Welcome to the listings page for the 17/18 season of Delve Readers Seminars. For more about how the seminars work, please see our About page and visit the Guides page for complete bios on our Delve seminar facilitators.
***JUST ADDED: NEW SPRING SEMINAR***
Embolden Your Reading: Today’s Voices
We’ve heard many times that writers ought to write what they know. To some degree this is true of reading also–it makes sense that people spend time with their favorite genres and authors, along with books that represent and give voice to their life experience. At the same time, reading is an opportunity to empathize and gain new perspectives. In an age when we sometimes find ourselves deeply divided by life experience, reading intentionally from authors that write about things we don’t know can be a great practice and habit. How do you get into this habit, and how do you sustain it? This is the question we’ll consider as we become readers of works outside of a more traditional western canon.
In this seminar, we’ll think and talk about how to read and what to read to broaden our point of view, deepen our lens of equity and inclusion, and discover the voices of less canonized authors, especially women and writers from communities of color. We’ll look at diversity in genre, race, perspective and point-of-view and discuss how to reinforce social justice through our reading choices by focusing on fiction and nonfiction by Wahlida Imarisha, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Tananarive Due, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jhumpa Lahiri and Jesmyn Ward, and poetry by Cathy Park Hong, Danez Smith, and Laili Long Soldier.
A reader’s packet will be made available to you in either an affordable print/photocopy version or PDF version. You may also choose to purchase the individual books by these authors. Details will be sent after registration.
Wednesdays, May 2-23, 2018
6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Guide: Sara Guest, Tuition: $140
Roberto Bolaño: State/Art/Violence
Date: Mondays, March 5–April 9, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m. –8:30 p.m.
Guide: Benjamin M. Ficklin, Tuition: $210
“Of what is lost, irretrievably lost, all I wish to recover is the daily availability of my writing, lines capable of grasping me by the hair and lifting me up when I’m at the end of my strength.” —Bolaño (from Antwerp)
The myth of Roberto Bolaño the person has bled into his writing and now looms large behind the tremendous breadth of his work. Born in Chile and raised in Mexico, Bolaño was a writer that undermined hierarchy with every publication. Imprisoned and labelled a terrorist after Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état established a dictatorial rule in Chile, he escaped to travel Europe, living impoverished and alienated from the continent of his birth. Bolaño’s fiction challenges political authority, identity constructs, and the preconceptions of prosaic formatting. The novels The Savage Detectives, Distant Star and Antwerp are desperate books, all looking to artists to alleviate/explore the pain perpetuated by our global society. His characters know and fear their governments; their lives act as exemplars of how to survive in a world rife with state-sanctioned violence.
Reading List: The Savage Detectives; Distant Star; and Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño
Date: Wednesdays, April 4–April 25, 2018 (four meetings)
Time: 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Guide: Lucas Bernhardt, Tuition: $140
Fourteen, a sonneteer thy praises sings;
What magic myst’ries in that number lie!
Your hen hath fourteen eggs beneath her wings
That fourteen chickens to the roost may fly.
We’ll look at what has made the sonnet such a popular and enduring form across centuries and continents, from its medieval Italian roots to its contemporary branches. In the process, we’ll give special attention to what some critics call the three great eras of the sonnet in English: the late 16th to the mid 17th centuries (including Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, and Wroth), the late 18th to mid 19th centuries (including Smith, Wordsworth, Keats, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and the modernists (Frost through Auden). For our final meeting, we’ll read contemporary sonnets and sonnet variations that may challenge longstanding notions of sonnet form.
Reading List: Sonnets, edited by John Hollander (Everyman 2001 edition). Supplemental readings to be provided.
Thomas Pynchon: Against the Day
Date: Tuesdays, April 3–May 15, 2018 (no class meeting on 5/8)
Time: 7:00–9:00 p.m.
Guide: Christopher Zinn, Tuition: $210
Published in 2006, Against the Day is the longest and most ambitious novel by one of America’s most important writers. Set in a crucial period of modern American history—between the Gilded Age (1890s) and the years following World War I— Against the Day offers a unique, expansive, and tremendously original picture of the emergence of modern America. Alongside Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) and Mason & Dixon (1997), Against the Day is clearly meant as part of a trilogy of books that together constitute a postmodern epic, an alternative history of the 20th century. Our goal in this seminar is to learn how to read this inventive, challenging, and deeply rewarding book. Previous Delve seminars on Gravity’s Rainbow and Mason & Dixon show that readers working together can discover and enjoy together the richness of Pynchon’s writing and the experience of his unique vision of our time.
Reading List: Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (2007 Penguin edition)
To Think Through Things: Writers and Artists on the Human Experience
Date: Thursdays, April 12–May 17, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Guide: Coleman Stevenson, Tuition: $225
This seminar meets at the Portland Art Museum.
“To think through things, that is the still life painter’s work—and the poet’s. Both sorts of artists require a tangible vocabulary, a worldly lexicon. A language of ideas is, in itself, a phantom language, lacking in the substance of worldly things, those containers of feeling and experience, memory and time. We are instructed by the objects that come to speak with us, those material presences. Why should we have been born knowing how to love the world? We require, again and again, these demonstrations.”
– Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon
This highly interactive Delve Seminar will meander through museum galleries and pages of books, exploring commonalities in ways poets and visual artists recreate human experience. Be it in brushstroke or print, mimesis or abstraction, there is a shared vocabulary among artists of all kinds. We will absorb this vocabulary through a multisensory examination of objects, images, and texts, and through personal engagement with works in the Portland Art Museum collections, moving us beyond museum walls into the realm of memory. We will also look at various ways text and image interact when merged into a single document, including how illustration functions as form of creative adaptation of a text, influencing our initial processing of its content.
Our texts will include Mark Doty’s Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, an assortment of poems, short fiction, and essays by modern and contemporary writers, and works of art viewed in the museum space and online. Artists and writers explored will include Agnes Martin, Tom Phillips, Jen Bervin, Edward Hopper, John Dewey, Kenneth Patchen, Lewis Carroll, Mark Rothko, Larry Levis, Joyce Carol Oates, Rilke, Auden, and many more.
Still Life with Oysters and Lemon by Mark Doty
Transforming Vision: Writers on Art (available used online)
Supplementals to be provided
Say My Name: Breaking Bad [SOLD OUT]
Date: Mondays, February 26 & March 26 & April 23, 2018 (three meetings)
Time: 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Guide: Trevor Dodge, Tuition: $105
What’s in a name? Find out in this first-of-its-kind offering, wherein Delvers will watch and discuss Breaking Bad, one of the most critically-acclaimed television series in the history of the medium. This Delve is uniquely structured, to give participants plenty of time to view multiple episodes of Breaking Bad between group meetings.
Reading/Viewing List: Breaking Bad season episodes are available via streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime; you can also purchase as DVD set on outlets such as Amazon.com
This seminar is sold out. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for waitlist inquiry.
For more about how the seminars work, please visit our About page and visit our Guides page for current bios of Delve seminar facilitators.
You can see a list of past seminars and seminar summaries here.
Learn more about Access Rate tuition and Volunteer options here.
Contact Delve Program Specialist Dao Strom at email@example.com with any questions.