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Great Books Online for Adults - Winter Programs

Connect with Readers & Thinkers from Across the Globe.

Live, weekly classes put you in touch with the best thinking and writing from throughout history. 

Small-group seminars and workshops cultivate intellectual community and build meaningful connections among peers. Dates for fall 2022 coming soon.  View some of programs from earlier this year to get a sense of our literary explorations!

Winter ProgramsDatesWeek Days     
Con Men & TrickstersFeb. 23 - Mar. 30, 2022  Wednesdays
Classical Explorations: Henderson the Rain KingMar. 1 - Apr. 5, 2022Tuesdays

Prior Program for Adults!

Classical Explorations: Henderson the Rain King 

Join Great Books to explore Saul Bellow’s Pulitzer nominated novel, Henderson the Rain King.  The novel’s unlikely combination of comic adventure and metaphysical discussions underscores the often absurd journey of the larger-than-life protagonist Eugene Henderson.  Rich with vast, inherited wealth, Henderson yearns for more. How is it possible to have everything and nothing?  We’ll follow this imperfect hero, full of bravado and discontent, as he travels to Africa on a quest for meaning.  What does it mean to have purpose?  Let’s take a literary adventure together to discuss this and more.  Ranked 21 on the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels, this promises to be a strange, humorous, and rewarding journey.

Dates: Tuesdays at 8:00pm Eastern: March 1- April 5
Time: 6 Weeks of 90 Minute classes
Tuition: $325

This session will be led by Dr. Jacob Burg, a lecturer at Boston University in the College of Arts and Sciences' Writing Program. He was the winner of the 2015-16 Brandeis University Shirle Dorothy Robbins Creative Writing Prize, and the 2019-20 Milton Hindus Dissertation Fellowship. He received his BA in English from Boston College and his PhD in American Literature from Brandeis University.

GBO Seminar & Discussion: Con Men and Tricksters

Examine some of literary history’s most extraordinary tricksters and their marks through the works of Dickens, Twain, Moliere, and more. Folk tales and art too! If P.T. Barnum was right, and there really is a sucker born every minute, the corollary applies: grifters must come into the world at a roughly equivalent rate.

For centuries, across continents, writers and artists have been fascinated with the characters who bend the rules, who take advantage of situations, and who are willing to shape the truth for a little gain. How do we recognize these figures? What makes them so compelling? And how do we know if we're the mark...or the con?

Dates: Wednesdays at 8:00pm Eastern: Feb. 23 – March 30
Time: 6 Weeks of 75 Minute classes
Tuition: $325

This session will be by Alex Johnson. He is an educator and theater artist based in Boston, MA where his work focuses on launching and sustaining theater programs in Boston public schools. His recent academic writing has focused on educational change in Shakespeare's England, on economic fraud, and performance in the 1820s. As an actor, writer, and director, his work has been seen in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Alaska. Alex is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and holds an MA in Theater and Performance Studies from Stanford University.

Go to the Movies with Great Books: Laws and Outlaws

From lonesome cowboys to mafia dons, would-be Robin Hoods to thieves on the run, American cinema has since its inception been fascinated by those who live outside the law and those who chase them. Why do people become outlaws? Why might outlaws play such a strong role in our cultural imagination? And what could these outlaws reveal about our conception of the law itself? This six-week course will explore the relationship between the outlaw and the law through a survey of American cinema, grappling with how different genres and time periods imagine and reimagine this mythic figure. Each week will feature an assigned film and an additional suggested film for optional viewing.

Possible film Selections include: 

  • Double Indemnity (1944)
  • Rashomon (1950)
  • Johnny Guitar (1954)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Blade Runner (1984)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • Heat (1995)
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • The Rider (2017) Kafka, “Before the Law”
  • Agamben, “Homo Sacer”

Dates Wednesdays at 8:00pm Eastern: January 12 – February 16
Time: 6 Weeks of 90 Minutes
Tuition: $325

This session will be led by Max Seuchting and Mike Harrington. Max Suechting is a doctoral candidate in Stanford University’s Program in Modern Thought & Literature where he studies contemporary American popular culture, focusing on music, literature, and visual media post-WWII.

Mike Harrington is a doctoral candidate at Princeton University studying English Literature. He is a long time Academic Director at GBSP and a graduate of Amherst College.

More Prior Programs for Adults

Classical Explorations:
Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

Explore the novel that solidified Ernest Hemingway as one of America's greatest writers of the twentieth century. Take a poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I era through the eyes of American expat and veteran Jake Barnes and the British socialite Lady Brett Ashley, and more unforgettable characters. See how Hemingway's spare writing style brings you, the reader, to explore a challenging  time of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.

Led by Dr. Joseph Coulson, the President and Chief Academic Officer of Harrison Middleton University. He is the past president of the Great Books Foundation, our mission partner. Beyond teaching, his poetry, drama, and fiction have been widely published, including two novels, Of Song and Water and The Vanishing Moon, that translated into German and French. Joe studied at Wayne State University and the University of Oxford, and he holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from SUNY Buffalo.

GBO Seminar & Discussion: The Ultimate Sacrifice - From the Bible to Bob Dylan 

What would you do if faced with the ultimate sacrifice? God’s command to Abraham that he offer his son, Isaac, has been seen as both the utmost example of self-sacrifice and an argument for the necessity of disobeying commands that are morally abhorrent. For more than two millennia, people throughout the world have grappled with the troubling questions about sacrifice, authority, obedience, and faith to which the story gives rise. The notion of the ultimate sacrifice of one’s children has been played out from Agamemnon and Iphigenia to Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Does our thinking about such sacrifices depend on whose vantage point we choose to center in the narrative? Or is it simply a question of ethics?  Explore how the theme of sacrifice has been taken up, both directly and indirectly, in different literary, poetic, artistic, and musical imaginations across time. 

Readings will include literature selections from Euripides, Kierkegaard, and more. We will also delve into art and music by Rembrandt, Chagall, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen.

Dr. Steven Volk, Professor of History Emeritus at Oberlin College will guide this fun intellectual journey. A professor of Latin American history and museum studies for 31 years,  he was also named US Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Classical Explorations: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Live from Dublin, explore The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde’s Classic tale of Gothic horror. Join renowned actors, playwrights, and educators Michael and Sam Ford as they guide you through the text. This duo will lead the weekly discussion on sections of the novel as only true Dubliners can. Michael will provide bonus content around the wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde. Sam will utilize his knowledge as a historian and urbanist to show us Dublin and London in Wilde’s time. Join us for this exciting literary adventure!

Your Favorite Literary Tour Guides!

We are excited to share that Sam and Michael Ford are returning to Great Books for another intellectually rousing discussion series live from Dublin. 

Sam is a writer, performer, teacher, and tour guide with a passion for Dublin history. He is an Irish Literature Scholar and Enthusiast with a QQI Level 6 Special Award in Tour Guiding from Coláiste Dhúlaigh.

Michael is an actor known for his roles in Becoming JaneMichael Collins, and Frank. He was artistic director of Bewley’s Café Theatre in Dublin from 1999 to 2005 and has worked on more than 50 RTE radio dramas.

Classical Explorations: Absalom, Absalom!

Is Absalom, Absalom! the greatest American novel?  Faulkner thought it might be.  The Nobel Prize Committee weighed it along with The Sound and the Fury and awarded him the Prize for Literature.  The literary world came ablaze in the 1930s as Absalom, Absalom! and Gone with the Wind caught American imagination and awakened the world’s curiosity about the South. 

Dive into this great American classic with us!  Travel back in time to William Faulkner’s imaginary Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, before, during, and after the Civil War.  Unravel the tangled  memories of its residents to explore the South’s relationship to its own history in Absalom, Absalom!.  Multiple narrators jumping through time add layers of richness to this fascinating tale of a quest for power and position.  Absalom, Absalom! is a powerful exploration of human passions, family, power, race, social hierarchy, and the South. 

This series will be led by longtime Great Books Academic Directors Noah Rosenblum, JD.


Noah Rosenblum earned his JD from Yale Law School and is pursuing his Ph.D. in intellectual history at Columbia University. Noah is the recipient of a Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education, a Seigel Fellowship from the Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History, and is a former Yale Law School Legal History Fellow. He is a graduate of Harvard and Deep Springs College.

GBO Seminar & Discussion Series: Mysteries of the Deep 

As Herman Melville writes in Moby-Dick, There is a "sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath.”

Sweet Mysteries of the Deep: Water and the Sea of our Imagining will probe the depths of literature by exploring what water has historically signified to the human imagination. And we will consider how writers have made use of water and sea in their work—as a battleground, as an abyss, and as an historical archive. Text selections will include works by William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Derek Walcott, Hector Tobar, and others!

Co-led by longtime Great Books Academic Directors Dr. Amos Rothschild and Max Suechting


Dr. Amos Rothchild is the Associate Professor of English at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is a graduate of Yale University, Fordham University, and Boston University.


Max Suechting is a doctoral candidate in Stanford University’s Program in Modern Thought & Literature. He is a graduate of Amherst College.

GBO Classical Explorations: The Dubliners

DublinersLive from Dublin and led by a native Dubliner! Join us to read and discuss James Joyce's timeless work in this six week program. Explore the most famous and iconic stories of Dublin and meet the bars, theatres, and streets that make these stories come alive.  Students will be expected to read an approximately 30-page section of the novel for each class meeting and prepare a minimum of two discussion questions.

Led by Academic Director Sam Ford, a performer, teacher, scholar of Irish literature, native Dubliner, and ultimate tour guide to Irish culture.

Classical Explorations Quick Facts:

GBO Seminar Series: When Dreams Become Reality

Join us for a six-week investigation into When Dreams Become Reality. Explore how imagination and dreams help shape how we see the world and give voice to what we might try to do within it. Our shared inquiry methodology enables you to simply show up, read expertly-chosen selections of literature together, and learn deeply through Socratic-style discussion. Readings include works by Elizabeth Bishop, Delmore Schwartz, Jorge Luis Borges, and others.

Led by Dr. Ilan Stavans and Noah Rosenblum, JD.  Read more about these longtime Great Books Academic Directors below.

GBO Seminar Series Quick Facts:

Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a writer, performer, and teacher with a passion for Dublin literature, history, and culture.  A native Dubliner, he received his MSc in Urban Studies from University College London and his BA from Trinity College Dublin.  The ultimate tour guide to Dubin, Sam has worked with severl great Dublin institutions including the James Joyce Centre and International Literature Festival Dublin.  He has performed at the Abbey, the Peacock, the Samuel Beckett, and several other prominent Irish theaters.

Jonathan Volk will lead the Writer's Workshop this spring.

Jonathan Volk

Jonathan Volk received his MFA at the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets & Writers, where he also teaches creative writing. He has work published in Black Warrior Review, DIAGRAM, Caketrain and elsewhere. His honors include the Harvey Swados Prize in Fiction and a nomination for the Pushcart Prize

Dr. Ilan Stavans

Dr. Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Cultures at Amherst College, host of NPR’s In Contrast, and publisher of Restless Books, devoted to world literature in translation. Celebrated by the The New York Times as one of the foremost authorities on Latino literature and culture, Dr. Stavans is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Guggenheim Fellowship. His work, translated into a dozen languages, has been adapted into stage and film.

Noah Rosenblum JD

Noah Rosenblum earned his JD from Yale Law School and is pursuing his Ph.D. in intellectual history at Columbia University. Noah is the recipient of a Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education, a Seigel Fellowship from the Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History, and is a former Yale Law School Legal History Fellow. He is a graduate of Harvard and Deep Springs College.

Connect with Readers & Thinkers from Across the Globe.

Live, weekly classes put you in touch with the best thinking and writing from throughout history. 

Small-group seminars and workshops cultivate intellectual community and build meaningful connections among peers.

Enjoy Programs that Challenge and Enrich. Learn Alongside World-Class Faculty. 

All classes are led by our distinguished faculty of Academic Directors. These skilled professors and scholars hail from world-class institutions across the globe. Masters of Socratic pedagogy known as Shared Inquiry, they have been inspiring a love of literature in our students for nearly 20 years.

Join us for shared inquiry sessions that provide the exciting, literary exploration. Call/text us at 203-612-9470 to register today!

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