WRITING

With

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. Online Class.

With

Mathina Calliope is a writer, teacher, editor, and writing coach. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Outside Magazine, Longreads, Cagibi, the Wall Street Journal, Off Assignment, Northern Virginia Magazine, and elsewhere. She has studied at the Yale Writing Workshop, holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, and is working on an anthology about badass outdoorsy women. Learn more: www.mathinacalliope.com

This intense workshop will home in on the aspects of craft and habits of introspection that writers use to elevate their good drafts to compelling essays. We will explore crucial elements of personal writing—craft, authenticity, and voice—via lecture, example, practice, and feedback. Four Thursdays: June 4, 11, 18, 23, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Online Class.

With

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 virtual continuation of their fall workshop helping writers access the inner landscapes where imagery and voice reside. The teachers’ approach is playful, but their purpose is serious: to help writers access their inner landscape and, in so doing, produce work that is more alive and original.Three Saturdays: June 13, 20, 27 from 10 am to Noon. Online Class.

FICTION

With
Brittany Kerfoot is the Deputy Director of Events at Politics and Prose, as well as the host of P&P's True Crime Book Group. Previously, she taught English at George Mason University, her alma mater, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is currently at work on her first novel.
It's hard to go anywhere these days without seeing one of Irish author Sally Rooney's brilliant creations. From her debut novel Conversations with Friends, to her bestselling 2019 book Normal People, to the now ubiquitous Hulu adaptation, Rooney's influence on tliterature, television, and pop culture is impossible to ignore. Two Thursdays: June 11 & 18, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Online Class.
With

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. Her recent Politics and Prose classes have been on the work of Coetzee, Penelope Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, Grossman, and Proust.

The first two volumes of Hilary Mantel’s novels on the life and career of Thomas Cromwell each won the Booker Prize, so the publication of the third and final segment, The Mirror and the Light, has been a great literary event. We will discuss the artistry of Mantel’s treatment of power dealings in the Tudor age.. Four Mondays: June 1, 8, 15, 22, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Online Class

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Verlyn Flieger is Professor Emerita in the Department of English at the University of Maryland, where for 36 years she taught courses in Tolkien, Medieval Literature, and Comparative Mythology. She is the author of five critical books on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, Splintered Light, A Question of Time, Interrupted Music, Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien, and There Would Always Be A Fairy Tale: More Essays on Tolkien. She edited the Extended edition of Tolkien's Smith of Wootton Major. With Carl Hostetter she edited Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, and with Douglas A. Anderson she edited the Expanded Edition of Tolkien On Fairy-Stories. With Michael Drout and David Bratman she is a co-editor of the yearly journal Tolkien Studies. She has also published two fantasy novels, Pig Tale and The Inn at Corbies’ Caww, an Arthurian novella, Avilion, and the short stories "Green Hill Country" and "Igraine at Tintagel."

From the kingdoms of Middle-earth to the domination of Mordor, from the power of the Ring to the visions of the Palantir; from the Battle of the Pelennor Field to the internal struggle within Frodo Baggins, orcs and Nazgûl, men, hobbits and wizards all are essential components of the climax, eucatastrophe, and not altogether Happy Ending that brings to a close The Lord of the Rings. Three Sundays: June 7, 14, (skip 21) and 28 from 2 to 4 p.m.

With

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.

The state of the world in spring 2020 seems uniquely suited to Kurt Vonnegut’s darkly satirical humor. Join us for a discussion-based, seminar-style class covering The Sirens of Titan (1959), Cat’s Cradle (1963), and Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). One of the pleasures of reading Vonnegut is that the more you read, the more you enjoy the novels.Three Wednesdays: June 17, 24, and July 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. Online Class.

With

Leigha McReynolds received her PhD in English Literature from The George Washington University. Her dissertation was on science and the supernatural in the 19th Century British novel. Currently, 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.

Did you know that the first novel in English was written by a woman? That most of the novels published in the 1700’s were written by women? And that the most prolific novelist of the 18th century was also a woman? In this discussion-based, seminar-style class, we’ll explore the origins of the English novel by reading three women writers who contributed to its growth and prominence as a genre: Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Frances Burney. Four Thursdays: July 2, 9, 16, 23 from Noon to 2 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 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. *SOLD OUT*

POETRY

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Christopher Griffin is from "Yeats country" in south Galway near Yeats’ Thoor Ballylee.  His grandfather, Christy Griffin, sometimes decorated Coole House and brought Lady Gregory news of “the Troubles” 1919-23, so, like Yeats, he is quoted in her journals.  Christopher studied Irish literature in English at Trinity College and University College in Dublin.  He has lectured at the Yeats Summer School in Sligo and in Yeats’ Thoor Ballylee and Coole Park. He has 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.

Although rooted in his native culture and a senator in the first Irish government, Yeats claimed that “art is tribeless, nationless, a blossom gathered in No Man’s Land.”  As Yeats said, “Out of our quarrels with others we make rhetoric; out of our quarrels with ourselves we make poetry.”  Dabble in the Nobel Laureate's poetry, plays, and prose. His words have become part of our language, as in “A terrible beauty is born” and “Things fall apart.” Five consecutive Fridays: June 5, 12, 19, 26 and July 3 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Online Class.

With

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/

For those willing to undertake the steep ascent of Dante’s seven-story Mountain, nowhere in the legacy of human culture is the process of becoming a “whole person” more closely observed or rendered with deeper psychological and social insight than in the cantos of Dante’s Purgatorio. It is certainly possible to read, understand and enjoy Purgatorio without having read the Inferno. Six Tuesdays: June 9, 16, 23, 30, and July 7, 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Online Class.

With

Kate Eastwood Norris is a multiple Helen Hayes Award winner and has performed and taught Shakespeare (more than any other playwright) in her 25-year career. She also received an MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University and considers her greatest goal, other than to act with Maggie Smith, to be to blow the minds of a class full of Intro to Shakespeare students who are required to attend.

Discover how Shakespeare’s 400 year-old plays are not as antiquated as they may seem by exploring the structure of his language from an actor’s point of view. Two Tuesdays: July 21 and 28, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Online Class.

NONFICTION

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Garrett Peck is an author and public historian in the DC area. His eighth and latest book is A Decade of Disruption: America in the New Millennium 2000 - 2010. He frequently leads tours through Politics & Prose, including the Jazz History Tour, Prohibition Tour, and Walt Whitman in Washington Tour. Garrett is currently working on a book about how Willa Cather composed Death Comes for the Archbishop, which he hopes to one day turn into a week-long tour of New Mexico.

Join author and historian Garrett Peck in a two-part class, that will explore Henry Adams classic autobiography The Education of Henry Adams, published posthumously in 1918 and winner of the Pulitzer. The Modern Library named the book the best English non-fiction book of the 20th century. Two Mondays: June 29 and July 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. Online Class.

LIFESKILLS

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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 has been 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 five years, he has led six full-day week-long meditation weekthuns and a variety of programs along the East Coast, including multiple local courses for Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. Peace Corps, Frederick Community College, and the Frederick Meditation Center.

Few books serve to so simply and yet deeply introduce students to the tenets and practices of the Four Immeasurables of Buddhism - loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity - as Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You  and Thich Nhat Hahn’s At Home in the World.  In addition to analyzing the two books, the purpose of this course is to provide both a conceptual and experiential framework to allow participants to move forward in understanding and implementing these contemplative and meditative teachings and practices into daily life.  If we acknowledge the love, compassion, joy and equanimity that we can feel now and nurture it through these practices, the expansion of those qualities will happen naturally by itself. Four Mondays: June 22, June 29, July 6, July 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Online Class

HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY

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Brian Taylor is a scholar of US history who focuses on issues related to citizenship, race and national belonging. He earned his doctorate from Georgetown University in 2015, and since has taught at Georgetown and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His first book, tentatively titled Fighting for Citizenship, is in the production process at the University of North Carolina Press. His current project focuses on the Reno City neighborhood of Washington, D.C. He lives in Laurel, MD, with his wife Diane, son Steve, and three cats.

Jill Lepore’s 2018 These Truths takes its title from the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson’s famous contention that Americans considered certain principles “self-evident.”  In reality, however, US history is defined by a struggle over core principles – what they mean, and to whom they apply – and Lepore’s book chronicles the United States’ attempt to embody its founding ideals.  In this class, we will examine North America’s colonial development and the founding of the United States, and follow the nation’s development as it expanded across a continent, witnessed a cataclysmic struggle over the nature of freedom, and emerged as an industrial and military superpower in the twentieth century.  We will discuss the various conflicts that have defined the United States’ development, looking at how Americans of different backgrounds and eras have thought about what it means to be American.  We will discuss Lepore’s interpretation of prominent American figures, events and trends from American history, and consider what her work shows us about what remains to be done to help the United States fulfill its revolutionary promise. Six Wednesday: July 8, 15, 22, and August 5, 12 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.