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.
For our Delve seminar guides’ bios, please see the Guides page.
***JUST ADDED: NEW SPRING SEMINARS***
Refugees and Storytelling: Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West
This very special four-week Delve will have two meetings at Literary Arts, and two “field trip” meetings. Please see exact dates and details below.
“We are all refugees from our childhoods. And so we turn, among other things, to stories,” writes Mohsin Hamid in Exit West. Hamid is a Pakistani writer and author of several bestselling novels, including The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which (along with Exit West) was shortlisted for a Man Booker Prize. Exit West is the Multnomah County Library’s 2018 Everybody Reads book.
In this seminar, we’ll begin with Exit West as a literary text that blends magical realism and political commentary in a unique story about two refugees and their love. The novel will serve as our touchstone as we examine the contemporary migration and displacement crisis around the world. The special format of this seminar strives to provide Delve participants with literary discussion sessions alongside opportunities to hear a range of voices and experiences including: a short film about migration; a lecture about the history of UNHCR refugee placement in Portland; a visit to the Portland Art Museum to view and discuss “Common Ground”, Fazal Sheikh’s photography exhibit on migration and displacement; and a very special guided visit to IRCO, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, where we’ll have the opportunity to hear individual refugees’ stories of arriving in Portland, including their thoughts about Exit West.
Guides: Blair Orfall and Isatou Barry (This seminar has two co-facilitators.)
***UNIQUE FOUR-WEEK SEMINAR STRUCTURE***
Seminar Meeting Dates:
April 22, 2018, Sunday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. (seminar meeting at Literary Arts)
April 29, 2018, Sunday, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (a “field trip” to Portland Art Museum’s “Common Ground” photography exhibit by Fazal Sheikh)
May 3, 2018, Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (a visit to IRCO headquarters, Immigrant and Refugees Community Organization, to hear community stories and discussion)
May 6, 2018, Sunday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. (seminar meeting at Literary Arts)
*Special Event Tie-in: April 5, 2018, 7:30 p.m. – Everybody Reads Author Event with Mohsin Hamid at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. (Please note that the Mohsin Hamid Author Event takes place prior to the Delve seminar start date; you will be emailed ticket and logistical information after registration.)
Isatou Barry is originally from The Gambia and has lived in Portland for three years. She works with newly arrived refugee youth at Sun school sites for the Immigrant and Refugee Community’s Africa House.
Blair Orfall holds a PhD in Comparative Literature, focusing on South Asian Literature and Visual Culture and has taught for 20 years. In addition to running the Keck Interactive Learning Center at Lewis & Clark College, she works with English language learners in the community, and is a volunteer and board member with IRCO’s Africa House.
Embolden Your Reading: Today’s Voices [SOLD OUT]
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 Layli 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
This seminar is sold out. For waitlist inquiry, email Delve Program Specialist: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 [SOLD OUT]
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
Supplemental readings to be provided.
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.