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Journey Stories | Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma Winter 2010

Stories of journeys are found in the myths, religions, literature, and history of every culture. Some journey stories explain the origin of a people as they emerge from the underground to live on the earth. Physical journeys are often undertaken to facilitate a spiritual journey inward, as in the vision quests of many cultures, or to symbolize a transition in status, as in the walkabout that transforms a youth to a man in aboriginal Australian culture. Underlying all of these stories is the conception of life as a journey. In western literary tradition, the grandfather of all journey stories is 'The Odyssey', so the series begins with Homer’s epic poem. Americans particularly have been lured by the siren song of the open road, and many of us have deliberately set out on journeys in search of adventure rather than a destination. 'On the Road', 'Travels with Charlie', and 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' all describe journeys of this kind. With our final reading, 'Life of Pi', we return to the realm of myth and fantasy with a story from beyond the United States. If you want to explore how these readings can move us, provoke us, inform us, and urge us onward today on our own journeys, please join us for this "Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma" reading and discussion series to explore and discover.

Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at 208-5472, emailing him at [email protected], or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library, Room 211 or 207. (Note the office is located in the five-story building southwest of Walker Center, and OCU closed Dec. 23-Jan. 4.) Please check out books IF you plan to attend the series.

The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning January 12 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through March 9. Books, services, and other materials for this series of programs are provided by "Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma," a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


1/12/2010 Homer's The Odyssey

Poets, novelists, film directors, and others have drawn on the story of Odysseus’ ten-year journey home from Troy to create new works or to reinterpret old ones. This epic narrative poem has simply become a kernel icon of our culture, a metaphor for what we need to learn or unlearn to live our life. Robert Fagles’ splendid new translation launches our journey.

1/26/2010 Jack Kerouac's On the Road

Based on travel journals of trips across the United States and to Mexico, Kerouac’s Whitmanesque experiences of raw energy on the road came to symbolize an anti-establishment free-spirited generation. Called the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, its impact on American culture continues to be felt 50 years later.

2/9/2010 John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie

Winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, Steinbeck set our on his trip “to rediscover this monster land” with only his French poodle Charley. As he drives the interstates and the country roads, he reflects on the American character and the loneliness he finds everywhere.

2/23/2010 Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

A father and a son’s summer motorcycle trip from the Twin Cities to San Francisco becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey or as the subtitle indicates, an “Inquiry into Values.” Celebrating the immediacy of their experience, they focus more on traveling than arriving anywhere.

3/9/2010 Yann Martel's The Life of Pi

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2002, Martel’s international bestseller is told from the point of view of a young man on the cusp of adulthood. Shipwrecked, he spends 227 days adrift on the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. With some parallels to 'The Odyssey', the Kiplingesque narrator faces a test of not only survival, but also the nature of truth itself. This fantastic journey can renew our belief in the power of the artist and the imagination.

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