In the first year of this new reading group at the Providence Athenaeum we will meet monthly to explore close readings of three major nineteenth-century novels: Dickens’ Bleak House, Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, and Henry James’ The Golden Bowl. The seminar will proceed as a directed discussion guided by the interests of the group rather than as a formal course, although occasional ‘mini-lectures’ will be offered. All readers are welcome, whether or not they have read these works before. As we read, participants will be encouraged to explore their particular interests, whether they be social, historical, aesthetic or otherwise. Specific secondary readings will be suggested on request.
The group will be facilitated by Dr. Rhoda Flaxman, who holds a Ph.D. from Brown University in English and American Literature, and taught at Wheaton College(1979-1987) and Brown University (1987- 2007). She is particularly interested in nineteenth-century British art and literature and the “new formalism,” and she has published Victorian Word-Painting and Narrative: Toward the Blending of Genres. Since 2007 she has taught applied humanities courses at the RISD Museum, the Athenaeum, and at Preservation Hall in Wellfleet.
Meeting Schedule and Assignments:
The reading group will meet from 5:30-7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month, with a change of date in December, as follows:
Sept. 12; Oct. 10; Nov. 14; Dec.5 (note change of date);
Jan. 9; Feb. 13; Mar.13; April 10; May 8.
We will discuss each of our three novels this year for three months between September and June. Participants are asked to buy the following preferred editions:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens ( Norton Critical Edition, 1977).
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot with Introduction by Earl Dachslager (Barnes and Noble Classic,2009).
The Golden Bowl by Henry James with Introduction by Ruth Bernard Yeazell (Penguin Classics Paperback, 2005).
Assignments for Bleak House are:
Sept. 12: Chapters I through XXII (pages 3-284)
Oct. 10: Chapters XXIII through XLII (pages 284-520)
Nov. 14: Chapters XLII through LXVII (pages 520-767)
Dec. 5, Jan. 9, Feb. 13: Daniel Deronda (TBA)
Mar. 13, Apr.10, May 8: The Golden Bowl (TBA)
Note: The goal of our group discussions will be to create a collegial atmosphere in which everyone has a chance to offer their ideas and reactions to these wonderfully rich texts. With that goal in mind, participants are requested to come to seminar prepared to read out a passage they like, thereby helping to shape discussion to everyone’s interests, and allow us to examine not only what is said but how it’s said, and what doesn’t make sense in the text.