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Reading Groups

“Not for Us”: Kafka’s Stories with Mike Levine (Online Only) — Sold Out

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Every Other Week Tuesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT January 11 to February 22, 2022

Online via Zoom

This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Allison Escoto at

Meeting Dates:
1/11, 1/25, 2/8, 2/22

Is there a writer whose work has so insistently both invited and resisted interpretation as Franz Kafka? His life is equally confounding; scholars have scrutinized his diaries and letters for clues that would help us make sense of the world delineated in his fiction – a hauntingly accurate portrait of the one we inhabit and, at the same time, so alien as to seem at times comically inhospitable to human life. When asked by his friend Max Brod if there was hope for the world, he replied, “Much hope, for God – no end of hope – only not for us.” Everything he wrote reveals a man fundamentally homeless. Neither his family, his country, his religion, nor his lovers could temper his existential unease. His writing forces us to consider whether anything we think of as making us intelligible to ourselves or as binding us to others holds up under close examination.

We’ll read a selection of his greatest stories, including “The Metamorphosis,” “Before the Law,” and “The Judgment,” which have become cultural shorthand for unfathomable predicaments. Adding another dimension to themes he relentlessly pursued, we’ll also read “Letter to the Father,” a letter Kafka wrote about their tortured relationship that never made its way to its intended audience.

  • Session I: “Before the Law,” “The Judgment”
  • Session II: “The Metamorphosis,” “A Country Doctor”
  • Session III: “In the Penal Colony,” “A Report to an Academy,” “A Hunger Artist”
  • Session IV: “Letter to the Father”

Update: This reading group will now take place exclusively over Zoom.


Led by

  • mike levine

    Mike Levine

    Mike Levine

    Mike Levine is an independent editor. He was previously an acquisitions editor at Northwestern University Press. Among the authors he published were Jen Beagin (Whiting Award winner), A. E. Stallings (National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, finalist), and Stephen Karam (Pulitzer Prize in Drama, finalist). He has also been a senior editor at the Great Books Foundation. Since 2000, he has taught literature and film seminars in several continuing education programs. He has a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in English from Rice University.