Two Modern Classics: Madame Bovary (1856) and The Portrait of a Lady (1880)

Peter Medine
Wednesdays 1 PM - 3 PM (AZ Time)
November 2, 9, 16, 30, and December 7, 2022
Watch the video to learn more about this course

Two Modern Classics: Madame Bovary (1856) and The Portrait of a Lady (1880)

Fall 2022
In Session
1 PM - 3 PM (AZ Time)
November 2, 9, 16, 30, and December 7, 2022


Main Campus



Attend In Person OR Online

Madame Bovary and The Portrait of a Lady invite discussion and comparison. Each centers on a remarkable heroine who dares to seek independence even at the risk of violating social norms. The plots conform to the pattern of the standard education novel. But both heroines fall short of the “education” and triumph usually achieved in such novels. Emma Bovary dies at the conclusion. Isabel Archer may end up alive and with her hard-won wisdom and moral sense intact, but she ultimately returns to an impossible marriage which makes for the novel’s famously indeterminate conclusion. By probing into the novels’ similarities and differences, we will gain a deepened understanding of the books’ significance as modern classics and a renewed sense of their power to intrigue and move us today as much as they did readers in the nineteenth century.

Hybrid Course Format

  • All classes will be delivered in-person and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • In-person classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited by classroom capacity and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. All students attending on-campus will observe the relevant University of Arizona policies designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 (more information here). Students who enroll to participate in person will also have complete online access to the course, including all class recordings.   
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. Students may also access class recordings for a limited time to assist those who may not be able to attend the live class times. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.

Registration Will Open Online:
Monday, August 29, 2022, at 8 AM (AZ Time)

Required Reading: 

  • Gustave Flaubert. Madame Bovary. Ed. Margaret Cohen, Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed. (W. W. Norton & Company, 2004); [ISBN 0-393-97917-2 (Pbk.)].
  • Henry James. The Portrait of a Lady. Ed. Phillip Horne, Penguin Classics, (Penguin Random House, 2011);[ISBN 978-0-141-44126-9 (Pbk)].

Course Registration

Meet Your Professor

Professor Emeritus
Department of English

PETER E. MEDINE is Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he served in the English Department from 1969 to 2014. He has written, edited, or coedited seven books in Early Modern English studies. His most recent coedited book is Visionary Milton: Essays in Prophecy and Violence (2010). He is the recipient of several Humanities Seminars Superior Teaching Awards and the College of Humanities Award for Outreach Service.  

  • Ted and Shirley Taubeneck Superior Teaching Award


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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