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Literature

  • 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.

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.

2019 Spring
1 section

Memoirs with a Social Conscience

Read and discuss five memoirs that succeed in relating personal stories to a larger social and political framework.

2019 Spring
1 section

Nervous Conditions: Contemporary Literature of Sub-Saharan Africa

Explore the vast and diverse terrain of sub-Saharan Africa by reading and discussing literature from the region.

2019 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.

2019 Spring
1 section

Reading the World: Selections from Today's Newsstand

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

2019 Spring
1 section

The Literary Life in New York

See New York through the lens of four distinctive novelists.

2019 Spring
1 section

Women Write Their Lives

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

2019 Spring
1 section

Women of the Mystery: From Agatha Christie to J. K. Rowling

Explore the origins of detective fiction and the prominent role that women writers have played in enhancing its literary reputation. No...

2 sections

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.

2019 Spring
1 section

The Novel Today

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

2019 Spring
3 sections

Tragedy and Philosophy: Philosophical Implications of Ancient Greek Tragedy

Explore the grand themes and philosophical ideas that inspired ancient Greek dramatists.

2019 Spring
1 section

2005: The Beginning of 21st-Century Literature

Read novels from 2005 that respond to the conditions that marked the beginning of 21st-century culture.

2019 Spring
1 section

Anthony Trollope: Exploring the Palliser Novels

Examine Anthony Trollope’s penetrating insights on political and social issues in his Palliser novels.

2019 Spring
1 section

Brilliant Minds

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

2019 Spring
1 section

Shakespeare: Two Tragedies of Forbidden Love

Explore two iconic Shakespeare tragedies, Othello and Romeo and Juliet, and the cultural forces that helped to shape them.

2019 Spring
1 section

Reading Ancient Greek

If you have a basic knowledge of ancient Greek, then use your skills to read and discuss an ancient Greek work that changes each semester.

2019 Spring
1 section

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: War and Prophecy

Examine the different types of prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and explore the role they played within their larger society.

2019 Spring
1 section

1985: Literature Goes Global

Experience literary works written in 1985, an explosive and eventful year on the global stage.

Contemporary Irish Short Fiction

Survey some of the best contemporary Irish short fiction, starting with work from icons like George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney.

Detective Narratives: Women Who Sleuth

Explore the literary appeal of the female detective character.

Literature for the 21st Century

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

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.

Novels with a Social Conscience

Examine eight novels that use moving, memorable stories to illuminate the injustices evident in cultures and communities.

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

Reading Dante's Inferno

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

Shakespeare: The Roman Works

Explore Shakespeare’s epic Roman tetralogy: The Rape of Lucrece, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra.

Shakespeare: The Sonnets

Explore Shakespeare’s sonnets and consider the potentially scandalous stories behind them.

Sites of Seduction: Death in Venice and Its Ancient Greek Models

Read Thomas Mann’s novella, Death in Venice, along with the ancient Greek literature that served as Mann’s inspiration.

Strange Awakenings: Characters in Search of Themselves

Read short stories, novellas, and novels that use epiphanies to explore fundamental human experiences and emotions.

The Best and Worst of Times: Charles Dickens's Historical Novels

This course will examine Barnaby Rudge and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

The First World War and British Fiction: Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End

Read Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, and discuss the social upheaval brought on by onset of World War I.

The Great Ones: Artists from the Kennedy Center Honors

Explore the lives and legacies of America’s greatest artists, from dancers and actors to musicians and comedians.

The Greatest Journey of Them All: Reading Homer's Odyssey

Relive—or enjoy for the first time—the fabulous adventures of Odysseus as he journeys home to his wife and son after the Trojan War.

The Short Story: Coming of Age

Read moving literary short stories that are rendered through the eyes of younger protagonists by writers from diverse backgrounds and regions.

Women Fiction Writers

By reading some of their acclaimed novels, explore how female authors see the world and portray their distinctive experiences.

Bob Dylan: American Literature's Defiant Prophet

In this course, examine Bob Dylan’s lyrics, watch videos, and read some of the most insightful scholars of Dylan’s oeuvre.

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: The Five Books of Moses (Torah)

Read the first five books of the Bible, tracing the processes by which they were formed and considering the multiple contexts that informed them.