DELVE READERS SEMINARS cultivate readers and a community for the shared experience of reading.
UPCOMING DELVE SEMINARS
Roberto Bolaño, 2666
Mondays, March 18-April 22, 2019 (six sessions)
Guide: Benjamin Ficklin, Tuition: $220
“Only in chaos are we conceivable.” Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous novel 2666 attempts to explore the totality of evil in the 20th century. Ranging from World War II to Detroit to the deserts of Mexico, the nearly 1000-page book presents a huge cast of characters, each individual offering their pain and hope as exemplifications of the current human condition. This novel has been celebrated in many languages and heralded as the beginning of 21st century literature.
Reading List: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
Wednesdays, April 3-May 8, 2019 (six sessions)
Guide: Christopher Zinn, Tuition: $220
Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) brought Thomas Pynchon the National Book Award and coronation as the crafty artificer of a postmodern epic set principally in Europe in the waning days of WWII. The novel’s sprawling and eccentric narrative, by turns antic and somber, offers readers a mostly delightful challenge and rewards them with a unique, some would say essential, picture of instances and forces that shaped the fate of humanity in the last century.
Reading List: Gravity’s Rainbow, Penguin Classics Deluxe edition
Embolden Your Reading
Tuesdays, April 9-30, 2019 (four sessions)
Guide: Sara Guest, Tuition: $180*
*Includes reader’s packet materials fee. Early-bird registrations (before October 10, 2018) will receive admission to Jill Lepore’s Portland Arts & Lectures event on October 11 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall)
This seminar will give us a chance to think more broadly and boldly about how to enter and engage in our national conversation about gender and human rights, related to movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and LGBTQIA+ rights. We’ll explore diversity in genre, race, perspective and point-of-view through a reader’s packet of multiple authors.
Reading List (packet included with tuition): Works of nonfiction and fiction by Jill Lepore, Siri Hustvedt, Carmen Maria Machado, Margaret Atwood, Leni Zumas, Michelle Tea, Phoebe Robinson, and Rebecca Solnit; poetry by Patricia Lockwood, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Morgan Parker, Aracelis Girmay, Jenny Xie, Jenny Zhang, and Analicia Sotelo
Unchecked Momentum: Abstract Expressionism & The New York School
Thursdays, April 11-May 16, 2019 (six sessions)*
Guide: Coleman Stevenson, Tuition: $235
*This seminar meets at the Portland Art Museum (1219 SW Park Ave, Portland OR)
In 2000, the Portland Art Museum acquired the Clement Greenberg Collection of 159 paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures by some of the most important American artists of the mid-20th century. Greenburg, the prominent and influential writer and art critic, is most known for his promotion of the Abstract Expressionist painters including Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, and many others. This Delve will explore pieces in the Greenberg Collection alongside Greenberg’s essays on art, as well as the words of another leading writer of that era, poet, art critic, and MOMA curator Frank O’Hara. O’Hara was a leading figure in the New York School, an informal group of artists, writers and musicians who drew inspiration from abstract expressionism, action painting, and collaboration across genres. We will read his collection of essays, Art Chronicles: 1954-1966, accompanied by some of his poems that demonstrate the feel of art and life in the NYC of that era.
Reading List: Frank O-Hara, Art Chronicles: 1954-1966, plus supplemental readings
Immigrant Women’s Literature: Crossing the Borders of Nations and Selves
Sundays, April 28, May 5, and May 12, 2019 (three 3-hour sessions)
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Guide: Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, Tuition: $195
*Tuition includes admission to Chimamanda Adichie’s Everybody Reads author event on March 14 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (available for those who register before March 14)
This seminar will focus on the experiences of migrant, immigrant, and refugee women of color and their diverse relationships to their past nations, history, memory, and migrations. By reading works by Reyna Grande, Diana Abu Jaber, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, we will explore how each of these writers represent the consequences of border crossings, and the interconnections between language, culture, self and displacements that such border crossings invariably provoke.
Reading List: The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande; Crescent by Diana Abu Jaber; Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Tuesdays, May 7 – June 11, 2019 (six sessions)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Guide: Bennett Gilbert Tuition: $220
In this Delve seminar we will read some of Walter Benjamin’s essays and notes in connection with the events of his times in order to understand the nature of his ideas as he developed them throughout his life. Benjamin generally worked by re-configuring personal and civilizational memory. In remembering Benjamin, we will try to extend this memory study to ourselves and our own situations.
In less than a quarter-century of his youth, Benjamin (1892–1940) created a vastly far-ranging, profound, and powerfully influential body of thought. His writing is fragmented and metaphorical, rather than systematic; and yet it expresses a deeply coherent personal and intellectual approach to life, politics, memory, history, technology, theology, and the arts. His prose ranges from telling children’s stories to acute theoretical critique to mystical vision. Beginning with a collected edition of his writings and the introduction of his work to English-speaking readers in 1955, more and more critics, artists, and philosophers have been inspired by him.
But there is something more to Benjamin than there is to other thinkers of the same caliber. He lived and thought at a tragic intersection of times. His work not only examined the experience of the disasters of fascism, war, and genocide but also intensely explored the possibility of hope amidst hopelessness. To find this hope, he attempted to reconstruct our notions of time, history, and culture by combining Marxism, Jewish mysticism, and ideas entirely original to him.
Literary Arts will be offering several shorter “mini-Delves” this summer. We’ll be updating the list throughout the spring.
The Beginner’s Guide to Henry James
Mondays, June 3 – June 17, 2019 (three sessions)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Guide: Christopher Lord, Tuition: $110
If Henry James is an acquired taste, here is your chance to introduce yourself to “The Master” at his most approachable in these two short novels, among James’s most famous works.
We will begin with “The Turn of the Screw,” one of the most enigmatic ghost stories ever written, one that generates tons of critical ink on both its content and its presentation. Is the unnamed English governess hysterical; or is she locked in combat with two evil spirits for control of the souls of Miles and Flora, the two children in her charge?
Then we will read James’s all-time best seller during his lifetime, “Daisy Miller,” an early example of what later became known as the “International Theme,” where he exposes the artifice and class differences of Americans and/or Europeans away from the comforts of their native soil. The charming protagonist is a puzzle: is Daisy (the quintessential emblem of America) an innocent abroad, or a shameless coquette lacking common moral sensibilities?
Christopher Lord is the author of the Dickens Junction Mysteries, a past recipient of a Literary Arts Fellowship, and has been a frequent Delve Guide for works by Dickens, Hardy, Forster, and the “Golden Age” of Detective Fiction.
PAST 2018/2019 SEMINARS
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick *SOLD OUT*
Tuesdays, September 4-October 9, 2018 (six sessions)
Guide: Christopher Zinn, Tuition: $220
Published in 1851, Moby-Dick is a book like no other. It’s part adventure story, part Elizabethan tragedy, part alt-history, part lyrical meditation on American democracy, part exploration of literary form. In a time of global change, Melville’s account of the far-flung endeavors of Ahab and his crew seems freshly relevant. This Delve will explore the literary and cultural dimensions of this many-sided masterpiece.
Reading List: Moby-Dick, Library of America paperback edition
Shakespeare On Screen: Richard III, Coriolanus, Titus, The Tempest
Wednesdays, September 12-October 10, 2018 (four sessions; no meeting September 19)
Guide: Lois Leveen, Tuition: $150
From the earliest days of cinema, directors have adapted Shakespeare’s work for the screen. In this seminar we’ll explore how these adaptations alter or enrich our experience of Shakespeare’s oeuvre and how they serve as a collaboration between the Renaissance playwright and modern-day directors.
Viewing/Reading List: Richard III (1995, directed by Richard Loncraine, starring Ian McKellen and Annette Bening); Coriolanus (2011, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes); Titus (1999, directed by Julie Taymor, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange); and The Tempest (2010, directed by Julie Taymor, starring Helen Mirren)
Love And Failure: The Fiction And Moral Philosophy Of Iris Murdoch
Mondays, September 17-October 22, 2018 (six sessions)
Guide: Bennett Gilbert, Tuition: $220
Few, if any, thinkers have had combined artistry in storytelling with strength in philosophical thought as powerfully as Iris Murdoch (1919–1999). We will read both Murdoch’s fiction and her philosophical papers in order to explore her responses to issues of gender, society, language, imagination, and moral responsibility. We will also put Murdoch in conversation with the ideas of other thinkers and novelists of her time, including Simone de Beauvoir, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Simone Weil, Flannery O’Connor, and more.
Reading List: Iris Murdoch’s novel The Bell and short philosophical work The Sovereignty of the Good; excerpts from Existentialism for Mystics and Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals; and supplementals
“Incredibly thought-provoking.” –2017 Delve Participant
“I really enjoyed the experience of discussing literature in a non-academic setting, but in an academic way.” –2017 Delve Participant
“I enjoyed reading texts – and being introduced to authors – I would not have found on my own.” –2017 Delve Participant
“Discussing with intelligent people and an intelligent leader provided new insights into the reading. The book became expansive, and every week I’d sit there and say, ‘I want more of this.’” –2015 Delve Participant
Tuition discounts are available for Delve seminars. Apply to participate in the Delve Access Rate Program here.
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Read more about our Delve Guides.
Read past seminar summaries on the Literary Arts blog.