DELVE READERS SEMINARS cultivate readers and a community for the shared experience of reading.
UPCOMING DELVE SEMINARS
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 four “mini-Delves” this summer. These Delves all meet for three weeks.
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.
Lucia Berlin: A Manual for the Cleaning Woman
Thursdays, June 13-27 (3 meetings)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Guide: Ivonne Saed Tuition: $110
Lucia Berlin was an acute observer of the everyday. With her wit, humor, and close attention to both the dark and pleasurable moments of an ordinary life, she offers her readers the opportunity to enter these small, mundane worlds that are rarely explored in literature. Her short stories are built with an almost austere and unemotional language that she uses only to get deeper into the minds and hearts of her unforgettable characters.
Lucia Berlin. A Manual for Cleaning Women. New York: Picador, 2015.
Graphic designer, writer, translator, and photographer, Ivonne Saed has extensively explored the crossroads between the visual and the textual, both in her creative work and in teaching. She is the author of the novel Triple crónica de un nombre (Triple Chronicle of a Name)—Juan Rulfo National Award for First Novel in Mexico, and the non-fiction Sobre Paul Auster: Autoría, distopía y textualidad (On Paul Auster: Authorship, Dystopia and Textuality). She has co-authored other fiction and non-fiction books, and has published book reviews, short fiction and photos in several newspapers and magazines in Mexico and the US. She’s taught literature at Oregon State University, Marylhurst University and Universidad Iberoamericana, and she’s been a Delve guide since 2011. Her work has been staged with Jewish Theatre Collaborative (Portland) and Jewish Women’s Theatre (Los Angeles).
On Paul Auster: Authorship and Textuality
Tuesdays, June 18 – July 2 (3 meetings)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Guide: Ivonne Saed Tuition: $110
The act of writing, memory, chance, the double, and the deconstruction of the protagonist are frequent literary elements we find in Paul Auster’s fictional work, especially in The New York Trilogy. The first novel of the set, City of Glass (1985), is one of the best examples, where New York City becomes a labyrinth to be deciphered and traced by its characters. Auster treats this exploration of the city and the act of writing as one and the same, creating an allegory of the book of Genesis, set in modern times. In Ghosts (1986), the second book of Trilogy, the author continues to examine, through a very particular and unique game of mirrors, the same concerns of language and otherness, and the effect that the city has on his characters.
Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy. New York: Penguin Books, 1986
Paul Auster. City of Glass [graphic novel]. Adaptation by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. Introduction by Art Spiegelman. New York: Picador, 2004.
Narratives in the Tarot: The Fool’s Journey
Thursdays, August 1 – 15 (3 meetings)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Guide: Coleman Stevenson Tuition: $110
In this three week Summer Delve, we will study the narratives hidden within the archetypal imagery of the tarot deck, focusing on the Major Arcana in the first week and the four suits in the second week. We will explore traditional ways these tales have been told as well as locate our personal stories within the classic images. Through this crash course in tarot storytelling, participants will also learn some basics of reading the cards for self-study, focusing on an intuitive approach to interpretation. No prior experience with tarot is required.
Text: any Rider Waite Smith style tarot deck (a list of choices will be emailed to participants prior to the first week)
Coleman Stevenson is an illustrator, writer, tarot practitioner. She is the artist behind the Dark Exact Tarot Deck and author of two poetry books, Breakfast: 43 Poems and The Accidental Rarefication of Pattern #5609. She is co-curator of The Doppelgänger Museum, a multimedia collaboration with artist and sound designer Aspen Farer. She has taught a variety of subjects at institutions around Portland, including creative writing, literature, folklore, culture & design, and image & text interaction.
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.
Learn more about volunteering for Delve.
Read more about our Delve Guides.
Read past seminar summaries on the Literary Arts blog.