Reading for Culture with Emma: Monthly Reading Group @East and West Learning Connections

Culture is the beliefs and practices of a people, and literature is one of the richest repositories of these beliefs. In this reading group we will read canonical texts that greatly influenced English literature, and as we read, we will encounter dominant cultural values that still hold sway today.  The importance of free will, the individual in society, the role of gods and fate, the nature of virtue, and the conventions of love and gender are just some of the ideas we will explore. We will read works ranging from Ovid in the 1st century BCE to Chaucer in the 14th century CE–literature that greatly influenced English writers, and literature that was considered the earliest kind of English literature. Before 1500, works that influenced English literature were written in Latin, Italian, or French; moreover, early “English” literature is written in a version of English that native speakers now no longer understand! Therefore, the readings are all in modern English translations. Web links, PDFs, and library links will be provided to enable members to gain affordable and easy access to these texts.

Every month we will read the equivalent of a modern English novel in terms of pages (about 250 modern English book pages). Zoom meetings will take the form of a university lecture seminar, and will include a lecture portion and a small-group discussion allowing participants to discuss and ask questions about the ideas we are encountering.



Emma Gorst obtained her PhD in Medieval and early modern English literature from University of Toronto. Before that, she copy-edited textbooks for Pearson and worked in online marketing at Random House. She did her postdoc at Yale University in 2013-2014. Emma is teaching university and college writing at Seneca, and tutoring young readers in her spare time.

For more details about Emma, please visit


Everyone is welcome to join the book club. Let’s learn about the roots of Western civilizations, and discuss about how the roots grow and relate to our lives today!


Time: Every 2nd Wednesday evening at 7:30-9:00 P,M. Eastern Time

Venue: online Zoom meetings

Language: English

Cost: Free


Please click below link to register for the session on December 8, 2021:

For the reading materials, and podcasts of previous sessions, please visit:


For inquiries, please contact us at  Thank you!

We look forward to reading with you!

6 thoughts on “Reading for Culture with Emma: Monthly Reading Group @East and West Learning Connections”

  1. On March 10 at our first book club meeting, we discuss the book of Genesis and the first 200 lines of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Next month we will carry on discussing Ovid’s Metamorphoses but we will look at Book 10. We will also discuss the Bible book of John. After that we will read Dante, Virgil, Chaucer, Plato, and Aristotle, among others.

    Audio recording:
    Podbean link:

    And with many thanks to Emma, here is the podcast she did for us to include the part we did not get to cover at March 10’s meeting:

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