Book group looks at socioeconomic inequality

The winter session of the Case Off-Campus Studies program in Westlake will study Charles Dickens’ "Little Dorrit," a novel that looks at socioeconomic issues, some of which we are still addressing here and now. The leader-teacher for this course is Cheryl Wires.

Charles Dickens unleashed the full powers of his socioeconomic conscience and storytelling imagination in writing "Little Dorrit." We will examine these mighty forces in this book discussion course. They make "Little Dorrit" a must-read classic, especially since it is overshadowed by Dickens’ more popularized works.

Little Amy Dorrit is born in a debtor’s prison, but her life changes dramatically from abject poverty to abundant riches. We will discuss this novel on many levels: as a creatively plotted, serialized story by the inimitable Dickens; as an extended psychological meditation on freedom and family; and as a piercing social criticism of Victorian England, with its financial crises, unresponsive institutions and extreme inequalities. Comparing across time and place, we draw similarities, and differences, with America today. "Little Dorrit" is Dickens’ conscience and imagination unleashed!

Cheryl Wires, the leader-teacher for this course, attended Harvard University, where she earned a master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government, a masters degree in political science from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Levenson Award for Excellence and Dedication in Teaching. She volunteered as a lecturer for the Institute for Learning in Retirement at Baldwin Wallace University for nearly a decade.

Off-Campus Studies is a program offered in collaboration with the Association for Continuing Education (ACE). Courses are eight weeks long and meet for 1.5 hours per class. There are no written assignments or exams, but rather the classes provide an open environment for lively discussion based on meaningful examination of shared texts. Leader-teachers facilitate the discussion and provide academic background and context.

This group meets on Thursdays, Jan. 14 to March 3, from 10-11:30 a.m. at Westlake United Methodist Church, 27650 Center Ridge Road. Cost is $80. Participation is open to everyone and we welcome new members with enthusiasm. To register, go to or call 216-368-2090.

For questions, contact one of the co-coordinators, Sandra Berendt, 440-892-4931; or Joan Grace, 440-777-9381.

Joan Grace

Co-coordinator for Case Off-Campus Studies in Westlake; member of NEOPC also.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 10:00 AM, 01.05.2016