We will meet to discuss Catch-22 by Joseph Heller on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. in room 2609 1550.

From Wiki:

Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. It is set during World War II from 1942 to 1944. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century.  It uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the point of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so that the timeline develops along with the plot.

The novel follows Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp. It focuses on their attempts to keep their sanity in order to fulfill their service requirements so that they may return home.

The phrase “Catch-22″ has entered the English language, referring to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle.



We will meet to discuss One of Ours by Willa Cather on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 1550.

“Willa Cather’s novel, One of Ours chronicles the life of Claude Wheeler, a Colorado man desperate to make more of his life than becoming a farmer like his prosperious father, or a businessman like his older brother. Claude believes a wife, Enid, will settle his soul and give him purpose. But, when Enid goes to China to tend to her ailing sister, Claude goes back to suffering through what he feels is a meaningless existence. However, as soon as World War I becomes a tangible reality for the United States, Claude cannot think of anything better to do with himself than go immediately to a training camp and enlist. After camp, Claude leaves for France, where Claude gains a sense of himself.

One of Ours is gorgeously written. Cather artfully weaves her use of an extensive vocabulary into her calculated prose. As always, Cather describes the land surrounding her characters with such vivid imagery that the characters become a part of the landscape from which they are created. Cather provides the reader with a touching account of a young man forming his identity and discovering his place in the world. The story is honest and consistent and a pleasure to read from the first word to the last!”

from www.examiner.com


Please join us on Wednesday May 21, 2014 when we discuss The Aspern Papers by Henry James.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 1560.

From Wiki -

The Aspern Papers is a novella written by Henry James, originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1888, with its first book publication later in the same year. One of James’ best-known and most acclaimed longer tales, The Aspern Papers is based on the letters Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Mary Shelley’s step sister, Claire Clairmont, who saved them until she died.  Set in Venice, The Aspern Papers demonstrates James’ ability to generate suspense while never neglecting the development of his characters.

The full text of The Aspern Papers can be found on http://www.gutenberg.org/files/211/211-h/211-h.htm and an audio version at https://archive.org/details/aspernpapers_0907_librivox.

Please join us on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 when we discuss The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 2140.  This is the selection for the Annual Great Books Student Symposium which will be held May 1, 2014 at Wilbur Wright College.  Good luck to all the participants.

From Wiki:

The “Great American Novel” is the concept of a novel that is distinguished in both craft and theme as being the most accurate representation of the spirit of the age in the United States at the time of its writing or in the time it is set. It is presumed to be written by an American author who is knowledgeable about the state, culture, and perspective of the common American citizen. The author uses the literary work to identify and exhibit the language used by the American people of the time and to capture the unique American experience, especially as it is perceived for the time. In historical terms, it is sometimes equated as being the American response to the national epic.

Prof. Donovan Braud has provided the following questions to ponder:

1.   In The Great Gatsby, which is arguably an intermediate text between realism and modernism, Fitzgerald uses a first person narrator that is not the protagonist as well as secondary characters to supply background information about Gatsby. Why does Fitzgerald do this? What does his narrative technique say about identity in the modern period?

2. The Great Gatsby discusses the changing nature of class mobility in America but also introduces elements of race and gender. Using one example (class, race, or gender) show how Gatsby critiques traditional social structures based on these identity categories.

3.  The Great Gatsby is arguably a text about texts – Gatsby as a fictional character in the “real” world of the text. What does Gatsby hope to achieve by rewriting himself? “Daisy” is not acceptable for this prompt – too obvious.

Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.

Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.

“Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.”


Please join us on Wednesday March 26, 2014 when we discuss The Life of Henry V by William Shakespeare.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 2140.

“Henry V is a study of kingship, patriotism, and heroic determination, tempered by tender comedy as Henry courts Katherine, Princess of France.

Henry, the noble and courageous young king of England, decides to invade France, to the throne of which he believes he has a rightful claim.  At Agincourt he leads his army into battle against the powerful French forces and, against all the odds, wins a famous victory.”  ~~ Complete Arkangel Shakespeare

At the Folger website, there is the following visual character/relationship chart.  Please also see the Shakespeare Resource Center for everything Henry V.

It has been suggested we view the 1989 film production of Henry V starring Kenneth Branagh.  Here is a short clip from YouTube.

Please join us on Wednesday February 26, 2014 when we discuss Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 2140.

From The Literature Network:

With a new kind of heroine defiantly virtuous, morally courageous and fiercely independent, Charlotte Brontë brought about change in the style of fiction of the day, presenting an unconventional woman to be admired for her ability to overcome adversity. From her humble beginnings as an orphan under the care of a cruel aunt, governess Jane Eyre falls in love with her mercurial employer, the Byronic Edward Rochester. But then dark secrets of Thornfield Hall threaten to destroy everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. First published under her pseudonym Currer Bell, Charlotte’s famous Gothic romance attracted much public attention. People wanted to know who this new and talented writer was. It was highly lauded by such authors as William Makepeace Thackeray, and has since inspired numerous adaptations for television and film, and numerous other author’s works including Jean Rhys’ ‘prequel’ Wide Sargasso Sea (1966).

On Wednesday, January 22, 2014 we will meet to discuss The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson with an Introduction By Conrad Aiken (by Modern Library New York published by Random House).  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 3601  2140.

Find this moving?

If I can stop one Heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.

Then grab your Index of First Lines, preferably the aforementioned book, and join us on the 22′nd of January.   Please check back after Winter Break for a listing of themes/specific poems to be covered.

Have you heard this before but didn’t know its origin?

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – Too?
Then there’s a pair of us?
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog -
To tell one’s name -  the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

~~  Emily Dickinson


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