This winter marks my 20th year in serious study and conversation with American Literature. Twenty years since I enrolled in graduate study at NYU and declared my intention to do research in this field, in this batch of books. Lately, I find my seminars and lectures end abruptly, with so much left over to talk about. Personal connections we have to these texts. Unbridled fandom. New ideas that I don’t have footnotes for yet. Remembrances of other lectures, in other places, running through my lecture notes. Considerations about what got left out, and my reasons for what got selected for further discussion. I won’t have all the answers or have everything right. But I promise more truthiness than is appropriate for the lecture hall.

So I am launching this newsletter, to capture the afterglow of two hours spent in a classroom with a great piece of text. Each Friday afternoon (Central European Time), I’ll post a short study on a selected work, and name a reading for the next week. Mine is an expanded canon of new and old classics, from every genre and style, and we will not be reading it chronologically.

Think of it as a kind of old fashioned correspondence course, where you can have a short engagement with a piece of text, a “selection” that you might not otherwise encounter.

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If you are also an enthusiastic reader of literature, whose mind wanders as they read, who delights in the sentence or the phrase, who is looking for new voices and experiences, and whose hopes are pinned on the future while reading the past, I hope you will join me in this conversation. No marks will be given, no attendance will be taken. Come back to class for the pleasure of it.

Yours truly,

Dr. Jessie Morgan-Owens

University Lecturer in American Literature and Culture, Leiden University

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A correspondence course in American Literature, enthusiastically delivered every Friday.


lecturer in American literature and culture.