Political Novels, Personal Stories, and “The Idea of America”

Instructor:  Duncan Newcomer

  • Thursday Afternoon
  • 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Text Required & Suggested Reading

“O, I see flashing that this America is only you and me.” –Walt Whitman

How would you like to sit down by the fire some wintry day and listen to John Steinbeck talk about America? Or Harper Lee, or Mark Twain? That’s what we will do in the first hour of this four-week course, read passages aloud from our favorite American novels. These books have defined what America means for us, with the scenes and characters and language that have made America great or not. In the second hour we will share personal stories of the events in our own lives that have defined what America means to us now, good or bad. Democracy and social progress come out of conversation first, political public policy second. Not only are all politics local, they are verbal.

Required text: “The Pocket Guide” ISBN 978-0-87935-291-2 available on first day of class from the instructor for $2.95.

Suggesting readings: “Imagining a Great Republic: Political Novels and the Idea of America,” by Thomas Cronin, $39.95 and “The Idea of America: Our Values, Our Legacy, Our Future,” by John O. Wilson, $25.00 Available through Colonial Williamsburg Foundation or The Idea of America Network, ISBN 978-0-87935-2291-2

Rev. Dr. Duncan Newcomer has taught “The Idea of America”; “Quiet Fire: The Spiritual Life of Abraham Lincoln,” and Maine history at Senior College in Brunswick and Belfast. He has a radio feature on WERU weekly called Quiet Fire, is a consultant with Coming of Age In America Game Loft, and is a writer, teacher, preacher, spiritual director, and the author of “Desperately Seeking Mary.”