William Faulkner was one of the most honored American authors in the 20th century, receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction and two National Book Awards. Though with all the public conversation today of race in America, it is my impression that a Faulkner book rarely is selected for a college reading list, an adult education course or a book club. I wonder why?
Faulkner’s fiction depicts life in Mississippi during both during slavery and post-emancipation segregation. The stories are often about the cruelty of White people and the suffering of African Americans. The characters use harsh and raw language rife with the N-Word. Faulkner acknowledged the “human stain” left from the South’s brutal history. He wrote “the past is not dead, it’s not even past.” Yet Faulkner, both the writer and human being, believed that there was hope for the future as he said I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.”
Since Faulkner has been too long neglected, Bob Boone and I decided to teach a course on his writing at the Oakton Community College Emeritus program in Skokie. We call the course “A Taste of Faulkner.” It will be offered on six Thursday mornings from 10:00 until 11:30, from September 19 through October 31. There will be no class on October 24. Registration begins July 8. You can register at http://www.oakton.edu/conted.
I will be teaching two literature courses, The Forsyte Saga and Chekhov’s Short Stories at the Oakton Community College Emeritus Program during the Fall 2017 semester. I will be co-teaching the Chekhov course with my friend and colleague Bob Boone. Written by Nobel Prize-winning author John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga is considered by many to be some of the best British fiction ever written and consists of three novels and two interludes. It chronicles the vicissitudes of the upper-middle class Forsyte family from late Victorian England through the aftermath of the First World War.
There is a brilliant conciseness and purposeful functionality in the characterizations and dialogues of Chekhov’s short stories that have set the bar for all writers. His carefully crafted writing resonates with honesty and compassion, allowing the readers to explore the motivations and actions of his characters. The Forsyte Saga will meet five consecutive Thursday mornings at 10:00-11:30 from October 5 through November 2; Chekhov’s Short Stories will meet six consecutive Tuesday mornings at 10:00-11:30 from October 10 through November 14. You may register online at http://www.oakton.edu/conted or call 847-982-9888.
The author Bernard Malamud is best known for two of his novels, The Natural and The Fixer, both of which were made into very successful movies. However Malamud also wrote many short stories, over the course of some forty years, which feature an amazing gamut of colorful and memorable characters, as well as compelling narrative lines. I will be teaching a course on Malamud’s short stories at Oakton Community College’s Emeritus Program beginning May 2nd. The course will consist of four ninety-minute sessions, meeting on consecutive Tuesday mornings from 10:00 to 11:30, concluding on May 23rd. For information on how to register for the course, which is called “Bernard Malamud’s Stories,” please go to http://www.oakton.edu/conted.
My class on the Man Booker Literary Prize will be starting January 10 at the Oakton Community College Emeritus program. There will be six sessions on Tuesday mornings. The final session is February 14. Here is the reading list:
In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
Registration begins on November 14.You can register online at http://www.oakton.edu/conted or by phone at 847-982-9888
I will be teaching a course on Chicago in the 1950s at the Oakton Community College Emeritus program in at the Skokie starting January 26. There is still time to enroll at http://www.oakton.edu/conted or you may call 847-982-9888. The 1950s was arguably the most transformative decade in the history of Chicago. Our class will delve into the significant cultural, political, economic and social changes which impacted the city at that time. Also, we will explore the breakthrough innovations emerging in the city during that decade which ultimately redefined the nation’s social fabric during the second half of the twentieth century. Thomas Dyja’s book, The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream, will be our major resource during this course. Classes will meet on six consecutive Tuesday mornings from 10 am until 11:30 am, ending on March 1.
James Joyce’s Ulysses is arguably the greatest novel ever written in the English language. On the surface, it is a story of Leopold Bloom, as he travels and travails through Dublin and its environs during the day of June 16, 1904. The reader soon recognizes the genius of Joyce through the book’s fantastic dialogue and cascading narrative. The marvelous cast of characters leaps forward out of Joyce’s unbridled imagination and into the reader’s mind and soul. This Fall semester, at the Oakton Community College Emeritus Program, I will be teaching a course on this often daunting, but transformative, literary masterpiece. There will be ten sessions, Tuesday mornings from 10:00 am to 11:30 am, at the Skokie campus of Oakton. The first class is September 29; the last class is December 1. Registration for the course begins in mid-July. I hope some of you decide to join us on this literary voyage. Please share this with interested friends.
In 1921,the legendary Ben Hecht began writing a daily column for the Chicago Daily News. This column named “A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago” featured fictive sketches of Chicago’s bustling urban landscape at that time. A year later, 64 of these vignettes were compiled and published as a book with the same title. Beginning Tuesday morning, this coming June 3, I will be teaching a class in the Oakton Community College Emeritus Program about Hecht and this amazing book, with its incredible stories depicting ordinary Chicagoans in ordinary situations, but in Hecht’s most extraordinary literary style. In total, there will be four classes sessions, on Tuesday mornings at the Skokie campus from 10: am until 11:30 am, concluding on June 24. For more information go to http://www.oakton.edu/conted or feel free to comment to me on this blog.