Registration open for fall literature seminar with Phil Weinstein


Philip Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English Emeritus at Swarthmore College, will present the next in the ongoing program series “Islanders Read the Classics” with a six-part seminar on “Fictions of the Law.” According to a press release, his free seminar is sponsored by the Vineyard Haven Public Library, and will be held on Wednesday evenings at the Katharine Cornell Theater, 51 Spring St., Vineyard Haven. 

“Fictions of the Law” will study three classic novels: Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House” (1852), Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” (1866), and Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” (1925). Participants are encouraged to read the books in advance; however, it is not required. Copies of the books may be requested through your local library.

According to Professor Weinstein, the series’ title — “Fictions of the Law” — should be understood in at least two ways. “On the one hand, we are reading three classic novels that circulate obsessively around the concept of the law, both criminal and civil. But each novel does this in its own ways, and the three of them differ starkly in approach, implication, and resonance. The other way to understand ‘Fictions of the Law’ is to grasp that ‘law’ itself is held up to an imaginative probing — is shown to be in disturbing ways fictional — in all three novels. You may come away from each novel wondering, afresh, ‘What is law?’”

The series begins on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7 pm with a discussion of “Bleak House,” continuing Oct. 2. “Crime and Punishment” will be discussed on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6, and the seminar will conclude with a discussion of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” on Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. In order to allow the library to prepare class materials and communicate with students, participants are encouraged to sign up in advance at the library, or register online at