Book Discussion – Cervantes' Classic Novel "Don Quixote": A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi

Book Discussion – Cervantes' Classic Novel "Don Quixote": A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi


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Why do many consider Cervantes’ Don Quixote to be the first—and in the mind of some, the greatest—novel in Western literature? What gives this seventeenth-century masterpiece its enduring appeal, and how do its themes and ideas remain viscerally relevant today?

First published in 1605, the novel is now one of the most-translated books of all time. On the surface, it tells the story of a fictional nobleman named Alonso Quixano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he decides to serve his nation as a knight-errant. He and his squire, Sancho Panza, take on several quests and land themselves in a world of trouble. At the time of its original publication, it was viewed as a simple comic novel but Don Quixote is more often interpreted today as a social commentary–foundational to the modern literary canon. 

Led by award-winning author and professor Joseph Luzzi, we will go deep inside Cervantes’ greatest work as we discover what makes it such a beloved classic worldwide. We invite you to explore the lecture outlines below for additional details.

And to experience additional seminars and courses being led by Dr. Luzzi, please click here.

Lecture One: The Magic Spell—and Danger—of Reading
Our first session will introduce us to the major issues and concerns of Cervantes’ great novel, especially its representation of the magical power that literature holds over Don Quixote. We will focus on the First Part of Don Quixote–Prologue and Parts 1 and 2. 

Lecture Two: The Art of Courtly Love
Our second session will continue to explore the adventures and misadventures of Don Quixote, paying particular attention to how his love for Dulcinea draws on the literary traditions of “courtly love” stretching back to the Renaissance and Middle Ages. We will focus on the First Part of Don Quixote, Part 3. 

Lecture Three: Hero or Antihero?
Our third and final session will consider the complex character of Don Quixote in all its depth and texture, as we answer the question of whether he is a “hero” or “antihero” when we focus on the First Part of Don Quixote, Part 4.

Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.

How does it work?
This is a three-part course held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture. 

When will I receive the Zoom link?
Your link to enter the Zoom room will be the same for all three sessions. It will be sent to the email address used to place your order 30 minutes prior to each lecture's start time.

Is there a reading list in advance?
Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. Professor Luzzi recommends the following book edition: Cervantes, Don Quixote (Trans. Edith Grossman; Ecco, 2005)

How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?
The course is $105 USD for three lectures.

Is a recording available?
Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording link within 48 hours of each session's conclusion.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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