NONFICTION

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Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections, including Count the Waves (W.W. Norton), as well as the memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life (Crown). Honors for her work include an NEA Literature Fellowship; distinguished writer residencies at Wichita State University, Cornell College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, and the University of Mississippi; and four D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowships. She is on the faculty of the University of Tampa’s low-residency MFA program, and periodically teaches at The American University.  She is also the editor of Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance (University of Georgia Press).
Join author Sandra Beasley to discuss Carolyn Forché’s memoir of travel to El Salvador, 1978-80, that forged Forché's identity as an activist and poet. Our discussion will focus not only on Forché’s personal journey, but her formidable lyric craft even when working in prose.  Wednesday, April 1, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.Online Class

POLITICS & PLACE

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Heba F. El-Shazli is an Egyptian-American and an avid lover and reader of literature from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She is an assistant professor of political science at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Master’s Degree Program at the Center for Democracy and Civil Society. Heba teaches courses on governments and politics of the Middle East and North Africa, Islam and politics, international relations, and the role of civil society and social movements in democratization. She has a Ph.D. in Government and International Affairs from Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs and a Master’s degree from Georgetown University. She was the Director of MENA programs at the Solidarity Center (2004-2011) and the Deputy MENA Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) from 2001 until 2004. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (www.cfr.org)

This is another in the series of classes on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to delve into the heart and soul of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through its authors plus a non-fiction work by a distinguished expert on the Kingdom’s history and politics and its relationship with the U.S. We will explore Saudi Arabia’s history, politics and society through one non-fiction book plus novels by Saudi men and women. Five Fridays: January 31; February 14 and 28; March 27, and April 3 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

With

Heba F. El-Shazli is an Egyptian-American and an avid lover and reader of literature from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She is an assistant professor of political science at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Master’s Degree Program at the Center for Democracy and Civil Society. Heba teaches courses on governments and politics of the Middle East and North Africa, Islam and politics, international relations, and the role of civil society and social movements in democratization. She has a Ph.D. in Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) with a specialization in Governance and International Affairs from Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs and a Master’s degree from Georgetown University. She was the Director of MENA programs at the Solidarity Center (2004-2011) and the Deputy MENA Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) from 2001 until 2004. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (www.cfr.org)

This is another class in the series on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to delve into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s contemporary history, politics, and society via non-fiction and novels to better understand the country and its people. Five Fridays: April 17, May 8 and 22, June 5 and 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

WRITING

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John DeDakis  is a novelist, writing coach, and former editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." DeDakis is the author of five mystery-suspense novels. His fourth novel, Bullet in the Chamber, is the winner of Reviewers Choice, Foreword INDIES, and Feathered Quill book awards. In his most recent novel, Fake, protagonist Lark Chadwick is a White House correspondent trying to walk the line between personal feelings and dispassionate objectivity in the era of “fake news” and #MeToo. Website: www.johndedakis.com

Join former CNN editor and award-winning novelist John DeDakis in a day-long workshop that provides a birds-eye view of all the moving parts involved in the novel-writing process. April 4th, 6, and 7, from noon to 2:30 p.m.

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Sarah Pleydell & Michaele Weissman

Sarah Pleydell is a writer, teacher and actor. Until recently she was a senior lecturer in University Honors at the University of Maryland where she taught creative writing, literature and humanities. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novel “Cologne and “The Dramatic Difference”, an award-winning book in the field of arts integration. Visit her website at www.sarahpleydell.com

 

Michaele Weissman is a journalist, author and teacher long associated with New Directions, a Washington-based writing program for psychotherapists from which she graduated and where she co-teaches with Sarah Pleydell. The author of three

books and innumerable articles, Weissman writes about food, families and history. Her most recent book, “God in a Cup,” is a narrative for which she followed three young coffee buyers around the world. You can sample her work at: www.michaeleweissmanwrites.com

Join novelist Sarah Pleydell and author Michaele Weissman in a continuation of their fall workshop helping writers access the inner landscapes where imagery resides. The teachers’ approach is playful, but their purpose is serious: to help writers overcome their fears of insufficiency, and, in so doing, produce work that is more alive and original. Three Sundays: April 19, 26 and May 3 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Class will be offered online.

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Aaron Hamburger is the author of the short story collection The View From Stalin’s Head (winner of the Rome Prize in Literature), the novel Faith for Beginners (a Lambda Literary Award nominee), and the novel Nirvana is Here. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Subtropics, Details, O, the Oprah Magazine, Boulevard, and The Village Voice. He has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy, as well as residencies from Yaddo and Djerassi. He has also taught writing at Columbia University, NYU, the Stonecoast MFA Program, and George Washington University.

In this workshop, participants will examine how to tell stories based on autobiographical material, whether in the form of a memoir or work of fiction. Writers will consider issues like the limits of memory, our responsibility to our subjects who may read our work, and research to embellish our stories and make them come alive. Fiction and creative non-fiction writers may submit their work for peer critique. Three Tuesdays: May 19, 26 and June 2, from 6 to 8 p.m.

POETRY

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Frank Ambrosio is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. After studies in Italian language and literature in Florence, Italy, he completed his doctoral degree at Fordham University with a specialization in contemporary European Philosophy.

He is the founding Director, with Edward Maloney, of the Georgetown University “My Dante Project” a web based platform for personal and collaborative study of Dante’s Commedia. In 2014, he acted as lead instructor for the launch of an ongoing web-based course (MOOC) on Dante offered by EDX (http://dante.georgetown.edu) which currently has been utilized by over 20,000 students.

His most recent book is Dante and Derrida: Face to Face, (State University of New York Press) (Link)

He has received five separate awards from Georgetown University for excellence in teaching. He is the former Director of the Doctor of Liberal Studies Program, and in 2015, he received the Award for Faculty Achievement from the American Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs.

In October 2009, The Teaching Company released his course, "Philosophy, Religion and the Meaning of Life," (https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/philosophy-intellectual-history/philosophy-religion-and-the-meaning-of-life.html) a series of 36 half-hour video lectures which he created for the "Great Courses" series. At Georgetown, he teaches courses on Existentialism, Postmodernism, Hermeneutics, and Dante.

In addition to his work at Georgetown, he co-directs The Renaissance Company with Deborah R. Warin, leading adult study programs focusing on Italian Renaissance culture and its contemporary heritage. http://www.renaissancecompany.com/

The Divine Comedy offers us the most familiar, yet most mysterious of all spectacles: the human journey through the full cycle of life and death. Frank Ambrosio, director of Georgetown University’s My Dante Project, lays out a roadmap that enables participants to experience the Comedy as Dante intended: a journey of his self-discovery, both terrible and sublime, set in a landscape as varied as the array of unforgettable characters who reside there. For readers, it can be a rewarding journey of personal discovery. Six Tuesdays: March 10, (skip March 17), 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21 from 6:30 p.m.to 8:30 p.m.

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Christopher Griffin is from Yeats country in County Galway.  He studied at Trinity College and University College in Dublin. He taught courses in Irish literature at George Washington University for eight years and at Politics and Prose for over 25 years.  He was a study leader on 18 Smithsonian Journeys and lectured for Smithsonian Associates.  He has taught this popular Heaney class at Politics and Prose many times before.

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) won the Nobel Prize for Literature and has been among the most beloved of modern poets. Since his 1965 “Digging,” the first poem in Death of a Naturalist, Heaney has been among the most read poets in English. He has articulated experiences from his vivid childhood sensations on a Derry farm to his explorations of political tensions in Northern Ireland. Five consecutive Fridays of April 17, 24, May 1, 8, and 15, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Online Class.

FICTION

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Helen Hooper, a fiction writer, was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has published stories in American Short Fiction, The Common, The Hopkins Review, Bellevue Literary Review and elsewhere. She was MacDowell Colony fellow, a Kenyon Review Peter Taylor fellow and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BA from Johns Hopkins. She has taught literature and creative writing at Stanford and other universities and at the middle and high school levels. She is now writing a novel.

Let’s get into Jenny Offill’s “Weather,” the latest acerbic, pithy novel from the modern master of comic soulfulness.  The award-winner author of “Department of Speculation” is back to wrangle family and climate crises in what the New York Times calls “sly, burnished fragments.” Reading Offill is like hanging out with your sharpest, quirkiest friend. Tuesday, May 5, 2020 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

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Leigha McReynolds has a PhD in English Literature. Her dissertation was on science and the supernatural in 19th Century British Literature, but her current research focus is contemporary science fiction. Leigha is a professor in the writing program at The George Washington University where she uses science fiction to engage students across disciplines. In addition to teaching, she runs a writing coaching business to help aspiring writers of all kinds achieve their personal and professional goals.

Dystopian fiction is written as social critique. Classic dystopias persist because they speak beyond their historical moment to universal questions about humanity and civilization. Join this class for a guided reading of Brave New World, 1984, and The Female Man. Three Wednesdays: April 22, 29, and May 6, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Nicole Miller's prize-winning essays have appeared recently in New Letters and Arts & Letters magazines. Her fiction has been published twice in The Mays, edited by Jill Paton Walsh and Sebastian Faulks. She received an M.Phil. in Victorian Literature from Lincoln College, Oxford; a PhD in English at University College, London; and an MFA at Emerson College, Boston, where she held the Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. At The Oxford English Dictionary, she has served as a scholarly reader for British Dialects since 2002. She edits faculty manuscripts in Harvard’s English Department and teaches nineteenth and twentieth century British literature at Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.

The Magic Mountain was a symphony of word and image; Thomas Mann had succeeded in orchestrating two thousand years of myth, art, music, philosophy, religion, psychology and science, starting with Homer and ending with Einstein. As a novel constructed around systems of symbol and counterpoint, Mann recommended that The Magic Mountain be read twice—first for story and second for the layers of meaning, intricate leitmotifs, allusions, and themes. Eight Thursdays: March 12, 19, 26, April 2, April 9 (3:30-5:30 p.m.), 16, 23, and May 7 (3:30-5:30 p.m.) Except where noted meets from 2 to 4 p.m. Make-up dates will be announced.

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Virginia Newmyer has lectured frequently for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and in Great Britain on a wide variety of topics in British history and literature. She also teaches OLLI courses at American University, as well as at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and Jupiter.

Dr. Susan Willens, emerita professor of English at George Washington University, also teaches at the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and other literature classes.

For 15 years, Virginia and Susan have been holding classes at Politics and Prose that examine the threads that join British fiction and history.

This course examines World War II through the broad lens of European fiction. In five novels, Willens and Newmyer will explore the ways in which characters manage their lives under threats so dire that some respond with unexpected heroism, others resigned to tragedy. The books are The Great Fortune (1960) and The Spoilt City, by Olivia Manning; Atonement (2001), by Ian McEwen; Life after Life (2013), by Kate Atkinson; and All the Light We Cannot See (2014) by Anthony Doerr. Note: April dates are postponed.

With

Brittany Kerfoot holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Her writing has been published in The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, Driftwood Press, Madcap Review, and Eventbrite.com, among others. She is the Partnered Events Manager at Politics and Prose, a college English professor at her alma mater, and at work on her first novel.

Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel gives us the story of young Tita, who longs for her lover, Pedro, but her mother has forbidden their love. With elements of magical realism and the supernatural sprinkled throughout, this other-worldly novel is both a classic love story and a tale of family and tradition. Tuesday, May 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

With

Helen Hooper, a fiction writer, was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has published stories in American Short Fiction, The Common, The Hopkins Review, Bellevue Literary Review and elsewhere. She was MacDowell Colony fellow, a Kenyon Review Peter Taylor fellow and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BA from Johns Hopkins. She has taught literature and creative writing at Stanford and other universities and at the middle and high school levels. She is now writing a novel.

 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Women in Love, the second of D.H. Lawrence’s linked novels about three generations of the Brangwen family, especially two sisters: Ursula and Gundrun. The first novel, The Rainbow, had been banned and confiscated as obscene. Together, these books form Lawrence’s masterpiece, establishing him as a giant of English literature and modernist icon. Let’s read them together. The class meets over six alternating Thursday nights : Feb. 13, 27 Mar. 12, 26, (skip Apr. 9), 16, and 30 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Make up dates to be announced.
 

HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY

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Scott Patrick is a recent PhD graduate from American University with a concentration in comparative politics. His research interests include critical theory, global political economy, and the intersection of power and politics with culture and the social construction of ideas, norms, and values.

In this course we will study and discuss the national bestseller How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr. The book provides a look into the United States’ overseas empire, which elides conventional conceptions of formal colonial subjects and territorial acquisitions. Three Thursdays: March 5, April 2, and April 9th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Online Class.