John Updike’s America

Three Wednesdays, November 16, 30, and December 14, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. | Lectures by Professor Terrence Doody

When John Updike quit his job at the New Yorker and moved away from that literary scene to suburban Massachusetts, he set his task as a book a year. That was fifty years ago and he's done it - an incomparable achievement for a writer to whom the last half-century has not offered the spacious temporal field that the nineteenth century gave Balzac and Trollope. Yet, like them, Updike has now provided, in novels, stories, poems, reviews, and essays, more than one generation with a detailed account of the life of their time that few of his peers, if any, can even approach. He seems to know everything intimately and writes like the "Archangel" in Pigeon Feathers, whose"pleasures" are as specific as they are everlasting.”

To read an interview with John Updike, please click here.

Terrence Doody, professor of English at Rice University, will prepare us for John Updike's visit by discussing three of Updike's novels in the fall and three in the spring. This fall we will cover Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories; Rabbit, Run; and Couples (in this order). We will study the next three novels (to be announced) in January and February of the spring semester.

At the first class, participants may reserve, for a small additional charge, a ticket to the reading by John Updike, part of the Margarett Root Brown Inprint Reading Series at the Alley Theatre.


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Fall 2018 brochures are out! Please let us know if you did not receive one and we will be happy to send one to you.

Registration is now open. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


The interest list for the fall and spring study tours is also now open. If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez in the fall of 2018 or Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy.


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. Please contact the registrar if you would like to be wait listed for this course. 


Have a great summer. We look forward to seeing you this fall!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.