Notre Dame College Features Books as Bridges in 2017-2018 Discussion Series

Notre Dame College’s faculty-led discussion of Books that Change the World builds bridges to global understanding with contemporary reading selections by international authors who address social, political and religious barriers through stories set in the Middle East, Asia, South America and U.S.

The College’s 10th annual literature seminar series for 2017-2018 focuses on Books as Bridges with eight selections of fiction published from 1980 to 2016. This lifelong learning opportunity engages the extended community in discussions about fine literature. Peers meet once each month in two-hour sessions on either Tuesday evenings or Thursday mornings from September through April. The series also features a January joint session to discuss the print and film versions of one selection. 

The sessions once again are led by Sr. Eileen Quinlan, SND, Ph.D., professor of English/communication and a published author, and Kenneth Palko, M.A., associate professor of philosophy. This year, the seminar opens during Notre Dame's Founders Week, the College's annual celebration of the Sisters of Notre Dame. 

The books to be discussed in 2017-2018 build bridges to the world with selected works that contribute to human connection, often across fault lines of conflict. The reading list features global writers honored for their use of language to illuminate humanity’s search for what is deeper and truer than fear.

The Selections

A highlight of the reading list this academic year is Judas (2016) by Israeli author Amos Oz, who through a contemporary tale of a scholar and his encounters, portrays Jewish attitudes of Jesus and differing views of Judas—as idealist rather than traitor—and touches on theological and political aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict and origins of Christianity. The book originally was written in Hebrew.

In addition to the book Judas, set in the Middle East, selections this season span the globe from Turkey to China to the UK and US. A tome on the societal conflicts in a 1990s Turkey town that was once a border between Ottoman and Russian empires, Snow (2002) is written by Orhan Pamuk, one of the first authors in a Muslim country to publicly denounce the Islamic condemnation of Salman Rushdie. Pamuk also faced charges himself for commenting on Kurdish and Armenian genocide in his homeland. A tale of three generations of women in 20th century China—one concubine, one Communist, one elite and then exiled—is told in Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (2003) by Jung Chang, a book banned in mainland China. The account On Beauty (2006) by Zadie Smith tells of a contemporary mixed-race British-American family living in the United States and addresses liberal and conservative academic values as well as ethnic and cultural differences in the two countries.

Other Books as Bridges include Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) written by the South African-born Nobel laureate J. M. Coetze during apartheid and Unlikely Brothers (2012) co-authored by John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks. Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity in Africa. He also is mentor to Mattocks, who grew up homeless and later became a drug and gun kingpin in Washington D.C.—while Prendergast worked with Congress and the White House.

The series also features works of magical realism like in two selections originally written in Spanish. Author Isabel Allende based her novel The House of Spirits (1982) on her letters to a terminally ill grandfather after she was forced to flee Chile to Venezuela after the assassination of her uncle, Chilean President Salvador Allende. Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), about fictional relationships in a realistic conventional provincial city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is the first novel written by Gabriel García Márquez after he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 and source for the 2007 movie of the same name starring Javier Bardem.

The Series

Seminars anchored in the "great books tradition" draw community members into thought-provoking analyses of contemporary issues through the medium of timeless literature and are among the most eagerly sought-after personal enrichment and professional development experiences.

The fee for the series is $395, which includes the costs of sessions, books, materials, continental breakfast at morning sessions and light hors d'oeuvres and dessert at evening sessions. Additional details are available online.

For more information, or to register, contact Tina Jurcisin at 216.373.6520or

The Schedule

Discussion groups meet from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesdays or 7-9 a.m. Thursdays from September through April, with a joint meeting on a Tuesday in January. Specific discussion dates and the order of selections are:

  • September 19 or 21 – The House of the Spirits (1982) Isabel Allende
  • October 17 or 19 – Snow (2002) Orhan Pamuk
  • November 7 or 9 – Unlikely Brothers (2012) Michael Mattocks and John Prendergast
  • December 12 or 14 – On Beauty (2006) Zadie Smith
  • January 23 – Love in the Time of Cholera  (1985) Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • February 13 or 15 – Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China  (2003) Jung Chang
  • March 13 or 15 – Judas (2016) Amos Oz
  • April 10 or 12 – Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) J.M. Coetzee.

August 2017

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or


July 27
7:30 PM
Friday July 27, 7:30pm
Regina Auditorium
E.g., 07/23/18
E.g., 07/23/18