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Registration now closed

City Novels (Rescheduled on Zoom!)

A Mini-Course Offered by the NU Emeriti Organization and EPL

2020-05-27 16:00:00 2020-05-27 18:00:00 America/Chicago City Novels (Rescheduled on Zoom!) Main Library

Wednesday, May 27
4:00pm - 6:00pm

Add to Calendar 2020-05-27 16:00:00 2020-05-27 18:00:00 America/Chicago City Novels (Rescheduled on Zoom!) Four important and well-known 19th-century city novels set in Paris, London, and Chicago will be examined to analyze and understand their socio-historical import. Main Library

Four important and well-known 19th-century city novels set in Paris, London, and Chicago will be examined to analyze and understand their socio-historical import.

In these two sessions, we will discuss the link between social mobility, the growth of the modern city, and the realist novel form, as well as examine the double myth of the city as the site of infinite opportunities and/or the site of temptation and ruin.

Week 1 (Wednesday, May 20, 4:00 - 6:00 pm): Walking the city: Spatial and social mobility in Balzac’s Old Goriot and Dickens’s Oliver Twist

Week 2 (Wednesday, May 27, 4:00 - 6:00 pm): The metaphor of the city in Hugo’s Les Misérables and Dreiser’s Sister Carrie

Your instructor is Michal Peled Ginsburg, Professor Emerita of French and Comparative Literature at Northwestern. Professor Ginsburg is a past Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, former chair of the Department of French and Italian, and former director of Northwestern's Program in Comparative Literary Studies.

For obvious reasons, this course will not provide close readings of any of the four novels to be discussed--which total over 2500 pages. Familiarity with the novels’ plots, such as can be gained from filmic adaptations, should enable you to follow the lectures without difficulty. All four novels have been adapted to the screen and several of these adaptations are available on various platforms, including several available for streaming through Evanston Public Library or YouTube. If you have the time to read, the longest and by far the most challenging novel is Hugo’s Les Misérables. Oliver Twist and Sister Carrie are more or less the same length; Sister Carrie is an easier read. The shortest novel is Balzac’s Old Goriot; once you get through the first 40 pages, which are mostly descriptive, you should find the plot dramatic and engaging.

Please note these special instructions:

1.) Note that this mini-course has been rescheduled AND moved online. Registration is required but there is no longer a waitlist: come one, come all!  

2.) Note that the class now meets from 4 to 6 p.m., rather than the evening hours originally announced when the class was still meeting at the Library.

3.) Instructions for logging in will be sent to everyone registered as the date approaches. 

4.) These four novels are available as ebooks from Evanston Public Library, as are some of the film versions.

5.) With questions call EPL Reference at 847-448-8630 or contact

This free non-credit mini-course is offered as a collaboration between Evanston Public Library and the Northwestern Emeriti Organization (NEO).

AGE GROUP: | Adults |

EVENT TYPE: | Authors & Book Discussions |

TAGS: | |

Main Library

Phone: (847)448-8600
Branch manager
Karen Danczak Lyons, Director

Mon, Jun 01 9:00AM to 9:00PM
Tue, Jun 02 9:00AM to 9:00PM
Wed, Jun 03 9:00AM to 9:00PM
Thu, Jun 04 9:00AM to 9:00PM
Fri, Jun 05 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Sat, Jun 06 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Sun, Jun 07 12:00PM to 6:00PM

About the library

The Main library is an epicenter of information and the various forms of literacy. Its assets expand beyond books, audiobooks and DVDs to include public Internet stations and building-wide Wi-Fi, arts performances and displays, author presentations, financial and immigration programs, and much more. The Main Library is the primary focus of our absolute and continuous commitment to meeting the diverse expectations and needs of Evanston residents.

Upcoming events

Mon, Jun 01, All day

Mon, Jun 01, All day
Registration is now closed

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Sat, Jun 06, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Sat, Jun 06, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Mon, Jun 08, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

Tue, Jun 09, 4:00pm - 5:00pm

Sat, Jun 13, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Sat, Jun 13, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Mon, Jun 15, 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Mon, Jun 15, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

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Tue, Jun 16, 11:00am - 12:30pm

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Thu, Jun 18, 11:00am - 1:00pm

Thu, Jun 18, 3:00pm - 4:30pm

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Tue, Jun 23, 4:00pm - 5:00pm

Wed, Jun 24, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

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Wed, Jul 01, All day