What are the tools and techniques we need to read great literature? What makes the writing of authors ranging from Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare to James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and Toni Morrison, among many others, connect with readers? How do we unlock works that seem so difficult and impenetrable at first—until we learn how to interpret them? And how can the ability to read great literature closely and deeply help us to better understand ourselves and our world in a richer, more resonant way?
Join Joseph Luzzi, professor of comparative literature at Bard College, in a fascinating guide to reading celebrated literary works, past and present. He illuminates the general principles and strategies groundbreaking authors employ in their art in an exploration of excerpts from great writers, including Virgil, Cervantes, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Woolf, Márquez, and others. He also considers contemporary writers who are changing and shaping our understanding of literature.
10–10:45 a.m. What Is Great Literature?
Key definitions and examples of how we arrive at an understanding of the term “literature.”
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. The Epic World: Ancient to Renaissance
Exploration of the key techniques and forms in the epic, from Homer and Virgil to Dante and Milton. Shakespeare’s contributions to Renaissance literature.
12:15–12:45 p.m. Break
12:45–1:45 p.m. The Rise of the Novel
The creation of the novel form pioneered by Cervantes with Don Quixote and continuing through great 19th-century novels by Flaubert, Dickens, Dostoevsky, and others.
2–3 p.m. Modern and Contemporary Masterpieces
Contemporary writers and their technical tools and strategies. What makes the work of modernists like Joyce and Woolf so original. A discussion of authors like Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, and key contemporary writers.
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