Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Freedom interpreted

Center offers literature class around Jonathan Franzenís novel

Express Staff Writer

Ryan Waterfield is on the board of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and editor of Sun Valley Property News. Courtesy photo.

Literates across the globe are dissecting Jonathan Franzen's latest novel, "Freedom," calling it a masterpiece of American fiction.

"Once again Franzen has fashioned a capacious but intricately ordered narrative that in its majestic sweep seems to gather up every fresh datum of our shared millennial life," stated New York Times writer Sam Tanenhaus in the Sunday Book Review.

Such a heady slice of literature surely will find its way into university curriculum merely because its topic, that of the juxtaposition of freedom to power, is the stuff that makes scholars lather.

As this community has come to expect from the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, a class has been crafted to keep challenging Wood River Valley residents to defy a diet of recreation only and to incite a healthy helping of the intellectual.

"The Novel: A Discussion of Jonathan Franzen's 'Freedom' with Ryan Waterfield," will be presented as a one-night class, Monday, Sept. 26, in advance of Franzen's speaking engagement in Ketchum in October. This is the first endeavor of its kind hosted by The Center.

Participants are asked to read the book before the class and to complete a homework assignment, which is to fill a journal with quotes, song lyrics, newspaper articles, visual images and anything else that captures the many meanings of freedom.

Franzen's novel explores the idea of freedom as power in its most common and relatable situation, the dynamic of family and the microcosm it is for the world.

"This is basically a college literature class focused on one book and condensed into one evening," said Britt Udesen, The Center's director of education and humanities. "It's not a lecture; it's designed to incorporate participation. Think of this as the best book club meeting ever, where everyone's super-prepared and an expert guides the discussion."

Waterfield is a former Community School English teacher who serves on The Center's board and most recently took the helm as editor of Sun Valley Property News.

"Freedom is a moving target when you try to define it," she said. "In choosing to title his most recent novel with the weight of such a word, Franzen sets his sights quite high and the expectations of the readers follow."

To register and for full details on how to prepare for the class and to keep a reader's journal, visit

Unlike during a college lecture, wine will be served.

Jennifer Liebrum:

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.