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Winter Weekend Home


















Great Expectations

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

March 8 - 9, 2013
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine

Winter Weekend 2013 was a great success! We debuted our ranked-voting system and chose Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment for next year. Runners-up included:

  • 2. Absalom, Absalom! (W. Faulkner)
  • 3. The Voyage of the Beagle (C. Darwin)
  • 4. Kristin Lavransdatter (S. Undset)
  • 5. The Portrait of a Lady (H. James)
  • 6. Ulysses (J. Joyce)
  • 7. One Hundred Years of Solitude (G. G. Márquez)
  • 8. Moby Dick (H. Melville)
  • 9. Pride and Prejudice (J. Austen)
  • 10. King Lear (W. Shakespeare)

On the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, the Maine Humanities Council is delighted to announce our first Dickens novel for Winter Weekend. Great Expectations, one of Dickens’s mature novels, is replete with his trademark colorful characters and biting criticism of society. This bildungsroman is a powerful and dramatic story from Dickens at his prime.

From Pip himself, an orphan living with his abusive adult sister and her gentle blacksmith husband, to the egocentric Miss Havisham, who has raised her ward Estella to be all that a Victorian woman should not, Dickens explores the cruelty of the class system and the restrictions facing women in Victorian England—and so much more.

Great Expectations begins with a crime—a pie stolen by Pip for a convict in chains who confronts him in a churchyard at night. This crime has a long and lasting impact, but not in obvious ways. This novel illustrates the gray areas of crime and punishment, and takes wry aim at the English legal system (one of Dickens’s favorite targets). But most prominent among its themes is the concept of inventing oneself—or re-defining when fortunes change and life lessons become clearer.

Winter Weekend is a humanities experience that, though lectures and discussions, unites historians, writers, artists, public intellectuals, and others to help us understand each year’s book in its rich historical and cultural context.

In 2013, we will be reading the 1996 hardcover Penguin Classic edition of Great Expectations. Local libraries and bookstores may also be able to provide a recorded version.

Speakers include:
  • Rosemarie Bodenheimer, Professor at Boston College and author of Knowing Dickens (Cornell U. Press, 2007.)
  • Jacqueline Field, independent scholar and author of American Silk, 1830-1930: Entrepreneurs and Artifacts (Texas Tech U. Press, 2007.)
  • Declan Kiely, Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at The Morgan Library & Museum (NYC) and curator of the recent exhibition Charles Dickens at 200.
  • Lillian Nayder, Professor at Bates College and author of The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth (Cornell U. Press, 2011.)
  • Dianne Sadoff, Professor at Rutgers University and author of Victorian Vogue: British Novels on Screen (U. of Minnesota Press, 2010.)

Winter Weekend 2013 will take place March 8 and 9 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. The $225 registration fee includes a copy of the book, background readings, a reception, dinner, lunch, and coffee. CEUs are available for teachers. Limited scholarships are available for college and high school students. The program starts at 5 p.m. on Friday and continues until mid-afternoon on Saturday.

We have a one-page list of some over-night accommodations in the greater Brunswick area; download it as a pdf form.

The Inn at Brunswick Station, across the street from Bowdoin, is offering Winter Weekend participants a special rate of $139 for Friday night. To get this rate, participants should call the hotel (207-837-6565) and ask for the Maine Humanities Council Winter Weekend rate.

The Brunswick Inn, also near Bowdoin, is offering Winter Weekend participants a special rate of $150 per night, which includes a full breakfast. To get this rate, participants should call the inn (800-299-4914 or 207-729-4914) and ask for the Maine Humanities Council's Winter Weekend rate.

A map of Bowdoin can be found on the Bowdoin website.

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