Crime and Punishment in Chicago: Richard Wright's "Native Son" and Meyer Levin's "Compulsion" | Newberry

Crime and Punishment in Chicago: Richard Wright's "Native Son" and Meyer Levin's "Compulsion"

Led by Richard Reeder. Six sessions 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Wednesdays, September 25 - October 30

5:45 - 7:45 pm

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (August 27 at 9 am** – September 13 at 4 pm): $230
Regular Registration Price (September 13 at 4 pm – first day of class): $253

** Registration opens online at 9 am. Phone registration will be accepted starting at 10 am.

Members, seniors, and students get a 10% discount.

Register online

Seminar Description

In this seminar, we will read, discuss, and analyze two of the greatest novels of crime and punishment set in Chicago: Richard Wright’s Native Son and Meyer Levin’s Compulsion. Although they differ in their treatments of race and class, both novels combine trenchant social commentary and psychological incisiveness with riveting courtroom drama. Find out why these novels have been listed among the 101 publications that most shaped Chicago’s image in this six-session course.

Six sessions. E - $230, L - $253

Richard Reeder is the author of Chicago Sketches and 1001 Train Rides in Chicago. He moderates the Chicago-themed book group at the historic Cliff Dwellers Club. He also established and presently facilitates a long-running Chicago area literary series devoted to Jewish authors.

Materials List


  • Meyer Levin, Compulsion. Fig Tree Books, 2014. ISBN: 978-1941493021
  • Richard Wright, Native Son. Perennial Classics, 1998. ISBN: 0-06-0929804

First Reading:

  • For the first class, please read Foreword, Preface and Introduction and pages 3-144 of Compulsion.

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about our registration procedures.