WestportREADS: “The Longest Way Round is the Shortest Way Home”: Homecoming in "Bettyville"
Dr. Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs in Yale College, will give a talk on the theme of homecoming in Bettyville and other works of literature and myth. In his memoir, George Hodgman returns home not for a visit or a holiday, but for a new life, a life that is a blend of his past and his present, of his Midwestern roots and his adulthood in New York City, of his middle age and his mother’s end of life. Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” In Hodgman’s case, he did not have to go home in the sense that Frost meant, nor was he so much taken in as having to take in his mother (he describes himself in the book as a “care inflictor”). But even in his caregiving, he remains the son and gives Betty her due as the mother.
Dean Schenker will consider various examples of coming home after traveling, in James Joyce’s phrase, “the longest way round”—that is, having experiences that not only change what “home” is, but also who we are when we return there
Mark J. Schenker has been at Yale College since 1990. He is currently a senior associate dean of the College and dean of academic affairs. Born and raised in New York City, he received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University and has taught at Columbia, New York University, and Trinity College (Hartford). Dean Schenker has led book discussion series in public libraries and other venues in Connecticut for over 30 years and lectures frequently on literature and film for public audiences. He was the recipient of the 2001 Wilbur Cross Award for Outstanding Humanities Scholar, presented by the Connecticut Humanities Council.
WestportREADS is funded by the estate of Jerry A. Tishman.