The Dallas Institute is delighted to announce upcoming courses, a new film series, and the return of the Allums Book Group.



Gender: Myth & Mystery I

What is a man? What is a woman? These questions, so vexed today, are hardly new. We will consider the surprising perspectives to be gained from the exploration of ancient Greek mythology and literature.  Our conversations of literature and myth will be leisurely, not intense.  In this course, therefore, we will not engage present-day political or social issues directly. Instead, with minds as open as possible, we will seek to deepen our appreciation of gender and its mysteries by way of ancient myths and literature. The Fall class will focus on early accounts of Greek mythology: Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s epics and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. A Spring semester course focusing on later writings will follow

  • Place: The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (Covid-willing, or online, as necessary)
    Time: 6:30-8:30 pm
    Meetings:  6:30-8:30 PM, First Tuesday of the month, September 7, 2021 – December 7, 2021
    Dates: Sep 7; Oct. 5; Nov. 2; Dec. 7;
    Tuition: $200 for the Fall series ($150 for members; FREE for members who are full-time teachers)
  • The Works and Days; Theogony; The Shield of Herakles; Hesiod; Lattimore, trans.; U. of Michigan Press; ISBN: 0472081616
  • The Iliad of Homer; Lattimore, trans.; U of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226470490
  • The Odyssey of Homer; Lattimore, trans.; Harper; ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780061244186
  • Homeric Hymn to Demeter; Nagy, trans. Available free online:
  • https://chs.harvard.edu/primary-source/homeric-hymn-to-demeter-sb/




Reading the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata, an ancient epic of India, depicts a moment of profound cultural crisis, as longstanding norms and ideals are called into question. Now more than ever the old Indian epic feels timely, since we too may stand on an epochal threshold. Approaching the epic from a literary and philosophical point of view, we will read carefully some of its most famous episodes, seeking to appreciate its intense poetic beauty, and to discuss the wisdom offered there.  Questions to be considered include: What is a god? What is a human? What is a man? What is a woman? How ought humans relate to the gods?  What is owed to one’s family? To one’s teacher?  To one’s principles? What is human nobility?  How can one discern and enact one’s own proper role in life? What is wisdom itself? How can these matters be expressed in poetry?

Place: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (Covid-willing, or online as necessary)
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Meetings: Second Tuesday of the month, September 14, 2021 – December 14, 2021
Dates:  Sep. 14; Oct. 12; Nov. 9; Dec. 14
Text: Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling; Satyamurti, translator; Norton, publisher; ISBN: 0393352498
Tuition: $200 for the Fall series ($150 for members; FREE for members who are full-time teachers)
Professors: Drs. Ali and McShane




The Allums Book Group: a Contemporary Fiction Discussion Group

The Dallas Institute’s book groups have a long history and long list of contemporary novels read since 1998 that is climbing steadily toward 200 titles. Some, of course, have been more memorable than others, some have made surprising impacts on us, and a small few are perhaps best forgotten. Throughout our many discussions over the years, we have learned much about cultures and characters depicted by authors from around the world, and also about reading itself. True, reading is a solitary activity, but coming together in conversation, even online, is to participate in the joy of sharing ourselves in an atmosphere of civility and generosity. It’s a good place to be.

This course meets at noon on the days listed below. You may sign up for whatever course suits your schedule best.

Food. Because of Covid constraints, alas, no food can be served indoors at these events, until further notice. However, light lunch will be provided at 11:45AM on the Thomas House patio prior to discussions.
Place: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (Covid-willing, or online as necessary)
Professor: Dr. Larry Allums
Dates: Sept. 22, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, Dec. 15
Tuition:  $100/class session or  $400 total. Teachers free with membership.

  • The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich
  • The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, Richard Flanagan




Dallas Institute Film Series: What Makes a City?

Since its founding forty years ago, the Dallas Institute has been inviting imaginative answers to an earnest question—“What Makes a City?” This fall, we will consider the CITY as a character in some iconic films (as well as lesser known gems) from various time periods and cultural traditions.  (Stay tuned for more films on this theme next Spring!)

Join us on Friday evenings to watch and discuss some classic movies at the Dallas Institute—where “classic” is broadly defined and conversation is sparkling.

Place: Nancy Cain Marcus Conference Center, Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (Covid willing)
Time: 6:30 pm gathering time; 7pm screen time.
Dates: 3rd Friday of the month, October – December 2021

October 15, November 19, December 17
Admission: Free for all Dallas Institute members

  • City Lights: Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece features a triad of archetypal characters characteristic of any great city: a tramp, a millionaire, and an ingenue. (Oct. 15)
  • The Lives of Others (2007 Academy Award, Best Foreign Film):  The idea of a “walled city” takes on a darker resonance when the setting is cold-war Berlin. The Lives of Others depicts a community of artists contending with the strictures of continual surveillance. What happens to a city and its artists when the imagination itself is suspect? (Nov. 19)
  • La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2014 Academy Award, Best Foreign Film): The eternal city, Rome itself, in gorgeous, decadent decline, is the star of this film. If a great city is in decay, what can be said about its most prominent citizens? (Dec. 17)