Why do so many readers throughout the world still clamor for the books of Jane Austen? And why is her life the subject of ongoing fascination? Joseph Luzzi, a professor of comparative literature at Bard College, explores the remarkable career and life of a woman who overcame countless obstacles to become a deeply revered author.
Herman Melville’s tale of yearning, obsession, wreckage, and deliverance has drawn generations of readers into its obsessive, unfinished quest. They’ve seen reflected in its pages the urgent questions of their times, including issues of democracy, race, sexuality, labor, and environment. Samuel Otter, a professor of English at Berkeley University, explores the reception of Moby-Dick, ways of reading this surprising and heterogeneous book, and the strange qualities of a work that attempts, as one critic noted, to “incorporate everything.”
Many famous fairy tales—think Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk—appear to be quite conventional. But they can be wonderfully disruptive to our expectations. Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman discuss modern LGBTQ+ twists on old tales and share some very unconventional fairy tales.
The notion that a picture is worth a thousand words is meant to convey the power of imagery. But what of the power of words at the intersection of art and literature? In this summer series, David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, examines the collaboration of photographer Walker Evans and writer James Agee. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)
Discover the joy and power of reflective writing inspired by visual art. Guided by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface, writers of all levels can slow down, look closely, question, wonder, and write inspired by Hughie Lee-Smith's intriguing painting The Beach. These reflections can become fertile creative ground for memoir, poetry, and more.
Meet your new favorite coworker: Henry David Thoreau. In their book Henry at Work, John Kaag and Jonathan van Belle rethink how we work today by exploring an overlooked aspect of the multi-faceted transcendentalist: Thoreau the worker. They reveal that his ideas have much to teach us in an age of remote work and automation in which many people are reconsidering their working lives.
We’ve all heard of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, that trinity of askers of questions—often without answers. But Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes contemplated, questioned, and theorized before Socrates, and important philosophers followed Aristotle, such as Epicurus and Zeno. Author and professor Ori Z. Soltes considers how these brilliant minds addressed the varied layers of reality and why so many of their conclusions remain exciting and relevant.
Why is Virginia Woolf considered one of the most important authors of all time? Join Joseph Luzzi, a professor of literature at Bard College, as he explores Woolf’s remarkable literary contributions. Discover why her innovative writing style, extraordinary emotional insights, and profound level of learning continue to enchant readers worldwide and attract new audiences.
The notion that a picture is worth a thousand words is meant to convey the power of imagery. But what of the power of words at the intersection of art and literature? In this summer series, David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, examines William Blake’s roles as poet and painter. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)
A popular summer retreat for Bostonians and New Yorkers for well over 150 years, the scenic and historic Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts are alive with music, art, and theater. Arts journalist Richard Selden leads a five-day tour that offers a splendid sampling of cultural attractions in the region, from writers’ historic homes to outstanding museums to music and theater performances.
Guided by outreach librarian Erin Rushing, visit the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History at the National Museum of Natural History in a rare look at this research library, typically open by appointment only. The collection contains approximately 10,000 rare books, all published before 1840, on the natural sciences, including anthropology, mineralogy, and zoology.
Few people are neutral about Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand. She generated legions of fans—and detractors—through her bestselling books The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and the philosophy of Objectivism she founded and espoused. Why is Rand so controversial to this day? Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, explores some of the central ideas of Rand’s worldview and why they continue to draw both devoted adherents and impassioned rejection.
He was an uncompromising modernist, a great chronicler of the American South, and an inspiration—as well as immovable obstacle—for the generations of writers who followed. William Faulkner stands as one of the greatest, and one of the most problematic figures in American literature. Michael Gorra, author of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War, focuses on a trio of Faulkner’s greatest novels in a reading series: The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!
Experience the power of reflective writing guided by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface. Inspired by works of art by Georgia O'Keeffe and poetry by Mary Oliver, explore the lessons that the summer season offers us when we slow down, look closely, and reflect. The workshop is designed for writers of all levels.
The notion that a picture is worth a thousand words is meant to convey the power of imagery. But what of the power of words at the intersection of art and literature? In this summer series, David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, examines the multifaceted relationship between Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)
For many American high school students, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter from 1850 is a literary rite of passage, introducing them to the time’s moral codes and the Puritans’ notions of gender, sexuality, and religion. Joseph Luzzi, a professor of literature at Bard College, explores the nuances of Hawthorne’s language and style and the ways in which his vivid characters and their plights relate to concerns in the modern world.
The late 19th century in New York City was an era of exquisite mansions, beautiful parks and squares, and palatial public buildings—all magnificent markers of the Gilded Age and the wealth that made it possible. Yet the city was a study in dichotomies, an urban society whose facets were both celebrated and critiqued in the writings of Edith Wharton and Henry James and boldly exposed by Jacob Riis in his photographs of immigrant life. Lecturer George Scheper surveys the cultural panorama of New York and the contrasting realities of its inhabitants.
For more than a century, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov have captivated readers with their spellbinding narratives, philosophical brilliance, and insights into human psychology and spirituality. Joseph Luzzi, professor of literature at Bard College, takes you inside two of the most consequential novels ever written and explores how their insights continue to illuminate our lives today.
Many young readers list reading J.D. Salinger’s blockbuster novel, The Catcher in the Rye, as one of their most formative experiences with literature. Joseph Luzzi, a professor of literature at Bard College, revisits this epochal work to see how it has aged since its publication in 1951, highlighting the ways in which readers continue to see themselves reflected in the tormented character of its complex protagonist, Holden Caulfield.