Academic Programs 

Discerning Spirit Through Novels    (WS-570-2)    ONE CREDIT      
Winter/Spring 2003

How do characters and themes of contemporary novels invite us to think about spirituality and the spiritual journey?  Topics such as faith, hope, grace, and God written in novel form will be explored in relationship to our own journeys and understandings.  


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on February 10, March 10, March 31 and April 28

Location: Room 206

Donna Manocchio
Adjunct Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Contact Information:
(860) 535-5696

Course Syllabus
Class web site


Kidd, Sue Monk.  The Secret Life of Bees.  New York: Viking Press, 2002.
Picoult, Jodi.  Keeping Faith.  New York:  Perennial/Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.
Quindlen, Anna.  Blessings.  New York:  Random House, 2002.
Sebold, Alice.  Lovely Bones.  Boston:  Little, Brown, and Company, 2002. 



February 10            Introductions and Overview

Keeping Faith

Explorations:  faith, the meaning of miracles, visions of God

March 10
            The Secret Life of Bees

Explorations: mothers and madonnas


March 31         Blessings

Explorations:  families, blessings


April 28            Lovely Bones

Explorations: heaven, resurrection, grief


“Each of us, when we read a book, looks over someone’s shoulder, trying to figure out the other, hoping to see what another sees, grubbing for a clue as to what is going on in the world. . .”  -William Willimon,  Reading with Deeper Eyes



The majority of our time together will be discussing the novels, so please read each novel BEFORE class so that you can participate in the conversation and sharing of wisdom.  This means that the novel, Keeping Faith, needs to be read prior to the first class on February 10, 2002.

There are two assignments for those taking the course for credit:

(1)   For each novel, write a 1-2 page paper exploring a spiritual theme in the book that is of significance to you.  How does the author invite you to engage with the theme?  What new questions, insights, or challenges are yours as a result of reading the novel?

(2)   A final integrative paper (4 – 5 pages) or creative expression.  What threads of connection have you discerned through reading and conversation for your own journey?


All assignments are due by May 20, 2003.



The grading for the course will be determined as follows:

30% class participation
30% reflection papers (combined)
40% final paper or project



Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500