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Upcoming Literature and Theater Seminars

This list is of upcoming seminars only. Since most seminars meet more than once in a term, if a class has already met at least once, it will no longer show up on this list. To find a seminar that has already started or has finished, use the calendar and set the date range to include the seminar’s starting date.

Starting: Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Tuesdays, June 10 – July 15
Early Science Fiction and the Extraterrestrial Life Debate
Led by Lee Minnerly

Are we alone in the universe? This provocative and still unanswered question has intrigued Western writers, philosophers, theologians, and scientists for millennia. We will explore what authors of early science fiction had to say about the subject, beginning with Kepler’s Somnium (1634) and ending with Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898). Works by Cyrano de Bergerac,...


Starting: Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Tuesdays, June 10 – July 29
Graham Greene: More Travels With Our Author
Led by Robert Sprott

Five novels will be the summer’s itinerary. We begin in war-ravaged London in a conscience wounded by a murder (The Ministry of Fear). The next stop is Cuba and a vacuum-cleaner salesman turned spy just to make ends meet (Our Man in Havana). Then it’s on to Africa and a leper colony on the Congo (A Burnt-Out Case). Mexico in the twenties is the scene for Greene’s...


Starting: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Wednesdays, June 11 – August 6 (class will not meet July 23)
Whitman’s Leaves of Grass: The Unauthorized Edition
Led by Matt Laufer

In this unorthodox approach to Whitman, we will defy the poet’s wishes and focus not on the baggy, 1890s deathbed edition of Leaves of Grass he preferred (with 400-plus-poems), but rather on the soaring, complex, gorgeously wrought twelve poems of the first, 1855 edition. These dozen poems are not saccharine cheerleading, as is sometimes thought, but rather a complex work of...


Starting: Thursday, June 12, 2014
Thursdays, June 12 – July 31
Chicago Playwrights and Their Plays
Led by Todd Bauer

Explore Chicago theater directly with its makers. Each week, a different Chicago-based playwright will discuss one of their plays with the class. Ranging from established works which have had a number of productions, to scripts still in development, participants will gain a glimpse of the creative process and engage directly with playwrights. Guest speakers will include Douglas Post, Jon...


Starting: Saturday, June 14, 2014
Saturdays, June 14 – August 9 (class will not meet July 5)
The morning session of class is full; the afternoon is open.
Dostoevsky's Petersburg Tales
Led by Julia Denne

Note: There are two sessions of this class to accommodate demand. They both have the same content.

How does Dostoevsky capture the fluidity, instability, and inner complexity of human nature? We will discuss a selection of the author’s novels and stories including Poor Folk, The Double, A Disgraceful Affair, Notes from the Underground...


Starting: Saturday, June 14, 2014
Saturdays, June 14 – August 16 (class will not meet July 5)
William Blake's Jerusalem: "The Grandest Poem that this World Contains”
Led by Susanne Sklar

William Blake’s illuminated masterpiece, Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, is more like an interactive game than a traditional epic. It is designed to take both its characters and readers on a journey from what Blake calls the stultifying mindset of “Selfhood,” to life in “the Divine Body,” in which all things creatively interrelate in ferocious joy. We will embark on...


Starting: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Wednesdays, June 18 – July 9
Carried Away: The Fiction of Alice Munro
Led by Joyce Goldenstern

Short story conventions will indeed be “carried away” as we discuss eight stories by the 2013 Nobel Prize winner and contemporary Canadian author Alice Munro. A master of the short story form, Munro forces us to reexamine our expectations of the short story: its sense of time, its developmental arc, its authority. Through lively discussions of her work, we will place Munro within a larger...


Starting: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Thursdays, June 26 – July 17
Wilde at Heart: The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest
Led by Thomas Zebrowski

The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde’s most controversial work and The Importance of Being Earnest his most popular. Through gothic melodrama and high comedy, Wilde presents the fascinating relationship between life and art. Simultaneously elusive and crystal clear on the place of morality in the aesthetic life, Wilde—paradoxical, brilliant, and still dangerous—dares us...