The difference between being haunted and being bothered is the spatial component: a “haunting” is usually connected to a place. People can be haunted by many things, like literal ghosts, their own actions, their families, history, or the pagan past.
Few places have as rich a recorded tradition of all those forms of haunting as Great Britain and Ireland. In this group, we’ll explore the connection between memory, pain, and the land in works spanning the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons to the Troubles and beyond.
Spectred Isles meets on the third Tuesday of every month, 5-7pm. Meetings will take place on Zoom until further notice.
Tues, September 15
“The Ruin” (Old English poem, link to translation will be provided, otherwise available in Penguin Classics The Earliest English Poems)
Beowulf (Seamus Heaney translation. We’d recommend the gorgeous illustrated edition. The bilingual edition is fine if you’re more interested in facing-page translations.)
Tues, October 20
The Mabinogion (Penguin Classics): “Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed”
Early Irish Myths and Sagas (Penguin Classics): “The Wooing of Étain” and “The Dream of Aengus”
“Sir Orfeo” (Tolkien translation, usually collected with Sir Gawain. We will also share the Middle English original.)
We will send out scans of the first three stories for those who would rather not buy a book for only one or two stories. The books are very much worth having for those interested in reading further. Other translations of The Mabinogion are available as ebooks via the Athenæum on Hoopla.
Tues, November 17 |
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (The Tolkien translation is classic and has the advantage of usually being published with his translation of “Sir Orfeo.” The Penguin Classics edition is also good with plenty of helpful notes. The 2008 Simon Armitage translation got a lot of buzz when it was published, but we haven’t read it yet.)
Tues, December 15
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
“Haworth, 1904” by Virgina Woolf (essay available online)
Tues, January 19
The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy
Tues, February 16
The Great God Pan and “The White People,” Arthur Machen
Both stories are available individually as ebooks on Hoopla for Athenæum members and in the public domain (Wikisource, Internet Archive). If you prefer print books, the only single-volume Machen anthology to include both is called The Works of Arthur Machen: House of Souls, The Hill of Dreams, The Three Impostors and Other Tales of the Sacred and Profane.
Tues, March 16
The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson
Tues, April 20
North, Seamus Heaney
“The Dead,” James Joyce (part of short story connection Dubliners. Story also available individually in public domain).
Tues, May 18
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth
Tues, June 15
From Hell, Alan Moore (There is a new colorized edition subtitled “The Master Edition.” We’d recommend experiencing the original pen-and-ink version, unless that’s too hard to make sense of.)
Jonathan Migliori is a Providence native and teacher with a degree in Classics and Medieval Cultures from Brown University. When he isn’t doing this he is running RI’s hardest pub quiz, lecturing for Viking Cruises, or eating.
Bonnie Clayton is a Rhode Island native and Providence resident who graduated with a BA in English from the University of Hawaii. A former literacy instructor, she is currently doing the Devil’s work as a proofreader and copyeditor.
This group is nearing completion. Fall 2021/Spring 2022 reading groups will be announced this summer, and registration will open in July/August. Participation is reserved for Athenæum members. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.