Skip to main content
This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!

How To Read Great Literature

Weekend All-Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, May 21, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0699
Select your Tickets
Powered by Zoom

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.

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.
This online program is presented on Zoom.