Reading Edith Wharton

Four Wednesdays, March 21 and 28, and April 4 and 11, 1:00–2:30 p.m. | Four private houses; addresses will be given to subscribers Limited enrollment

Edith Wharton, arguably the most important early twentieth-century American woman of letters, won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence; received an honorary doctorate of letters from Yale University, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This series of four lectures by Caroline Levander will consider Edith Wharton’s life and career as revealed in her major novels. We will begin with House of Mirth (1905), which established her international literary reputation. The subject of the second meeting will be Ethan Frome (1911), written after Wharton settled in Paris and helped her husband through a nervous breakdown. We then turn to Summer (1917), written amid the devastation of war-torn France. Our final session will be devoted to The Age of Innocence (1920), the culminating novel of her career.

Caroline Field Levander is a professor of English and director of the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. She is the author of Cradle of Liberty: Race, the Child, and National Belonging from Thomas Jefferson to W. E. B. Du Bois (2006).

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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.