Summer Reading Seminar

An exciting announcement!

This summer I plan on leading a reading seminar for friends and family, or anyone else who’s interested. It’s definitely going to be a little nerdy, but my goal is to make it as accessible as possible to anyone who’s interested.

You can sign up for it with this Google Form.

Here are the details:

  • There’s no cost. The only investment is your time.
  • Seminar length: One hour. If we’re having way too much fun, we can certainly run over, but that will be session dependent. For official purposes though, I’ll list it as an hour—anything further will be a bonus.
  • The seminar runs from July 19th to mid-September. (End date TBD)
  • We’ll be meeting on Zoom on Monday evenings.
  • Frequency: My plan is to have weekly meetings, but if this is hard for summer schedules, we can potentially move it to every two weeks.
  • The plan is to engage with two or three texts which I’ve read as part of the first year course for the English Tripos at Cambridge. I’ve decided on one text so far, which is Gawain and the Green Knight. The second, and possible third, is still TBD—potentially based on a survey of what everyone involved wants to read. Stay tuned for more info on this. (Possible ideas: Shakespeare’s earlier narrative poems, Venus and Adonis or Lucrece, or alternatively one of his plays; portions from the Aeneid, Metamorphoses or The Faerie Queene.)
  • How will we engage with the texts? Two primary ways:
    • Discussion: This is where the good stuff happens. It’s great reading on your own, but you get so much more from a text when you share it with others. I’ll share the introductory thoughts and reading I’ve done this past year on the ones we’re covering, and, most importantly, you can hear your fellow student’s responses as well and help to develop each other’s thoughts.
    • Writing: Participants will take turns writing short responses (roughly 500 words or so) to our readings. This could be an actual essay (intro, body, conclusion), or just some notes. I won’t stop you from writing every week that we meet, but I also won’t require it. Prior to our meetings, whoever has written for the week will email their essay/notes to myself and other students, so we can all discuss and respond to the writing in our time together.
    • Bonus: I’m also considering opening up the opportunity for people to do short (5-10 minute) presentations, based on the portion of the text that we’re reading and any relevant secondary or contextual information that can help fill out our understanding of the text (e.g. a critical essay or documentary). This could be a wonderful way of enriching our discussion time. It’s completely optional, and once again, will take shape once we get going and see how much interest there is in our group.

I’m really excited about reading with you all this summer! This year in particular offers some cool opportunities to engage with Gawain I think, as A24 is releasing a film adaptation of the tale; I’m sure that thinking about the poem in conversation with the film will yield some fruitful discussion. Overall, these few weeks of close readings will offer time to dive into some amazing texts alongside myself and other students, and for me to share a little of what I’ve learned in my first year at Cambridge.

Here’s the signup link again for the Google Form, or you can send me an email at seanisaac432@gmail.com if you’re just curious and have more questions before signing up.

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