Susan Barnett

Susan Barnett holds a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from Queens College. She has taught at Bronx Community College and at Fairleigh Dickinson. She has also taught ESL for many years in the Teaneck Public Schools as well as at the Tenafly Adult Education program.

Related Courses

2.3.2 Stellar Short Stories: American Authors

We will look at a selection of stories by Edith Wharton, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Ring Lardner, perhaps familiar but well-worth re-reading and discussing. These stories will be made available through email to the students before each session. We begin with “Roman Fever,” by Edith Wharton, to be emailed to those registered for the class. (More titles will follow when the class meets.) NEW!

1.3.1 Novel Beginnings: First Chapters

How do authors begin their stories? We will read and discuss first chapters representing a variety of forms of narration and style, beginning with Dickens’ David Copperfield, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Anthony Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds. Copies of these will be sent to members of the class before the first session. The remaining selections will be presented when the class meets. NEW!

The Fabulous First Chapter of “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride

When reading or re-reading the opening of this award-winning novel, we enter a world described through a satiric lens. We will examine and discuss the ways in which the author uses the brilliant devices of comedy to show us people and places as we have not seen them before. Have the book with you for the class.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Very Timely Novel

How has Mark Twain’s Huck survived eviction by librarians, attacks for its use of racial slurs, and criticism for literary crimes? What connections can be made between the America Mark Twain writes about and the one in which we live today? Let’s read, re-read, and discuss. NEW!

Fifth Business: Introducing Robertson Davies

If you have read anything written by this Canadian writer, he needs no introduction, and is well worth re-reading. Otherwise, welcome to a “marvelously enigmatic novel, elegantly written and driven by irresistible narrative force,” as described in Christopher Lehman-Haupt’s New York Times Book Review. The latest Penguin edition is preferred but not required! NEW!

A Writer’s Journey

In her short story, “An Unwritten Novel,” Virginia Woolf shows us glimpses of her creative process as she describes an ordinary trip by train and focuses on a particular passenger, unknown to the narrator.  Once again, the magic of Woolf’s remarkable use of language and imagination is on display. Please read the story before class. It can be found at:

Clarissa Vaughn (Session Two): A Day in Her Life

In The Hours, Michael Cunningham describes the world of his heroine living in New York City at the end of the twentieth century, during the AIDS crisis. He begins with a moving description of the last day of Virginia Woolf’s life. The new virus is devastating to the lives of many, including Clarissa’s friend, Richard, for whom she is preparing a party. An award-winning motion picture was made of The Hours, which we will also discuss. The previous session (class 1.3.2) is not required but is recommended.

Clarissa Dalloway (Session 1): A Day in Her Life

A new edition of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is out this January, one hundred years after the Spanish flu pandemic ravaged the world. Although not mentioned directly in the novel, that epidemic affected various characters, including Clarissa Dalloway herself. As she prepares for a dinner party, we learn about post-World War I London as well as the lives of those close to the heroine. In addition to reading the novel, we will also compare it to the 1997 movie starring Vanessa Redgrave, available on YouTube.