IN PERSON: Winner of the 2016 National Book Award and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for literature, "The Underground Railroad" is a tour de force. Defying easy classification, it draws on author Colson Whitehead’s knowledge of historical materials and his imaginative reconfiguration of them. His central conceit—the invention of an actual subterranean railroad system on which an enslaved girl escapes from a Georgia plantation—is the vehicle that drives the novel. Whitehead does not shy away from the horrors of the period but counters them by showing the resistance and ingenuity of many. We will give this novel the close analytical reading it deserves and discuss, among other things, its wide array of characters, compelling narrative, episodic structure and historical underpinnings, and the points it makes about America, past and present. We will also read sections of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” a slave narrative that is set in North Carolina and has analogues to Whitehead’s novel. | Facilitated discussion.
Max enrollment: 15.
Location: Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 W. Cornwallis Rd, Durham NC 27705
Marjorie Lancaster did her undergraduate work at Duke and her graduate work at Tulane University. Since 2015 she has enjoyed teaching OLLI classes. For her, a good literature class is one that is fueled by the instructor's energy, the participants’ curiosity, a guided scrutiny of the text and inclusive participation that brings out the many facets of the work. She especially is looking forward to reading "The Underground Railroad" with fellow OLLI members.