MEMOIR

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Mathina Calliope is a writer, teacher, editor, and writing coach living in Arlington, VA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Outside, Longreads, HuffPost, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. She is working on a memoir, Pay Dirt: Backpacking in Search of the Courage to Be Broke. Learn more: www.mathinacalliope.com

Learn what it takes to turn a decent draft about an interesting experience into a powerful personal essay that will resonate with readers in such a way that they feel enriched, even changed, for having read it. We'll explore crucial elements of personal writing—craft, authenticity, and voice—via lecture, example, practice, and feedback. In addition to the feedback of your peers on your writing, you'll receive detailed commentary from me. Each student will submit a piece of writing up to 1,500 words; you will take turns providing feedback to each other.  Four Saturdays: Sept 21, 28, Oct 5, 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  AT OUR UNION MARKET LOCATION

POETRY

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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).

Stuck in a poetry rut? Get excited about the physical world around us, and the ways that world can manifest in your writing. We’ll use a trio of themes—animals, travel, and food—to spark poems full of bright imagery and strong verbs. The class will feature close reading and craft discussion of exemplar poems, as well as guided prompts for post-workshop writing. Students may bring in two drafts of their choosing for in-class critique. Three Fridays: October 4, 11, 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

With

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).

Each year, The Best American Poetry showcases themes and trends embraced by today’s poets. In this session, we’ll discuss poems from the 2019 edition, guest edited by Major Jackson. Along the way, we'll raise larger questions about the making of anthologies and the craft of contemporary poetry. No advance preparation is required. Monday, November 18, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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Annie Finch is the author or editor of more than twenty books of poetry and poetics. Her books for poets and poetry lovers include A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry, Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters, An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and The Body of Poetry. Finch holds a BA from Yale and a Ph.D from Stanford, has taught and lectured widely, and has received the Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for her lifetime contribution to the art and craft of versification. Her poetry has been performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installed in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and published in Poetry, Paris Review, The New York Times, and The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.

Join acclaimed poet, editor, and translator and beloved poetry teacher Annie Finch in savoring the intoxicating power of poetry in meter. Three Thursdays: November 7, 14, 21 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

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Gigi Bradford is chair of the Folger Shakespeare Library Poetry Board and former Literature Director of the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been teaching the Poetry Circle at Politics and Prose since 2006.

Join us this fall as we read America’s two most influential and revolutionary poets: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. As different as they are from each other, Whitman and Dickinson define the spiritual outlines of our literature. Whitman captures and reflects a limitless American landscape, upending orthodoxy to posit a soul reflected by and equal to its body. Dickinson writes feverishly about immortality and the singular distance between daily experience and the eternal soul. The poetry written by each is instantly recognizable. Neither have successful imitators, though both have influenced generations. Each writes in a voice that sounds like no other, and each is indelibly made by the American experience, specifically the Civil War. Whitman is prolix, Dickinson cryptic. Every American poet since has been influenced by these poetic giants. Six Tuesdays October 15, 22, 29, November 5, 12, 19, 3:00—4:30 p.m. *SOLD OUT*

With

Annie Finch is the author or editor of more than twenty books of poetry and poetics. Her books for poets and poetry lovers include A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry, Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters, An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and The Body of Poetry. Finch holds a BA from Yale and a Ph.D from Stanford, has taught and lectured widely, and has received the Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for her lifetime contribution to the art and craft of versification. Her poetry has been performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installed in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and published in Poetry, Paris Review, The New York Times, and The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.

Join acclaimed poet, editor, and translator and beloved poetry teacher Annie Finch for a reading and writing journey through the most iconic poetic stanzas in English. No previous poetry experience is necessary to join this intensive, hands-on poetry writing workshop. Four Wednesdays: November 6, 13, 20, 27 from 3-5:30 p.m.

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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.

Readers and critics alike almost universally praise Dante's Paradiso for the sublimity of its poetry, but sublimity comes at a price. Trying to imagine ourselves toward the outermost limits of human hope at the brink of real Mystery is beyond our capacity as earth-bound pedestrians. Dante had the same experience and his greatness lies in never forgetting that poetry's task is give human beings wings. Do give it a try, especially if you have walked the walk with the pilgrim thus far!  Five Tuesdays: November 19, 26, December 3, 10, 17, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

NONFICTION

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Supriya Goswami teaches courses in world literature (with special focus on Africa and South Asia), culture, and politics at Georgetown University. She has previously taught courses in children’s literature, postcolonial literature, and British literature and Empire at California State University, Sacramento and at George Washington University. She is the author of Colonial India in Children’s Literature (Routledge, 2012), which is the first book-length study to explore the intersections of British, Anglo-Indian, and Bengali children’s literature and defining historical moments in colonial India. She is currently working on her second book, Colonial Wars in Children’s Literature. She has also published in such scholarly journals as the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, South Asian Review, and Wasafiri.

Born a Crime is The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s fast-paced, touching, and humorous memoir about his boyhood days in South Africa. In this class, we will explore Trevor Noah’s witty and poignant account of his extraordinary and subversive childhood, shaped by the absurdities of apartheid, in the townships and suburbs of Johannesburg. Born a Crime is a must-read; not just because it is a remarkable personal story of survival laced with Noah’s characteristic wit, but also because it is a vivid and vital account of the tumultuous dying days of apartheid. Thursday, October 24th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

With

Alyce Miller is the award-winning writer of four books of fiction and one book of nonfiction, and more than 250 personal essays, short stories, poems, articles, book chapters and reviews. She is professor emerita from Indiana University-Bloomington where she taught for 21 years in the graduate creative writing program and English department, winning several teaching awards. She is also an attorney with strong interests in social justice and animal law.

Does romance belong only to the young? Join author and professor emerita Alyce Miller for a lively, provocative, and in-depth discussion of Susan Gubar’s gorgeous and deeply moving new memoir, Late-Life Love. Sunday, December 1, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

FICTION

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Elaine Showalter is Professor Emerita of English and Avalon Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, where she taught courses in English and American fiction.  She has written ten  books, most recently The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography ( Simon &Schuster, 2016), and regularly reviews and writes  for  the New  York Times Book Review, Washington Post, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Review of Books Daily, and other newspapers and periodicals.

 

As The Testaments, Atwood’s eagerly-anticipated  sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) appears this September, it’s a good moment to review a few of the highlights and bookends of the first fifty years of her literary career. In this class we’ll look at Handmaid’s Tale, the  first dystopian Gilead book, at her first novel The Edible Woman (1969),  and her most recent collection of short stories, Stone Mattress (2017). Three Thursdays, October  3, (skip 10th),17, 24, from 2-4 p.m.

With

Supriya Goswami teaches courses in world literature (with special focus on Africa and South Asia), culture, and politics at Georgetown University. She has previously taught courses in children’s literature, postcolonial literature, and British literature and Empire at California State University, Sacramento and at George Washington University. She is the author of Colonial India in Children’s Literature (Routledge, 2012), which is the first book-length study to explore the intersections of British, Anglo-Indian, and Bengali children’s literature and defining historical moments in colonial India. She is currently working on her second book, Colonial Wars in Children’s Literature. She has also published in such scholarly journals as the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, South Asian Review, and Wasafiri.

While the United States has continually been infused and rejuvenated with the energy of new immigrants, their assimilation has often been fraught with challenges and feelings of alienation and loss. In this course, we will explore what it means to be a newcomer in a strange land by reading short stories written by Jhumpa Lahiri and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, both of whom are immigrants themselves. We will consider how their poignant short stories are as much about about fear, isolation, and separation as they are about hope, fortitude, and new beginnings. We will wrap up our discussions by watching Mira Nair’s exquisite film, Namesake, based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s best-selling novel by the same name.  Three Thursdays: October 3, 10, 17, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Maria Frawley is a Professor of English at George Washington University, where she teaches courses in nineteenth-century literature and regularly offers seminars on Jane Austen. She has authored books and articles on nineteenth-century women writers, including Jane Austen, Anne Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Harriet Martineau. Co-editor of the forthcoming Companion to Jane Austen with Routledge University Press, she is also at work on a book titled Keywords of Jane Austen’s Fiction.

In this course we will immerse ourselves in William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel of 1848, Vanity Fair. A door-stopper of a novel, its 666 pages are filled with delightful social sketches and a plot that takes its cast of characters to the Battle of Waterloo and back to England. Please note new date arrangement and time: Three Wednesdays: Class will start on October 16, (skip 23), 30 and (skip Nov 6), Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to Noon.

With
Paul Goldberg’s debut novel The Yid was published in 2016 to widespread acclaim and named a finalist for both the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the National Jewish Book Award’s Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction. As a reporter, Goldberg has written two books about the Soviet human rights movement, and has co-authored (with Otis Brawley) the book How We Do Harm, an expose of the U.S. healthcare system. He is the editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, a weekly publication focused on the business and politics of cancer, and coauthor (with Otis Brawley) of a book about the American healthcare system, How We Do Harm. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, and he has been featured on 60 Minutes20/20, CNN, and NPR. He lives in Washington, DC.

The Master and Margarita, a dark comedy by Mikhail Bulgakov, is one of the most significant novels of the 20th century. It’s a synthesis of Faust, a bit of Don Quixote and  a lot of Gogol. The idea: the Devil comes to Moscow in the 1930s, roughly at the times of the Moscow Trials. Confronting non-believes, he demonstrates the undeniable fact of his existence. The two-hour class will focus on the novel’s role as a catalyst of religious thought in the USSR. Its publication, long after Bulgakov’s death, during Khrushchev’s “thaw,” can be seen as the beginning of spiritual rebirth, both Christian and Jewish. The class will bring together an analysis of the novel, its status as the great Moscow novel, its Christian subplot, Its treatment of Stalin and Stalinism—and the milieu into which it was released. Nuances of translation may also be discussed. We will accomplish this during a single two-hour class. Tuesday, October 22, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

With

David B. Johnson is a professor of philosophy at Marymount University, and former writing professor at American and GW Universities.  He earned his PhD in Cultural Studies at George Mason University in 2011, and writes primarily about ethics and political theory.  He has two sons and 4 grandchildren, has been enjoying life with his girlfriend, E. Foster Pacine, and lives in Clifton VA.

Funny, subversive, fearless and fiercely intelligent, Iris Murdoch was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, both as a philosophical essayist and novelist. To celebrate the centenary of her birth, and the 20th anniversary of her death, this course interrogates her fourth novel, The Unicorn, and explores her influence on the extremely talented Irish writer John Banville by way of his novel, The Sea. Three Mondays Oct. 14, 21, 28 daytime, from 10 a.m. to Noon

With

Lori Brister has a Ph.D. in English literature and frequently writes about travel literature and visual culture. She has contributed to numerous scholarly publications and journals, and her nonfiction essays have appeared in Literary Hub, The Platform UK, South Atlantic Review, and forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is also the website manager and graphic designer at Politics and Prose.

Celebrate the Halloween season with one of the greatest horror novels of all time. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein not only fined the horror genre, but has influenced every psychological thriller and science fiction novel for two hundred years. Wednesday, October 30 and Thursday, October 31, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

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Carrie Callaghan’s debut novel, A Light of Her Own, about 17th century painter Judith Leyster, was published by Amberjack in 2018. Her next novel, Salt the Snow (2020), is about trail-blazing but little-known early 20th century journalist Milly Bennett and her years in 1930s Moscow and Spain. Carrie’s short stories have been published in multiple literary journals around the country, and she is a senior editor with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Once again, Kate Atkinson wows. Her historical fiction/spy novel Transcription returns to the fertile ground of wartime and post-war England, and this class will examine both the plot and the themes of Atkinson’s page-turner. In 1940, young Juliet Armstrong joins Britain’s intelligence effort in the war against fascism. Ten years later, her past returns in an unexpected manner, and Atkinson captivates her readers. We’ll consider how Atkinson grabs our attention and what relevance this story of early 20th century England has for 21st century readers.  Tuesday, October 15, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com) is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. She is the recipient of the following awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities: the 2016 Larry Neal Writers' Award in Adult Fiction, the 2016 Mayor's Arts Award for Outstanding New Artist, and Arts and Humanities Fellowships for 2018 and 2019. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, and Strange Horizons. She's also the author of a novel, TreeVolution, a hybrid fiction/poetry collection, Circe's Bicycle, and a short story collection, Midnight at the Organporium. She received her MFA from American University in 2019.

If you’ve been meaning to look into the work of N.K. Jemisin, but simply can’t imagine delving into a sci-fi trilogy right now, this is the class for you. Get a glimpse into the mind of one of today’s most highly-acclaimed speculative fiction authors—without committing to an epic journey. Dive into the dazzling speculative world of N.K. Jemisin, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, among many others. We’ll discuss individual stories in the collection, as well as overarching themes and techniques, while untangling your questions along the way. Tuesday, October 29, 6- 8 P.M.

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Christopher Griffin studied literature at Trinity College (like Oscar Wilde) and University College in Dublin and in US colleges. He taught humanities for 28 years at Strayer University, Irish literature at George Washington University for eight years, and classes on various topics (including Joyce’s fiction) at Politics and Prose for over 25 years.  He was a study leader on 13 Smithsonian Journeys.

This class will examine the wit, works, and woes of Oscar Wilde. Oscar said that he put his talent into his writings and his genius into his life, but he ended up in jail for two years for “gross indecency” and died a broken man.  He has become one of the most revered gay pioneers, icons, and martyrs. Wilde’s works of genius and talent have outlasted his life by over a century. Four Saturdays: October 12th, 19, 26, November 2, at Union Market  at 2-4 p.m.

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Brittany Kerfoot holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master in Fine Arts (Fiction) from George Mason University. Her writing has been published in The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, Driftwood Press, Madcap Review, and many others. She is an events manager at Politics and Prose, a college English professor at her alma mater, and at work on her first novel.

Gabriel García Márquez is the master of magical realism, a genre that combines real life elements with fantasy and supernatural themes. This classic story of seven generations of the Buendia family is ripe with fantastical characters and dreamlike sequences, but still holds universal themes like time, loneliness, and family. In this class, we'll explore both the genre of magical realism itself and how it functions in the novel, as well as our own interpretations of the underlying themes. Tuesday, November 12, 6-8 p.m.
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Leigha McReynolds received her PhD in English Literature from The George Washington University. Her dissertation was on science and the supernatural in 19th Century British Literature, including a chapter on Wilkie Collins. She has published and presented on texts ranging from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s A Strange Story to N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.Currently, Leigha is a professor in the writing program at The George Washington University where she uses science fiction to engage students across disciplines.

Join us to read the most popular English novel of the nineteenth century: Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860). With his runaway bestseller, Collins wrote the first sensation novel andthe first mystery novel. The intricately plotted tale of intrigue, insanity, and murder dangerouslyexcited the imaginations of Victorian readers and still captivates readers today. Although modern readers may not recognize the name, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, published in 1860, was the most popular English novel of the nineteenth century. When he wrote his runaway bestseller, Collins produced both the first sensation novel and the first mystery novel. The intricately plotted tale of intrigue, insanity, and murder dangerously excited theimaginations of Victorian readers and still captivates readers today. In this seminar-style,discussion-basedclass we will explore Collins’s contribution to the development of the noveland genre fiction, his innovations in narrative structure, and the underlying themes of mentalillness and women’s rights. The novel is divided into three epochs, and we’ll discuss one each week. Three Tuesdays: November 5, 12, 19 from 12 to 2 p.m.

With

Christopher Griffin studied literature at Trinity College and University College in Dublin and in US colleges. He taught humanities for 28 years at Strayer University, Irish literature at George Washington University for eight years, and classes on various topics at Politics and Prose for over 25 years. He has published many reviews. He was a study leader on 17 Smithsonian Journeys.

Irish Women’s Literature will use the anthology Ireland's Women: Writings Past and Present to look at literature by and about women from the Middle Ages to the present. Some of the topics covered in our anthology include bodies, girly years, love, marriage and family, money and power, practical heroism, religion, and talk. Five Fridays: October 11, 18, 25, November 1, 8, from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

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Melanie (Penny) Du Bois did her undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard, has lived in Europe, and taught literature at universities there and here. She has directed a reading group in Washington since 1989, and last taught at Politics and Prose in 2018. Her recent classes have been on the work of Coetzee, Penelope Fitzgerald, Tolstoy.

The long-awaited publication in English of Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad offers enthusiasts of his masterwork Life and Fate a rich tapestry of life in wartime Russia.  Robert and Elizabeth Chandler’s meticulous editing of the many versions of this ‘prequel’ allow us not only to revel in the novelist’s humane and literary treatments of people in war situations, as silly as family quarrels and as grand as Homer’s battles, but also to measure Grossman’s developing convictions against varying standards of political correctness of the Soviet officials who controlled publication.  As a distinguished war journalist covering the war between Germany and the  Soviet Union, Grossman includes analysis of the strategic course of the war with deep cultural awareness of the meaning of the time and episodes showing his sympathy for Russian people of every class and kind.  Four Mondays: November 4, 11, 18, 25, 2-4 p.m.

With
Leigha McReynolds received her PhD in English Literature from The George Washington University. Her dissertation was on science and the supernatural in 19th Century British Literature, but her current research focus is contemporary science fiction. She has published and presented on science fiction texts ranging from Ursula K. Le Guin’s short stories to Frank Herbert’s Dune . Currently, Leigha is a professor in the writing program at The George Washington University where she uses science fiction to engage students across disciplines.

For this class we’ll read the works of fantasy legends Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. In their different ways, each adds whimsy to our everyday world and wields a sense of humor unique to the fantasy genre. This seminar-style, discussion-based class will focus on their humorous takeson the apocalypse and explore how these satirical end-of-the-world tales allow us to reflect onand laugh at our own world. We’ll read their co-authored Good Omens and Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time. Two Thursdays: November 14, 21 from 6-8 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.

Donna Tartt’s  Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch  (2014)  involves a terrorist incident, a stolen artwork, and a motley cast of con-artists, orphans, and surrogate parents. The Goldfinch is a giant in pages—sprawling, gripping, powerful, and colorful in storytelling— but, the critics opined, a sparrow in style, uneven in substance.  Readers largely disagreed, and the novel flew off the shelves by the thousands. Now the Goldfinch is back, as a 2019 movie. The film prompts us to look at the novel again, in the light of its cinematic descriptions of place, representations of young manhood and the diverse family structures in America. Over the course of five years since publication, the culture of violence and alienation that was once a phantasm of the future has come closer to our reality. This class will welcome thoughtful debate about the novel, with a focus on the highlights of the reading experience, in contrast to the film. We will also discuss the novel in terms of the traditions of the Bildungsroman and the picaresque, while the ghost of Dickens (alluded to in several aspects of the novel), said to be Tartt's inspiration, looms overhead. One Monday: December 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. 

With

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.

Dubbed the father of realism, Honoré de Balzac’s most famous fictional father is Père Goriot, the wilted maker of vermicelli at the center of an 1835 novel that forms the cornerstone of the author’s sprawling project,  La Comédie humaine.  A retelling of King Lear that is perhaps even more tragic for its lack of a loving Cordelia, Balzac’s style is colorful rather than dark, a textured painting of the kinds of people post-Napoleonic France left behind to fend for themselves. Flickering with shades of Homer, Dante, and Sir Walter Scott, in Le Père Goriot and the massive compass of La Comédie humaine, Balzac lionized the smaller, more mannered and less noble lives of men and women tumbling into the chaotic new reign of a commercial order. Two Thursdays: December 5 and 12 from 2-4 p.m.

WRITING

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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.

One of the first signs that a piece of writing needs some work is a lack of humor, though not as that term is generally misunderstood. Humor comes in a range of shades, from slapstick ha-ha laugh-out-loud funny to the mordant wit of gallows humor. In this workshop, we’ll explore the range of ways humor can be used to develop the complexity of your writing, no matter the genre.  We'll go from making jokes to using humor in order to access and compliment more serious themes in writing. We'll examine examples of humor writing from different genres and talk about different styles and uses of humor, such as satire, parody, the zany, and dark humor. One Monday, October 28, 6 - 8 p.m.
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Joyce Winslow is an award-winning fiction writer published in The Best American Short Stories, many literary magazines, and college textbooks. She has won the Raymond Carver Award, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award, an NEA grant, and three D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowships in Fiction. She was associate professor of English Literature at the University of Pittsburgh and is currently working on a novel, which received two competitive grant while in-progress.

No matter where you are in your writing from beginner to seasoned writer, this series will put new tools in your hands and the reasons why they work. All you need is an open mind and a desire to learn. In-class exercises, key instruction, and some workshopping—for those who wish it— are provided in a safe space. Four Saturdays: October 19, 26, and November 2, 9, from noon to 2:00 p.m.

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Joyce Winslow was OP ED/Commentary Editor of the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and currently writes, pitches and places OP EDs for such private clients as Ambassadors, CEOs, and a former U.S. Secretary of Defense with whom she wrote a book published by the Brookings Institution. She has written and placed some 70 OP EDs in the last few years in top-tier mainstream newspapers, including some she bylined.

More than 500 daily newspapers want to hear from YOU. With a new balance in Congress, and key issues in play, this is the time to make your voice heard and get paid for it. Newspapers across the country are seeking to hear from “John or Joan Q. Public” daily. Taught by an OP ED editor, you’ll learn the proper structure of an OP ED, how to persuasively make your point and knock down opposing arguments (politely); what editors look for and what red flags to avoid. You’ll learn where/how and who to contact, how to fit your views to the right newspaper, and the format in which to submit an OP ED. Previous class members have had OP EDs published. Sign up quick--this class sells out fast. One Saturday, November 16, from 2 - 5 p.m.

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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 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. Sample her work at: www.michaeleweissmanwrites.com

Join novelist Sarah Pleydell and author Michaele Weissman at a 3-part workshop helping writers access the inner landscape where imagery resides. The teachers’ approach is playful, but their purpose is serious: to help writers discover language that is uniquely theirs. Three Sundays: November 10, 17, 24, from 3 -5:30 p.m.

With
Molly McCloskey is a novelist and memoirist. She is not a climate scientist, but a writer who is interested in exploring the ways we write about climate. Her most recent novel, Straying, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She has taught writing at George Washington University, University of Maryland, Boston University, Trinity College Dublin, and elsewhere. After living for two decades in Ireland, she now resides in Washington, D.C. www.mollymccloskey.com
 

 

The climate is changing. In his book The Great Derangement, Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that contemporary literature has not sufficiently confronted climate change. What would it look like for you to write about climate, or climate change, in a meaningful way? This workshop is open to those who want to explore that question, whether you’re reflecting on the weather patterns of your childhood, writing a cli-fi novel, or working on an essay about a water crisis in a country you’ve just visited. Six Sundays: September 29, October 6, 13 ,20, 27, Nov 3 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

 

With

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.

In an Interview with The Paris Review, author Deborah Eisenberg remarked that one of the advantages of being a writer “is that you know you can make the horrible thing better, then you can make it better again, then you make it better again.”  “Revision is all there is,” said David Remnick, Editor of the New Yorker. This workshop will offer immediate approaches and feedback for re-seeing and recasting your stories so that they are ready for submission to literary journals, MFA programs and awards. Two Saturdays: December 7 and 14 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

POLITICS & PLACE

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 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 series of classes on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to delve into the lives and histories of three explorers, adventurers or otherwise referred to as “meddlers” in the Middle East at the turn of the 20th century – T.E. Lawrence, Gertrude Bell and Freya Stark. Five Fridays: September 6, 20, October 4, 18 and  November 1, from 1 - 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 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)

Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash that Shaped the Middle East is an essential book to better understand the roots/basis/foundation of the current turmoil in the Middle East from civil wars to ISIS. Join us for a journey into the lives of two influential leaders in the Middle East; one a political nationalist and another a religious ideological figure. Gamal Abd El Nasser; Egypt’s President from 1954-1970 and the leader of Arab nationalism known as “Pan-Arabism”. And Sayid Qutb; the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading member and ideologue, also known as the “father of various branches of radical political Islam.” This non-fiction book is based on a decade of research by Professor Fawaz A. Gerges. Two Fridays: November 8th & 22nd, 1 pm – 3 pm

With

Christopher Griffin studied literature at Trinity College and University College in Dublin and in US colleges. He taught humanities for 28 years at Strayer University, Irish literature at George Washington University for eight years, and classes on various topics at Politics and Prose for over 25 years.  He was a study leader on 15 Smithsonian Journeys.

This course will look at Irish life in the past century or so, as told in scores of voices, both famous and unknown.  Using texts from 1916 to the present in our anthology, Ireland: The Autobiography: One Hundred Years of Irish Life, Told by Its People, we will hear diverse voices tell their stories and eye-witness accounts of history. Five Fridays: October 11, 18, 25, and November 1, 8 from 6-8 pm.

 

With

Joseph Hartman teaches political theory, constitutional law and American government in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. Prior to his time in the academy he spent more than a decade as a litigation attorney in private practice with a large law firm in Washington, D.C. He earned his Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown in 2015 (where he also served as the Interim Director of the Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy). He holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School (1999) and a B.A. in American Government from the University of Virginia (1996). His academic and intellectual interests focus on the relationship between political thought and theology in the Western tradition and contemporary issues relating to public and constitutional law.

Now more than ever, the constitutionality of government action occupies a central place in our public debate. Taught by Professor Joseph Hartman, who teaches constitutional law and political theory at Georgetown University, this class will delve into selected contemporary issues of constitutional significance, including the nature of executive power and the boundaries of privilege, the extent of the Congressional investigatory power, the constitutional framework for impeachment, and the challenges faced by the federal judiciary in its role as authoritative interpreter of the Constitution. Five Alternating Wednesdays: October 16, 30, November 13, skip for Thanksgiving, December 4, 18, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. *SOLD OUT* To be added to the waitlist email classes@politics-prose.com

LIFESKILLS

With

Jerry Webster presently serves as the Shastri, or head teacher, with the Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Center in Washington, D.C.  He began meditation with a ten full-day retreat in India with the Burmese teacher Goenka in 1974.  Since 1976, he is a student of the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and he has taught in this tradition since 1977.  He obtained his PH.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland in 1999.  He has taught numerous courses in literature for the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University and numerous courses in multiculturalism for Montgomery County Public Schools.  He has taught English full-time in public school systems for forty years; he began teaching with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1973.  During the past four years, he has led five full-day week-long meditation weekthuns and numerous programs along the East Coast, including multiple local courses Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. Peace Corps, Frederick Community College, and the Frederick Meditation Center.  This will be his fifth course at Politics & Prose.

The practice of working with fear in the Buddhist tradition allows one to enter the present more fully.  Everyone experiences times of bravery and cowardice.  Rather than developing a cocoon of protection and removing oneself from the present situation, it is only through staying with the fear that one can attain fearlessness.  This is not a religious course, but it is about studying and working with these traditional and time proven meditational techniques and exercises that allow one to enter the now of everyday life.  One often hears that one meditates to learn to relax.  Although relaxing is often one of the byproducts of Buddhist meditation, the true purpose is to be present in one’s life, being present on the spot rather than being riveted about according to one’s hopes and fears.  It is about being open, no matter what occurs, to whatever arises in order fully to live one’s life. Four Mondays: November 4,  11, 25, and December 2,  6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.;  Please note: no class Monday, Nov.18