Rudyard Kipling: Strange Genius

Moderators: Michael Wolff & Penny Johnson
Role of participants: Read resource materials; research and present on a topic for approximately 30 minutes; lead discussion on one’s own presentation; and join in discussion with others.
Number of participants (including the moderators): 17
Time: Wednesdays, 10 am–noon
Place: Applewood, 1st Floor Meeting Room, One Spencer Drive, Amherst
Parking: Ample parking on site; please park on the outside curve of Spencer Drive, not in the parking lot!

In this seminar we will explore Kipling’s life and works, centering on The Just So Stories, The Jungle Books, and Kim, with attention to both to his career and its Imperial context.

*Note: May plan extra sessions to show movies and/or take a field trip.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), the first British recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1907), was born in India. He is often popularly seen as an imperialist, a racist, and male chauvinist, but his best work surprisingly avoids these prejudices.   In the seminar we will read and discuss the three assigned books as well as other  works by him (poetry, journalism, etc.) and about him (biographies, his autobiography, correspondence, anything to do with the 20th century British Empire, especially India).  Kipling also has local connections:  He and his family were longtime residents of Dummerston, Vermont, in a house he and his wife built and called “Naulakha,” after a beautiful pavilion in Lahore.  (There may be an opportunity to visit.)

Format: Seminar

Resources: Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books (2013, Penguin Classics), Just So Stories (2011, Penguin Classics), and Kim (2011, Penguin Classics) — all paperbacks.

The moderators: Michael is a native Londoner, whose research since the 1950s has been on various aspects of Victorian Britain.  He has moderated many seminars, beginning with George Eliot and most recently with Noel Coward. Penny Johnson is a retired teacher of medieval history and a life-long devotee of Kipling’s Just So Stories and The Jungle Books.

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