Viernes 18 de febrero


In our next class we will focus on letters – letters as a theme, and letters as form. For a long time, letters played a critical role in public, social and private communication accompanied by their own conventions and language. As a literary form, the epistolary narrative offers a range of possibilities for plot, characterization and voice. Since the great popularity achieved by writers such as Richardson and Goldsmith, the form has occupied a secure place in fiction, as demonstrated by the short story examples for this week’s reading. In poetry a tradition stretches from the didactic epistles of Greek authors to the private lyric verse of several 20th and 21st century writers.
But letters have a significance for individuals, they form a parallel narrative to lives and loves as they are experienced and thus the theme of letters is itself a rich source of ideas. Whether or not the form – or theme – can adapt to the changes ushered in by social media is open for debate and is one of several issues we can discuss on Friday 18th.

Viernes 11 de marzo

Genre Variations

For our next session I’ve chosen the theme of ‘genre variations,’ with a particular focus on popular genres, especially these usually considered to be of less ‘literary’ value – a judgment – often from academic sources – that has thankfully receded in recent years as many writers have explored the possibilities these genres have for contemporary audiences. Detective, fables, bestiarty, gothic, sci-fi, social realism, ghost and horror stories – It is how – and why – writers adapt, redirect or subvert these forms that raises fascinating questions about text and reader, especially when the conventions have become so ingrained in our way of reading that we barely stop to question what we expect or how we respond.

I hope you enjoy the selection and look forward to sharing our ideas on the 11th.

Viernes 25 de marzo

The relationship between literature and cinema

The long-standing relationship between literature and cinema raises diverse questions about how they influence and shape one another. Many films are, of course, based on books, and some books have been inspired by, or based on films. The scrupulously accurate No Country for Old Men is in stark contrast to the ‘adaptation’ of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What does this tell us about how the forms interact? Cinema is also a source of theme for stories and novels and we will look at some examples. Overall, the session is intended as an opportunity to comment on ideas the texts suggest. If at all possible, popcorn will be provided. I hope you enjoy the texts and look forward to seeing you on the 25th.

I hope you enjoy the selection and look forward to sharing our ideas on the 11th.

Viernes 8 de abril

What can we know of any human heart? (A loose paraphrase of a comment made by Henry James.) What can we know of our own?

Whether defined as otherness, alienation, dislocation, empathy or imaginative recognition, the spaces between a sense of self and the worlds we inhabit (or fabricate) with and though others is a constant focus of novels, stories and poetry. In this session we will read a series of texts reflecting aspects of this theme, whether represented as disturbing, uncanny, hopeful, comic or puzzling.

Perhaps literature offers one the best ways of – if not understanding – at least feeling we can come close toanother human heart.

I hope you enjoy the texts.

Viernes 29 de abril

Darkness visible and the perils of illumination

The texts for our next session loosely share a common interest in revelation, truth, innocence and the nature of obscurity. They approach these themes in a variety of ways, from the comic to the uncanny, the poetic to the bizarre. I hope you find them interesting and look forward to sharing our ideas when we meet on 29th.

Viernes 6 de mayo

Imaginary friends and the unfriendly imagination.

The working title of this week’s session is ‘Imaginary friends and the unfriendly imagination.’ It’s a topic we have touched on in past sessions in stories by Truman Capote, Rose Tremain and Alison Lurie, for example. This week’s selection shows how fiction is a source of creativity and possibility but also the breeding ground of fear and alienation. The stories foreground how imaginative possibilities reveal different ways of acting on the perception of self, reality and our relationships to others.

There are five texts but they are not very long!

I hope you enjoy them and look forward to seeing you on Friday.

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