Only Connect: E.M. Forster and His Legacy

In his 1943 book on E.M. Forster, literary critic Lionel Trilling wrote that “E.M. Forster is for me the only living novelist who can be read again and again and who, after each reading, gives me what few writers can give us after our first days of novel-reading, the sensation of having learned something.” Few novelists are more aware of how fully we misunderstand one another, because few work as hard to imagine a world in which we don’t. Brave enough to hope and honest enough to fail, Forster’s novels speak to our age as well as Forster’s own – challenging us to be better, while accepting us as we are. In this course, we’ll take a close look at what Trilling considered Forster’s masterpiece: his 1910 novel, Howards End, in which Forster imagined how we might reconcile seemingly insuperable differences and learn to both speak and live in harmony with one another. Timely in a bitterly divided pre-World War I Britain, Forster’s message and novel are equally relevant in an equally divided 21st-century United States. After reviewing Forster’s background and career and taking a deep dive into the characters and themes animating Howards End itself, we will conclude by profiling the contemporary novelist who most consistently champions Forster and embodies his values, particularly in her 2005 novel On Beauty (an express homage to Howards End): Zadie Smith.


Michael Fischer

Mike Fischer is a Milwaukee-based dramaturg and a member of the Advisory Company of artists for Forward Theater in Madison. For 15 years, he saw more than 200 plays and reviewed more than 40 books each year on behalf of ... read more

Date: 4 Tue, Apr 4-25

Delivery Method: In-person With Livestream

Time: 12:30-1:45pm CT

Location: UWM Hefter Conference Center or view on Zoom

Instructor: Michael Fischer

Fee: $25

Program Number: SPRI:142

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