Choose a LitCourse
It's best to take courses in order—but not necessary.

1 Literature Matters: Why We Read

What is the difference between serious fiction and pulp fiction—and why should we care? In this course, we attempt to answer both of those questions.

—Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
—Calculating Love by Alicia d'Marvel

Take the course (begin Lecture).

2 The Novel: A Mirror of the World
Where did the novel come from? This course offers a brief history of realistic fiction, the infant of the literary world.

Read—A Case of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle

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3 How to Read: Finding Meaning
Learn to read deeply in order to open up a richer level of meaning. This course is the first in a series that explores setting, plot, characters, and much more.

Read—Powder by Tobias Wolff

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4 How to Read: Title & Setting
"It was a dark and stormy night"—how's that for setting? We'll talk about both titles and settings—and the clues they give us for understanding fiction.

—Digging by Seamus Heaney
—A & P by John Updike

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5 How to Read: Character
Good writers create characters that jump off the page, some living in our memories forever. This course explores different ways to think and talk about fictional characters.

Read—Babylon Revisited by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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6 How to Read: Plot
How do authors create plots that keep us turning the page and burning the midnight oil? We'll look at some of the plot devices writers use to develop their story lines.

Read—A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

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7 How to Read: Point of View
Whoever tells the story shapes the story—it's one of the most important decisions an author makes. So how does an author decide who does the telling? We'll talk about that in LitCourse 7!

Read—Why I Live at the P.O. by Eudora Welty

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8 How to Read: Irony
Authors love to use irony—to make readers expect one thing but give them another. That's the fun of irony.

Read—Roman Fever by Edith Wharton

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9 How to Read: Symbolism
Symbols are some of the most powerful tools a writer has to create meaning. This course explores what symbols are and how they work.

Read—Horse Dealer's Daughter by D.H. Lawrence

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10 How to Read: Theme
After all the words and all the pages, what is the author trying to say—really? We'll talk about how you can discern some of the larger ideas at stake in a work of literature.

Read—Eveline by James Joyce

Take the course (begin lecture).

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