My Course on Ulysses Starts September 26

I will once again be teaching James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Oakton College Emeritus program in Skokie beginning Wednesday afternoon beginning September 26. The campus is located at 7701 North Lincoln Avenue. The class is from 1:30 to 3:30 and runs nine consecutive Wednesdays through November 21. Ulysses is arguably the greatest novel ever written in the English language. Admittedly, the reader is intellectually challenged by the book. But it is well worth the effort. On the surface, it is primarily a story of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus and their travels and travails through Dublin and its environs during the day and evening of June 16, 1904. The book concludes with Molly Bloom’s unforgettable soliloquy. The reader soon recognizes the genius of Joyce through the novel’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. I hope that some of you will consider taking this course, and feel free to share this information with others who may have interest. Registration can be done online at http://www.oakton.edu/conted or by phone at 847-982-9888.

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My James Joyce Courses Next Fall

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I will be teaching two courses on the writings of James Joyce during the fall semester at the Oakton Community College Emeritus Program. The first focuses on The Dubliners, a collection of short stories, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a novel of self-discovery. This course runs six weeks on Tuesday mornings; beginning on October 18 and ending November 22, and starting at 10 and ending at 11:30.
My Ulysses course is Tuesday afternoon; also beginning on October 18 and goes for ten weeks through December 20, starting at 12:00 and ending at 2:00. Ulysses is arguably the greatest novel ever written in the English language.
Please consider enrolling and be sure to share this with friends who might be interested. You can register online by visiting http://www.oakton.edu/conted.

On Teaching Joyce’s Ulysses

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The past few years I had been mulling over whether I should teach a course on James Joyce’s Ulysses. During the last four years, I have been a humanities instructor at the Oakton Community College Emeritus program, which offers non-credit continuing education courses to, as the promotional brochures say, “students who weren’t born yesterday.”
I have taught courses on the short stories of Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud and Joseph Epstein, as well the newspaper columns of Ben Hecht and Mike Royko. I expanded my literary boundaries a bit by offering on what turned out to be a highly successful class on the Man Booker Literary Prize winning novels. But Joyce’s Ulysses would definitely pose my greatest teaching challenge.
I never doubted my expertise to teach the book. I had read it three times prior to my taking a course on the book with Steve Diedrich at the Newberry Library in 2007 which for me was a major breakthrough in my understanding of the text. Steve also emceed the Bloomsday readings at the Cliff Dwellers, and I soon became an annual attendee at that event. In 2009 I spent an intensive and highly educational Bloomsday in Dublin.
So last May the powers-to-be in the Emeritus program approved my proposal to teach Joyce’s Ulysses this fall. I would offer ten weekly sessions; each session being ninety minutes. I needed a minimum of ten students to enroll in the course. I truly worried that the perceived difficulty of the book would scare potential students away.
But to my pleasant surprise seventeen students enrolled. Then after the first class I was concerned that some students might drop out. One did, after the second class. The other sixteen remained, and fourteen had perfect attendance and two just missed one session.
It was a remarkable group of students. They were thoroughly engaged in the process of trying to understand the complicated structure and the textured cascading narrative of the book. My approach to teaching the course was similar to Steve’s, which meant that roughly 80% of the time in class was reading and explicating the text on my part, with the rest of the time answering the questions and the concerns of the students.
As I read out loud the final emphatic “Yes” of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy to conclude the book and course, the class spontaneously applauded. We had collectively finished a challenging literary voyage, the tide of words a bit choppy at times, but in the end we all felt the kind of joy and satisfaction that great literature can elicit in our hearts and minds.