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The masterpieces of the Western canon are packed with meaningful details, intentionally crafted by authors to reward a careful reading of their text. The longer we immerse ourselves in a work of literature, the more enriched we will be by the significance of an author's word play, imagery, style, and structure. For this reason, CenterForLit has begun offering seminar-length deep studies on some of our favorite works.

This autumn, Ian and Emily Andrews will be leading a deep study of one of the more controversial and misunderstood works of American literature, The Scarlet Letter. Perfect for crisp fall days, this story of Puritan Boston will come alive during four days of focused discussion and interpretation. The seminar will be aimed at high school students, as well as interested teachers and parents who wish to join. Discover why Hawthorne's classic is so interwoven throughout the fabric of American culture and redeem your understanding of a work that has been sorely misjudged.  

Ian holds a BA in literature from Hillsdale College and has taught with CenterForLit for four years. He has lectured on The Scarlet LetterĀ around the country.

Ian holds a BA in literature from Hillsdale College and has taught with CenterForLit for four years. He has lectured on The Scarlet Letter around the country.

Emily Andrews graduated from Hillsdale College in 2014 with a BA in literature and history. This is her fourth year of teaching with CenterForLit. She is the author of the Scarlet Letter teacher guide found in CFL's High School edition of Ready Readers.

Emily Andrews graduated from Hillsdale College in 2014 with a BA in literature and history. This is her fourth year of teaching with CenterForLit. She is the author of the Scarlet Letter teacher guide found in CFL's High School edition of Ready Readers.

Course Schedule

Day 1: Monday October 30 (7:00-8:30 p.m. EST / 4:00-5:30 p.m. PST)

  • Context and Setting
  • We will look at the conditions of the time in which Hawthorne wrote, as well the historical context and description of his chosen Puritan setting, as a foundation for the discussion of Hawthorne's perspective on universal ideas.

Day 2: Tuesday October 31 (7:00-8:30 p.m. EST / 4:00-5:30 p.m. PST)

  • Characters
  • We will dive into the personae dramatis with the goal of finding empathetic figures where we might not expect to find them. We will see how Hawthorne drew on the tropes of the Western literary tradition in order to add depth to his characters.

Day 3: Wednesday November 1 (7:00-8:30 p.m. EST / 4:00-5:30 p.m. PST)

  • Plot and Conflict
  • We will read the events of the story closely, paying careful attention to Hawthorne's descriptive language and narrative structure.

Day 4: Thursday November 2 (7:00-8:30 p.m. EST / 4:00-5:30 p.m. PST)

  • Conclusion and Theme
  • How does the story fit into the Great Conversation? What does Hawthorne have to say to us and do we agree with him?

Course Objectives

  • Find a powerful embodied portrait of orthodox grace and compassion in a work many understand to either embrace harsh legalism or excuse licentiousness.
  • Engage in deep conversation about and careful reading of The Scarlet Letter slowly over the course of 4 days.
  • Explore the historical context and setting of Hawthorne's work in a way that will enliven an experience of the story.
  • Be introduced to a foundational work of American literature, helpful for understanding the past and present conditions of the country.

Course Details

  • Participants will be required to read The Scarlet Letter in full before our first meeting on October 30.
  • This seminar is appropriate for high school students and adults. 
  • Time: classes meet between 7:00-8:30 p.m. EST (4:00-5:30 p.m. PST) from October 30 - November 2, 2017.
  • Technology: Like our Online Academy classes, we will use the GoToWebinar conferencing service (included in tuition), which provides screen-sharing and live audio with chat.  Students raise hands to participate aloud, or chat privately with instructors.
  • Recordings: Class notes and recordings will be made permanently available to all students. 
  • Features: Students will have access to a class webpage with supplemental resources, as well as a discussion board, moderated by the instructors. Students will there be able to continue class discussion after hours with their classmates. 
  • Tuition: $119 (Pelican Society: $107)

*Upon registration you will receive an email containing a downloadable packet with information and instructions regarding accessing webinars and the Google classroom platform.*

We appreciate the responsibility involved in choosing curriculum materials for your students, and we ask you to make this decision carefully. If your plans change and your student must withdraw from a class, CenterForLit can transfer your registration to a different class or to a future term; however, THERE ARE NO REFUNDS FOR ONLINE CLASS REGISTRATIONS.