“Reading the Invisible: A Readers’ Workshop”
Advanced level, $500.00
January 11–15, 2016

Workshop Description

I hope we can direct our attention toward the invisible aspects of literature, such as tone, subtext, and allusions to other works. To some extent, reading always requires detective work—and of course it helps to have read a lot, though many things whiz by me all the time, like shooting stars. I miss a lot. How to slow things down and read not in a plodding way, but to be sensitized and open to the possibility that texts—for better or worse—are contextualized by the literature that precedes them (sometimes even without the writers even being aware of this).

I believe it was Wayne C. Booth who pointed out that literature is in dialogue with other literature. If so, let’s see some examples of how that expands the meaning of a particular short story. How being aware of the underpinnings of a garment, or the architecture of a building, allows us to see its surface in a different way. Let’s look at some short stories by (for example) Richard Ford, Claire Davis, Joy Williams, and Alice Munro, and see if we can figure out how they’ve been constructed. It will help to read out of the genre, so we’ll also look at some contemporary poetry and (why not?) a few magazine ads. It will help to have recently read T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and James Joyce’s “The Dead.”


• The full cost of this four-day workshop is $500.00. A deposit may be required to hold your place.

• This workshop is open to serious readers who are excited by the challenge of reading with greater attention. Participants are expected to have a strong background in literature, either academic or self-directed. Artists, poets, and those who view the world deeply and presently are encouraged to attend.

• In addition to The Waste Land and The Dead, students will be expected to read other assigned texts in advance of the class; a packet of materials will be provided in the fall.

• Please note that this is not a writers’ workshop and there will be no discussion of participants’ own work. Class size is limited to twelve participants.

• Update: This workshop is now full.

About Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie’s fiction has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s Best American Short Stories 2014. She received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story, and the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, the painter Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.