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Lifelong Learning: Boston

Fall 2019 Course: All in the Family (LLS 191BOS)

Meets Tuesdays, 6:15–8:45 p.m.
Sept. 17–Nov. 19, except Oct. 8 and 15
400 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, at Goulston & Storrs

García-Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Morrison, Song of Solomon
Franzen, The Corrections 

These three writers—one Colombian, one African-American, one white American—differ in countless ways from each other.  But they all deploy the construct of family in order to explore native cultures, racial plight, and the destiny of America (and the Americas).  They do so by way of meditating on the role of the father.  Spending two or three weeks on each novel, our course will pursue (among others) the following issues:

  • How is “magic realism” different from either “magic” or “realism”?  How does it work in One Hundred Years of Solitude?  To what ends does García-Márquez—and later, Morrison—deploy it?
  • How do the different cultural orientations of each writer—Colombian, African American, white/Protestant American—affect their ways of imagining family as bedrock?
  • What roles do powerful historical phenomena—colonialism, empire, slavery and its aftermath, the upheaval (in the US) of the 1960s—play in these novels?
  • What “gender politics” seems to operate in each of these novels?
  • How does each novel explore the resonance of the father?
  • What issues or injustices does each novel seem most intent on “correcting”?

The professor: 

Philip Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor Emeritus at Swarthmore.  He has published extensively on 20th century fiction, including recently Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage (2015).  He has taught numerous courses in the LLS program--first in New York, more recently in Boston.