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