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JAN 27- Everything Old Is New Again: Rewriting The Classics

How do contemporary writers rewrite timeless classics, or how is Bridget Jones's Diary a rewrite of Pride and Prejudice? We'll explore these connections and others.

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Everything Old Is New Again: Rewriting the Classics

As Willa Cather once famously noted in _O Pioneers_, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” Given that insight, we’ll look at several classic literary texts and at contemporary, sometimes popular culture, texts that rewrite these predecessors. We’ll explore these “timeless” classics  and ask how their literary descendants reflect their timelessness in terms of  both the themes and characters they introduce and in the way that they expand or play with the originals.

Shakespeare’s King Lear paired with Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre paired with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca

E.M. Forster’s Howards End paired with Zadie Smith’s On Beauty

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice paired with Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary

This workshop will meet every Wednesday, beginning Jan. 27, 2021, at the same time for 13 consecutive weeks (ending April 21). Three of the weeks are set aside for reading (Feb. 17, March 10, and March 31). 

Class size is limited to 12 students so that all participants get some personal attention.

If you are a Humanities ND member this event is free. You can find the promo code in the Vault at

This class is taught by Rebecca Chalmers. Rebecca Chalmers has spent her adult life on the study of literature. A Ph.D. in English (with concentrations in American literature, film studies, and critical theory) led her to a rich and rewarding academic career, the last thirteen years of which were spent with the English program at the University of Mary in Bismarck, and in regular work with the North Dakota Humanities Council. Currently she resides on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she works as an independent scholar, with occasional university classes, and in freelance editing and writing, all while she continues to pen her own poetry and short stories.

HND Value Statement

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota.

However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally.

Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University.

To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

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