Delve Readers’ Seminars Testimonials
Delve is like a life line for me, I am so busy working and my world revolves so much around the little bubble I live in, that Delve gives me perspective. Literature takes me out of myself. The fact that each Delve gives me a new community is amazing. I am meeting and connecting with like-minded souls who I wouldn’t have an opportunity to get “deep” with in any other way, getting deep is what Delve is all about.
I usually don’t know what I am getting into when I start a Delve, having never studied literature before, so it’s a practice for me of open-mindedness. There is no way I can enjoy the series if I pretend like I already have it figured out, I don’t.
What I love about Delve is that after every one, and I have done nine of them, I am smarter and more prepared to examine and explain my life. That’s what great literature does and I think Delve is all about great literature and learning in the most open way. – Amy Gray
I’ve tackled books I feared and had kept away from, and books that are old favorites, in Delve seminars, and with both, Delve transforms my experience with the texts, and I enjoy and get more from them than I would have thought possible.
Working through books –whether old friends or newly encountered texts — with engaged and engaging guides and fellow Delvers, has been both profoundly educational and tremendous fun.
Delve guides are dedicated to eliciting not only each class member’s thoughts, but to bringing out the maximum in fruitful and collegial controversy, as we examine the texts. I have to use a different part of my brain from the usual professional problem-solving part, and that is a great joy.
Close reading of a text, with other dedicated students, is incredibly rewarding. I have learned so much from the discussions with guides and fellow Delvers alike, and whether I agreed with them or disagreed and had to defend my own perceptions, I came away richer for the experience. – Laura Potter
The first time I read a great artist at a table of serious readers, I was humbled and hooked…They make great company. I have to work hard to stay with them, but I smile a lot, say “wow” to myself. I love to be impressed. – Terrence Dolan
I have learned so much through the Delve seminars I’ve been lucky enough to participate in. Through Delve I’ve explored different genres of literature that I would have otherwise not examined. Each work and author I have read has exposed me to different cultures, philosophies, and ways of of life that I would not have have had the opportunity to stop and consider in my everyday life — and each exploration, each delve, has made my life richer in some way. Sometimes it’s through classic works of literature — by James Baldwin, Alice Walker, or Ralph Ellison– sometimes through more contemporary writers — the Israeli writer Etgar Kerert or Portland’s own Heidi Durrow. Either way, my life is enriched, my perspective changed, connections made, doorways opened. Delve provides inspiration, motivation, insight, and knowledge. As Portlanders, we are so lucky to have this unique and valuable program in our midst, making great literature so accessible and enjoyable. – Jessica Shulsinger
The Delve Experience by Caroline Petrich, from Literary Arts Fall 2012 newsletter
I must confess: I’ve taken fourteen Delve Readers’ Seminars, so I’m a bit unabashed in my enthusiasm for them. These unique and accessible seminars offer a satisfying complement to Portland Arts & Lectures, which has introduced me to many amazing living authors. It’s Delve, though, that brings legendary works to life. I relish discovering that they have something to say to me now, not to mention taking me on such memorable
adventures: stepping gingerly on deck around Captain Ahab, touring Hell with Dante, spending a summer day
with Leopold Bloom, and storming the Bastille with Madame DeFarge—and all in the company of fellow readers, many
of whom are now friends.
Literary Arts started Delve in 2005. The small seminars allow participants to study celebrated literary works unpinned
and outside of the scholarly glass case. Books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass,
placed within the context of the early 21st century, take on an especially potent resonance. Consider Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, which compelled my fellow Delvers and me to feel the experience of combat and how it impacts all of society, whether the theater is in Japan or Afghanistan in the War on Terror.
Delve participants digest texts slowly through six two-hour seminars held weekly, being led by a local literary
scholar who guides the discussions beyond stale review. Because of this, Delve welcomes an audience diverse
in age, profession, and familiarity of literary works. What participants share is a curiosity to know more and a desire
to read deeply, which inspires a rich exploration of—take your pick—novels, essays, plays, and poetry from the legendary greats like Homer and Milton to the modern brilliance of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace.
Occasionally I’ll see someone I think I know, like the guy at the theater recently who waved at me and, seeing my confusion, called out, “Ulysses!” Ah, yes, that Delve—nice to see you, friend! Who knows who else I’ll meet
in future seminars, traversing the world of the three Brontë sisters, getting lost in Samuel Beckett’s fiction, or
wandering around William Faulkner’s fertile Southland.