Winter Weekend

Podcast Ann Kibbie

Winter Weekend Free Preview Talk: “The Way We Live Now”

Winter Weekend (March 9-10, 2018, at Bowdoin College), which dives deep into a celebrated work of literature over two days, offers a rejuvenating break from the mid-winter doldrums. Get a sneak peek of next March’s program with this free preview talk by Professor of English Ann Kibbie from Bowdoin College. In “The Way We Live Now:… Read more

Read More

Winter Weekend 2018

Money, corruption, and greed are the chief themes of The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, a satirical portrait of London society. Enter Augustus Melmotte, a financier with lavish tastes, a man reputedly rich beyond most characters’ wildest imaginations. The rumors shadowing him—of fraud and jail time in Europe—don’t stop London from bowing at his feet. Quite… Read more

Read More

Winter Weekend 2017

In Palace Walk, Naguib Mahfouz gives Arab literature a Dickensian portrait of a patriarch: 45-year-old Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd Al-Jawad, father and husband, despot and lecher, a man who demands strict adherence to the tenets of Islam inside his home, though he is indiscreet and unfaithful to a great many of them outside. The story chronicles the awakening… Read more

Read More

winter weekend poster

Winter Weekend 20th anniversary poster

  In honor of the 20th anniversary of Winter Weekend, we’re offering a limited edition 12″ x 15″ commemorative poster highlighting all the books we’ve read for the program. Order yours now for $20.     Read more

Read More

The Trickle-Down of Winter Weekend

  By Diane Magras, Director of Development Claire Moriarty and Jim Bulteel, members of Orono High School’s English Department (with Erika Dixon, Amanda Johnston, Don Joseph, and Chris Luthin), are among a group of educators who have, in various combinations, attended Winter Weekend for the past 15 years. For years, I’ve heard about these teachers… Read more

Read More

Reflections on Winter Weekend 2016

After attending my first Winter Weekend, I was admittedly a bit more tired than I normally am at the end of a standard work week. With my drive into the office the following Monday morning, and with the task of listening through the collected audio recordings of the weekend’s speakers, I began to reflect on… Read more

Read More

Winter Weekend 2016

Widely acclaimed as a masterpiece of Latin American literature, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a classic example of magic realism that has inspired countless authors worldwide since its publication in 1967. (It helped García Márquez win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.) Within this text, García Márquez weaves a multi-generational story of the… Read more

Read More

100 Years of Solitude book

Dinner in Macondo: Winter Weekend Recipes

One of the highlights of each year’s Winter Weekend is the Friday night meal evoking the culinary traditions of that year’s book. In 2016, we visited the mythical Colombian town of Macondo from Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Bowdoin College’s Dining Services put together a delicious feast of Colombian specialties, the recipes for which… Read more

Read More

The Magic (and Influences) of Winter Weekend

By Diane Magras If you’re a Winter Weekend regular, you know Alexis DesRoches. And you may have seen her name in a New Yorker article about the Dickens Project. Alexis has been a Winter Weekend regular since 2004 and has taken the event as an inspiration to become involved with and create a great many… Read more

Read More

In Remembrance of Winter Weekends Past

  By Diane Magras Since 1999, Sharon Estell has attended Winter Weekend. She says she would have come to the first (in 1998) but she couldn’t get in—it was sold out at 100. But she’s what we call a regular, so I asked her at this last Winter Weekend to share her thoughts on the… Read more

Read More

William Faulkner Absalom Absalalom

Winter Weekend 2015

March 6 – 7, 2015, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine Of all the major Southern writers, none is so indelibly linked with the Civil War and its aftermath as the Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner, inventor and “sole proprietor” of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. In his greatest work, Absalom, Absalom!, he tells the story of the biracial family of… Read more

Read More

Charles Calhoun Great Books

Charles Calhoun: Great Books

In this episode we join Charles Calhoun, author of the biography Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life and founder/emcee of Winter Weekend for a talk on great books. This is a recording of an event held on July 21, 2014 at the Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick, Maine. Calhoun discusses the definition of a great book and… Read more

Read More

Crime and Punishment

Winter Weekend 2014

March 7 – 8, 2014, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine Can murder be a moral act, leading to a social good? Do those who believe themselves to be of powerful moral capacity have the right to murder their fellow human beings to achieve such an aim? A positive answer to these questions leads Rodoin Raskolnikov to murder his… Read more

Read More

Great Expectations

Winter Weekend 2013

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,… Read more

Read More

The Iliad

Winter Weekend 2012

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Winter Weekend, the Maine Humanities Council returns to the epic poet with whom we started this popular series of public humanities programs in 1997. This time, we explore Homer’s The Iliad—the earliest surviving work in European literature and the foundational text of Greek civilization. The Iliad takes place over 51 days,… Read more

Read More

The Red and the Black

Winter Weekend 2011

The text for Winter Weekend 2011 is Stendhal’s 1830 novel: The Red and the Black. Does a young intellectual from a provincial town have much of a chance in 19th century Parisian society? Stendhal’s psychological portrait of Julien Sorel and his love affairs mesh well with a satiric depiction of religious and society life. Read more

Read More


Winter Weekend 2010

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is an English masterpiece that follows the social and intellectual lives of very human characters in a small provincial town. Read more

Read More

War and Peace

Winter Weekend 2009

The 12th annual Winter Weekend tackled Tolstoy’s War and Peace in the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. As in previous years, the program combined stimulating lectures by academic specialists, lively small-group discussions, and an opportunity to take part in a community of almost 150 readers from Maine and beyond. Participants were transported—by their reading… Read more

Read More


Winter Weekend 2008

What is The Aeneid? An epic story of an ancient hero and his struggles with mortals and gods, a homage to the emperor Augustus, or an attempt to compete with Homer? The 2008 Winter Weekend explored these issues in-depth on March 7 and 8 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick to an audience of more than 150…. Read more

Read More

Canterbury Tales

Winter Weekend 2007

Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales with his famous evocation of “Aprill with his shoures sote” and some general remarks on the English proclivity to “goon on pilgrimages,” but the author quickly gets down to business. I’m going to tell you what they were wearing, he announces—“and eek in what array that they were inne” (line 41)—as he… Read more

Read More

Swann's Way

Winter Weekend 2006

Our offering this year is Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust. We will be using the new translation by Lydia Davis. Not much “happens” in Proust: a young man (who may or may not be the author) grows up, falls in and out of love, meets some more or less interesting people in the upper reaches of French… Read more

Read More

Don Quixote

Winter Weekend 2005

March 11-12, Bowdoin College, Brunswick Our offering was Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, in the translation by Edith Grossman. FELIPE III of Spain looked out the window one day and saw a young man laughing wildly. He’s either insane, the king remarked to a courtier, or he’s reading Don Quixote. The second half of the novel had… Read more

Read More

The Magic Mountain

Winter Weekend 2004

March 12-13, 2004 Bowdoin College, Brunswick Set in an Alpine sanatorium in the years just before World War I, Mann’s masterpiece is both a traditional European novel and a Modernist gamble on what is to come. Blending social comedy with philosophical speculation, The Magic Mountain (1924) tells the story of a young man’s education – political, spiritual,… Read more

Read More

Anna Karenina

Winter Weekend 2003

March 7-8, 2003, Bowdoin College, Brunswick An interdisciplinary symposium on one of the 19th century’s greatest novels, with special attention to small group discussion of the text. Anna Karenina tells two stories: the tragedy of a woman trapped in an unfulfilling marriage who takes a lover, and the happier story of an unfulfilled man who discovers… Read more

Read More


Winter Weekend 2002

March 1 – 2, 2002 Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine  Numerous commentators on the U.S. war in Afghanistan have reminded the public that the Taliban are our “Frankenstein’s monster” – a force we helped to create, only to see it turn against us. We have here one more example of what a powerful archetype the 21-year-old… Read more

Read More


Winter Weekend 2001

BEOWULF AND THE NORSE MILLENNIUM Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Me. March 2-3, 2001Central text: the new Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf Background reading: Lacey & Danziger’s The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is considered the foundational text for all poetry afterwards written in English…. Read more

Read More

Moby Dick

Winter Weekend 2000

What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding and jamming myself on all the time? — Captain Ahab Melville’s great white whale haunts the American imagination. Since publication… Read more

Read More

Dante's Inferno

Winter Weekend 1999

With the exception of Homer’s epics and The Bible, no other written work has had so deep an influence on the West as Dante’s Divine Comedy. Hundreds of translations and thousands of depictions by artists over the past 700 years attest to its imaginative power. Yet its best known part “The Inferno” poses many challenges to modern readers. Dante’s… Read more

Read More

The Odyssey

Winter Weekend 1998

At the Council’s first Winter Weekend in March of 1998, Maine readers took a voyage through the pages of Homer’s Odyssey with Robert Fagles’ highly readable new translation of the epic poem. In addition to a general discussion of the work, scholars focused on Homeric Archaeology and the episodes in the poem depicting Odysseus in… Read more

Read More

Faulkner at Rowan Oak, 1962

Mississippi Comes to Maine: 18 Years of Winter Weekend

By Charles Calhoun Only two degrees of separation lie between me and William Faulkner — well, three, if you count the horse. In 1965, as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, I took a course on literary biography from a young professor named Joseph Blotner. He was a brave man to teach such a… Read more

Read More

Expectations and Inspiration at Winter Weekend

By Sabrina Nickerson My first experience as a Winter Weekender began with a package. Returning home from work one cold, gray winter afternoon last winter, I found a manila envelope bearing the logo of the Maine Humanities Council…and my name. I was overjoyed, as the contents of the parcel revealed my own shiny new volume… Read more

Read More

Winter Weekend 2007: Chaucer

By Charles Calhoun Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales with his famous evocation of “Aprill with his shoures sote” and some general remarks on the English proclivity to “goon on pilgrimages,” but the author quickly gets down to business. I’m going to tell you what they were wearing, he announces—“and eek in what array that they… Read more

Read More

Winter Weekend—Past and Beyond

By Charles Calhoun   Felipe III of Spain looked out the window one day and saw a young man laughing wildly. He’s either insane, the king remarked to a courtier, or he’s reading Don Quixote. The second half of the novel had recently been printed, and already Cervantes’s work had become not just another tale, but… Read more

Read More

The Long Life of a Monster Reflections on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

“You’re going to read what?” That was a question fielded by more than one participant in this year’s Humanities Winter Weekend, dedicated to the 19-year-old Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. After a series of Very Important Books, what were we doing asking people to read so slight a volume – an… Read more

Read More