Becoming Jonathan Franzen: A Writer's Odyssey

A Lecture by Philip Weinstein

English literature professor Philip Weinstein discusses the life and work of Jonathan Franzen '81. Weinstein is introduced b his colleague Peter Schmidt.

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Professor of English literature Philip Weinstein teaches courses and seminars on international modernism as a literary and philosophical movement, featuring authors as varied as Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Dostoevsky, Rilke, Kafka, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Beckett, and Benjamin. He approaches American fiction concerned with race by way of a course that pairs Faulkner and Morrison, as well as one that places Faulkner, Wright, Ellison, and O'Conner in a Dostoevskian context. He also pursues his interest in the aesthetics and ideology of realism, modernism, and postmodernism through the epic fictions of Tolstoy, Joyce, and Garcia-Marquez. 

Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English, is the recipient of several NEH Fellowships and an ACLS Fellowship. He has written half a dozen books that range from James to Faulkner and Morrison (in American literature), and from Dickens through Joyce (in British literature). His comparative interests - centered on Kafka, Proust, and Faulkner - are most fully explored in his Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction (2005). Finally, his abiding focus on William Faulkner has led to three books either centered on Faulkner or featuring him in their concerns: Faulkner's Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns (1992), What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison (1996), and Unknowing. This same focus animates his award-winning study of Faulkner - a speculative reading of the interplay between Faulkner's life and work, Becoming Faulkner.

The award-winning works of Jonathan Franzen '81 have made him a household name in America. His novels are The Twenty-Seventh City, Strong Motion, The Corrections, and Freedom. In this lecture, Weinstein discusses Franzen's life and works, which are both brilliantly satiric and deeply moving.