The Faculty of Arts proudly presents your guided tour through the landmarks of literature: 10 Great Books, a Melbourne Masterclass.
About 10 Great Books
The 10 Great Books series gives you a front row seat to learn about books that have shaped the way we see the world.
Each month from February to November 2022, an expert presenter from the University of Melbourne will explore a selected text to demonstrate how it reflects its environment and how it can help us examine our own. You’ll have the chance to connect directly with our speakers by asking questions and sharing your views as we dissect the legacies of these pivotal works.
This series is for lovers of reading and learning – no prior study in literature is required, just a desire to delve into old favourites and discover new ones. Guided by our host, the Rev Prof Russell Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, you'll benefit from a lifetime of expertise delivered directly to you via our online platform.
After almost a decade, 10 Great Books has built a vibrant community of passionate booklovers. Join us as we open a new chapter for 2022.
In 2022, 10 Great Books will once again use our online platform to distribute and showcase series content. As a subscriber, you'll have exclusive access to the platform from 1 February 2022 to 31 January 2023.
You'll deepen your understanding of each text by engaging with our academics, including:
- Masterclass video presentations from each speaker, released monthly
- Monthly Q&A sessions where you can discuss each speaker's chosen text with them live on Zoom.
You'll also be able to access:
- Insightful introductions to each text from our presenters to help guide your reading
- Further reading suggestions and resources to contextualise each book
- A monthly discussion forum where you can share your ideas and questions with the 10 Great Books community
- Recordings of each month's Q&A session.
If you're already part of a book club, our curated book list and online sessions make 10 Great Books an easy addition to your plans for 2022.
Book list and program schedule for 2022
Our book list for 2022 spans countries, cultures and millennia. You'll broaden your perspective as you encounter diverse voices on the issues that define our past and will shape our future – including gender, race, class and community.
See below for book, presenter and live Q&A details:
February: Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, 1949
One of the world’s best-known and most frequently staged works of modern drama, this play’s reputation testifies to its enduring relevance and mystery. A timeless classic that directs an unblinking gaze at the post-war moment of its creation.
Presented by Associate Professor Paul Rae, Associate Professor in Theatre Studies and Head of the School of Culture and Communication.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 22 February
March: Alexis Wright, Carpentaria, 2006
From the stunting impact of small-town racism to the destructive manipulations of a multinational mining operation, this acclaimed novel denounces neo-colonial powers in modern Australia and how they marginalise and stifle the Indigenous world out of agency.
Presented by Associate Professor Jeanine Leane, Associate Professor in Creative Writing and Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from south-west New South Wales.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 29 March
April: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813
This parable of style and aesthetic refinement is an icon of the literary canon and a contemporary pop-culture classic. While described by Austen herself as 'rather too light & bright & sparkling', its observations and moments of irony, satire and shade define it as a pivotal work of social realism.
Presented by Professor Clara Tuite, Professor of English.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 26 April
May: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace, 1999
With its provoking and sometimes disturbing vision of a father and daughter's life in post-apartheid South Africa, this Booker Prize-winning novel is deeply embedded in time and place. But in our age of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, its depictions of sex, race and power continue to resonate.
Presented by Professor Deirdre Coleman, Robert Wallace Chair of English and Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 31 May
June: William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, 1598
If love prevails here, it's in the least likely of ways. In a world governed by superficiality, we find a story of self-deception and mistaken identity – and a ray of hope in a couple whose projected distaste for each other masks genuine affection.
Presented by Associate Professor David McInnis, Associate Professor in English and Theatre Studies.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 28 June
July: Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, 1966
Part biting satire on life in the land of the Soviets, part meditation on the meaning of life, part religious philosophy and part fantasy story, this novel is hard to classify but a masterpiece of literature.
Presented by Professor Mark Edele, The Hansen Chair in History and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 26 July
August: Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, 1958
This autobiography is a source of fascination for readers eager to understand one of the greatest writers of her generation – and offers us a detailed portrait of society and class, work and play, music, literature and philosophy in Paris in the early 20th century.
Presented by Professor Jacqueline Dutton, Professor of French Studies.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 30 August
September: Euripides, The Trojan Women, 415 BCE
The fall of Troy was a well-known myth among the ancient Greeks, but here the story is told through the perspective of the women victimised by Greek heroes. Does this make this drama an exhortation against war, or a warning about the consequences of failure?
Presented by Associate Professor James "K.O." Chong-Gossard, Associate Professor of Classics.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 27 September
October: Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982
As this powerful feminist story unfolds, the lives and experiences of Black women living in the American South are depicted through intimately written letters. Each page reveals the power of female relationships – and the complicated dynamics of race, sexuality, and violence.
Presented by Dr Kalissa Alexeyeff, Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 25 October
November: George Johnston, My Brother Jack, 1964
A pointed attack on middle-class suburbia, an exploration of Australian masculinity and femininity, a radical take on the ANZAC legend – this haunting novel is an Australian classic that raises important questions about how we define success and failure.
Presented by Professor Sally Young, Professor of Political Science.
Live Zoom Q&A: 6.30pm-7.15pm Tuesday 29 November
Cost: $110 General admission / $85 University of Melbourne alumni, staff, and students
For accessibility information and ticketing terms and conditions, please visit our Frequently asked questions web page.
Acquiring the books
The Faculty of Arts is pleased to work with our friends at Readings to offer a dedicated 10 Great Books webpage where you can easily purchase our set texts online.
You may also be interested in purchasing the texts as e-books or audio books from your preferred provider.
Your local library is another great affordable option. And of course you can always beg, borrow or steal from your family and friends’ bookshelves – just make sure you return it when you’re done!
Check out our FAQ page for more information on all our Community Education courses.
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Please note the University of Melbourne will be closed from 24 December 2021 - 3 January 2022, inclusive.