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The Swarming City

Dr. Joan Arbery

In the biblical tradition, Cain’s curse leads to the building of the first city, often resulting in an understanding of the urban world as infernal. But is the city as dark and dangerous as we imagine? However much it causes harms–alienation, anomie, and diseases, among them–the city is equally a space for healing. Looking at Baudelaire’s Paris, Joyce’s Dublin, T.S. Eliot and Elizabeth Bowen’s London, and Borges’ Buenos Aires, we will re-envision their cities as purgatorial. Closely following the ancient Greek myths of Philomela and Tiresias, as well as the Christian pilgrim Dante, across some of our texts, we will also see how these figures relate to the purgatorial landscape. In sum, is swarming, despite its insect-like nature, maybe a healthy human activity after all?

Class materials and audio [password protected]

Four Thursdays, April 6, 13, 20, & 27; 6:30 pm to 8:30
Members $110, Non-members $125, Member Teachers $35
At the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (2719 Routh Street, Dallas, 75201)

About Dr. Joan Arbery

Joan Arbery received her BA in English from the University of Dallas and her PhD in Literature from the University of Notre Dame. She now teaches in the Discernment and Discourse program at SMU, where she enjoys developing courses on contemporary education, urban space, and artificial intelligence.

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