading the World: Selections from The New Yorker, Charlie Hebdo, and Beyond

Discuss articles from a range of magazines and online platforms, including The New Yorker and Charlie Hebdo.

2018 Spring
1 section

Religion and Literature: From the Bible to James Baldwin

Explore themes—love, death, evil, suffering, and forgiveness—across religious and literary texts from the Western canon and beyond.

2018 Spring
1 section

Shakespeare: Wenches, Witches, and Wives

Read and discuss three of Shakespeare’s masterpieces: The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Macbeth.

2018 Spring
1 section

The Canadian Novel and a New Kind of Nation: Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, and Beyond

Explore the vast and diverse terrain of Canada by reading and discussing literature from the country.

2018 Spring
1 section

The Wilderness World of John Muir

Examine the life and writings of John Muir, whose legacy endures through the Sierra Club and the national park system.

2018 Spring
1 section

Love, War, Peaceful Ending: Reading Homer's Iliad

Read and discuss The Iliad by Homer, a plea for peace embedded in the archetypal epic of war.

2018 Spring
1 section

Masterpieces of 19th-Century Fiction

Study five major 19th-century classics of literature that have passed the test of time.

2018 Spring
1 section

Brilliant Minds

Read examples of works in which brilliant minds use their gifts to entertain, inspire, engage, and enlighten us.

2018 Spring
1 section

The Novel Today

Discuss major new work by today’s top writers, including emerging novelists, award winners, and established favorites.

2018 Spring
4 sections

American Noir Novels

Discover the nightmarish alleys, world-weary heroes, and femme fatales of the American noir literary genre.

Bob Dylan: American Culture's Defiant Prophet

Explore poetic songwriter Bob Dylan’s extensive oeuvre, and discuss how his Nobel Prize win changes our sense of literature as a category.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing: The Literature of Migrants and Refugees

Read major works by contemporary migrants and refugees from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

Edgar Allan Poe: His Shadow Lives on Evermore

Explore Edgar Allan Poe’s biographical roots and itinerant career path as a journalist, short story writer, poet, and critic.

Exploring Magical Realism in Latin America: From Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Isabel Allende

Explore the work of novelists who rely on the fusion of the magical and the real to portray the complexities of Latin American identity.

Greek Lyric Poetry

Read representative surviving texts of ancient Greek lyric poetry by luminaries of Greece’s earliest enlightenment.

International Detective Narratives: Around the World with Sleuths

Read selected international detective novels in translation and others by Anglophone writers who set their work abroad.

Interwar Breakpoint: 1929 in World Literature

Read and discuss world literature published in the interwar period of 1929.

John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga: Men and Women in the Edwardian Age

Read John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga, and discuss the rapidly changing Edwardian England of its time.

Literature for the 21st Century

Discover a generation of authors likely to set literary trends well into the 21st century.

Lover or Fighter? Reading Virgil's Aeneid

Read and analyze Virgil’s Aeneid, a thrilling epic and an exploration of the devastation of war.

Making a Murderer: Novels, Documentaries, and Stories of True Crime

Deepen your knowledge of current events, criminology, psychology, and storytelling’s power by exploring narratives of crime and punishment.

Masterpieces of 20th-Century Literature

This course is devoted to the modernist novels of the 20th century that now enjoy classic status.

Personal Nonfiction with a Social Conscience

Read examples of nonfiction that address issues of social justice through compelling personal stories.

Podcasts: Short Stories to Go

Learn how to download and listen to a variety of the best podcasts—an emerging form of storytelling for the digital age.

Reading Dante's Inferno

Examine Dante’s Inferno and its key themes, overall message, and place in cultural and literary history.

Shakespearean Controversies: Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice

Explore two of Shakespeare’s greatest and most controversial plays: Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice.

Women Write Their Lives

Explore the accounts that some exceptional writers who are women have given of their lives, times, places, and experiences.