Book Discussion – Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick: A Four Part Course with Dr. Maria Seger

Book Discussion – Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick: A Four Part Course with Dr. Maria Seger


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Join Dr. Maria Seger for an engaging discussion of Herman Melville’s magnum opus Moby-Dick (1851). “Call me Ishmael,” the novel famously begins, and from there, it takes readers on a fascinating journey pursuing the notorious titular white whale. While it’s often been understood as a novel about Captain Ahab’s revenge or madness, on this journey, readers also grapple with some of life’s most complex historical and philosophical questions: questions of knowledge, truth, and perception; of race and sexuality; of the potentials and limits of human agency; of slavery and colonialism; and of humans’ relationship to the natural world.

Led by an expert on nineteenth-century US literature and culture, Dr. Maria Seger, this conversation will deepen participants’ understanding of what has been hailed as one of the Great American Novels. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased appreciation for the cultural, historical, and literary significance of Moby-Dick.

Please note: Participants are encouraged but not required to read along each week for immersive discussion. (Our recommended edition is: Penguin, 2002, ISBN: 9780142437247.)

Lecture One – Chapters 1 to 31:

Our first discussion will introduce biographical, historical, and critical approaches to Melville’s Moby-Dick and investigate literary techniques of narration, characterization, plot, and setting. 

Lecture Two: Chapters 32 to 60:

Our second discussion will analyze the implications of the novel’s discussion of cetology (the zoological study of whales) as well as the text’s developing style.

Lecture Three: Chapters 61 to 92: 

Our third discussion will discuss the ongoing importance of some of the novel’s major natural and philosophical themes.

Lecture Four: Chapters 93 to the Epilogue:

Our final discussion will focus on Ahab’s quest, including the thrilling climax of the novel and its closing resolution.

Maria Seger is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she researches and teaches US, Black, and ethnic literatures and cultures and critical race and ethnic studies. Her work appears in Callaloo, Nineteenth-Century Literature, and Studies in American Naturalism, and her edited collection, Reading Confederate Monuments, is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. She earned her PhD from the University of Connecticut in 2016.

How does it work?

This is a four-part course held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule above for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

When will I receive the Zoom link?

The link to enter your Zoom room will be the same for each lecture in the course. It will be sent to the email address that was used to place your order 30 minutes prior to each session's start time.

Is there a reading list?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there will be suggested readings made available for further investigation. These will be provided to all participants at the course's conclusion.

Participants are encouraged but not required to read along in their copy of Moby-Dick each week for immersive discussion. Our recommended edition is: Penguin, 2002, ISBN: 9780142437247

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time included for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 USD for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording within 48 hours of each event's conclusion.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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