Parisian Literary Salon

creating community through reading and discussing literature

Parisian Literary Salon

At the Parsian Literary Salon, we spend four to six sessions discussing and analyzing a specific text. Discussions are led by a dynamic literature instructor with experience teaching English and world literature and poetry as well as creative writing.

Come and spend an evening (or afternoon) and you will find that as you work to understand and analyze a complex text, you will sharpen your reading ability and appreciation. The literary analysis will expand your understanding of ideas and themes throughout the arts.

What We Do
Our weekly sessions require that you have completed a section of the text that we then discuss and examine. Most of our conversations start with close readings of the text, looking to understand the role of language, image, metaphor, tone, symbol, etc. I also ask participants to do some informal writing in response to the text and to share parts of these writings with the group.

I provide working definitions of literary terms as well as more complex considerations of how these terms form our lens of perception, our memories, our understandings of the world and our place in it. I also provide as much outside source material as the group or individuals desire- from critical essays to historical source papers to thematic elaborations.

In all of the recent Salons, I appreciate the courage and energy that participants on both sides of the Channel bring to the table. I am always surprised (though I shouldn’t be) to hear that some find the Salon intimidating or feel the intensive study of these great works requires academic or personal preparation. I believe so strongly that the study of these works should not be reserved for the academically privileged. Joyce wrote to communicate his ideas to anyone who desired a deeper understanding of human experience. The Salon conversation is made rich with a variety of participants: some have training in the reading of great literature; many do not, but bring to the discussion the wealth of ideas and experiences they have gained in their lives. The questions asked by those who do not understand the work spur us all to a greater engagement with the words on the page, ensuring that we attend closely to the language and meaning. Our conversations often move from the language of the work to a consideration of all aspects of human experience: desire, power, parent/child relationships, justice, systems of belief, gender roles, racial identification, human relationships, the weight of history… these are areas that trigger thoughts and opinions for all of us. Those of you who have done the Salons know this – if you have wanted to do a Salon but have felt intimidated, dive in! Your reading will improve, and you will find you have much to offer.

Because the mind, like the body, needs to be stretched and pushed to grow and become more supple. I guarantee that our weekly conversations will at times be a curious caper through human experience, other times a struggle to grasp more clearly the workings of the human mind and how ideas and passions determine history.

As you work to understand and analyze a complex text, your ability to construct and articulate an argument will sharpen. Literary analysis leads to a greater capability to understand the workings of ideas and themes in all other areas including arts, music and media. Even- especially- if you survived your academic career without really understanding how to analyze a difficult text, you will find that you can develop these skills through our conversations about these dynamic works.