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ZOOM: A Good and Pleasant Thing, Short Fiction about Aging   

**This class will be taught on Zoom**

Confucius calls age “a good and pleasant thing” while for playwright Tom Stoppard, “Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.” Great writers have long explored the double-edged sword of aging with all its attendant joys and sorrows—as wisdom battles regret, loss brings reassessment, and youthful aspirations give way to acceptance. In this seminar we will read and discuss short stories by an array of international writers—from Alice Munro to I.B. Singer, Anita Desai to Ray Bradbury, and many more—exploring how they tackle many aspects of aging, both personal and societal, with insight, pathos, and even humor.

Students will be sent stories to read in advance of class sessions, then engage in lively discussions about their themes and interconnections.


Week by Week Outline

Week 1: How Other See Us/How We See Ourselves

“Season of Disbelief” – Ray Bradbury

“A Visit of Charity” – Eudora Welty

“The Old Bird” – J.F. Powers


Week 2: Taking Care

“Taking Care” – Joy Williams

“Diem Perdidi” – Julie Otsuka

“A Devoted Son” – Anita Desai


Week 3: Family Dynamics

“On the Zattere” – William Trevor

“My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age” – Grace Paley

“Unaccustomed Earth” – Jhumpa Lahiri


Week 4: Marriage 

“Grief” – Anton Chekhov

“China” – Charles Johnson

“The Bear Came Over the Mountain” – Alice Munro


Week 5: Mortality

“The Road from Colonus” – E.M. Forster

“The Actual Thing” – William Maxwell

“The Journey to the Dead” – John Updike


Week 6: Second Chances

“Old Love” – I.B. Singer

“Five-Twenty” – Patrick White

“A Sheltered Woman” – Yiyun Li


This class is not available at this time.  

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