Reading—and Writing—About Three Key Themes in Literature

Struggle and hope. Myth and Mystery. Life and death. In literature, just as in life, these subjects appear and assert themselves continually—no doubt because they reside at the core of our common humanity. By honing in and guiding participants in the exploration of these three rich, timeless and universal themes, Paul McComas both (1) helps readers gain additional insights into whatever books they'll choose to read throughout the rest of their lives, and (2) aids and encourages writers (of fiction, memoir, personal essay, and poetry alike) in the development of their own techniques for bringing the human condition to light, and to life, on the written page. The class will study and discuss excerpts from the works of, among others, these authors: William Shakespeare, Alice Sebold, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, P.D. James, Tony Earley, Carson McCulers, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Joseph Iron-Eye Dudley, and Adalbert Stifter. Also included: the occasional song that addresses the theme at hand—song lyrics being, after all, a type of poetry -- and, each evening, in the an (optional) screening and discussions of feature-films that embody the various themes.  This seminar is open both to readers and to working/aspiring writers.

Paul McComas ’83 is the author of six critically acclaimed books: the novels Planet of the Dates and Unplugged; the short story collections Unforgettable: Harrowing Futures, Horrors, and (Dark) Humor and Twenty Questions: Short and Very Short Stories; the novella Fit for a Frankenstein; and the playlets collection Uncanny Encounters -- LIVE which premiered on stage in Milwaukee last Halloween weekend. He is also the editor of the well-reviewed fiction anthologies First Person Imperfect and Further Persons Imperfect.  He has taught writing, literature, and film/media at every level up through Master's programs, and at academic sites including Northwestern and National-Louis Universities (both of which honored him with teaching awards), the University of Chicago, and Tribeca Flashpoint Academy of Media Arts. Paul serves on both the National Leadership Council and the Speakers Bureau of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and he is active in Patrick J. Kennedy's The Kennedy Forum and One Mind for Mental Health; Rape Victim Advocates; The Awkenings Foundation (helping rape survivors heal through the arts); and the Awakenings Project (mental health advocacy). Paul has received recognition awards from the Mental Health Association, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin State Senate. To learn more about Paul's work, visit

Required Reading: "The Blue Star" by Tony Earley.

Optional Reading: "Jim the Boy" by Tony Earley.

Sunday, September 17, 2017 to Friday, September 22, 2017
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Poetry & Writing; Literature

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