"Dead Man Walking": The Book, the Film, the Opera | Newberry

"Dead Man Walking": The Book, the Film, the Opera

Led by Susanne Dumbleton and Fred A. Wellisch. Seven sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Saturdays, October 5 - November 16

1 - 3 pm

This seminar has been canceled.

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (August 27 at 9 am** – September 13 at 4 pm): $250
Regular Registration Price (September 13 at 4 pm – first day of class): $275

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

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

** This seminar has been canceled. **

Seminar Description

In Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean memorably describes her challenging role as spiritual advisor to two death row inmates and witness to their executions. Her memoir was turned into an award-winning film (aided by a powerful soundtrack) starring Susan Sarandon. Composer Jake Heggie then shaped the story into a poignant opera, which Lyric Opera Chicago will perform this fall. In this team-taught seminar, we will read the book, view the film, attend the opera, and consider how the narrative emerges distinctively across the three art forms. Participants will have the option to purchase opera tickets at an additional cost.

Seven sessions. E - $250, L - $275

Susanne Dumbleton is a professor emeritus and former dean at DePaul University. She has been studying the work of Sister Helen Prejean as part of a book project on women as human rights leaders.

Fred A. Wellisch is an attorney, teacher, and active participant in Chicago-area theater. He has argued a death penalty case before the Illinois Supreme Court and appeared as Frosch in the Lyric Opera’s production of “Die Fledermaus.”

Materials List


  • Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking. Random House, 1994. ISBN: 978-0679403586
  • Jake Heggie, Dead Man Walking. Erato/Warner Classics, 2002. ISBN: 8573-86238 ASIN B000059ZHR

First Reading:

  • For the first class please read Chapters 1-4 (pp.1-95) of Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking.

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