Under the Sign of Saturn: The Enigmatic Work of W.G. Sebald | Newberry

Under the Sign of Saturn: The Enigmatic Work of W.G. Sebald

Led by Natania Rosenfeld
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Seven sessions. Wednesdays, March 2-April 13



Newberry Adult Education Seminars will meet both virtually and in the building for the Winter/Spring term. Although we are still primarily virtual, you will find a smaller selection of in-person seminars in the schedule. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. If you have questions about online learning, please reach out to adulteducation@newberry.org. Registration opens Wednesday, January 19th at 9am (Central time). Registration will take place through our online platform, Learning Stream.

Register via Learning Stream here

Seminar Description

The German-born, English immigrant author W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) can be considered one of the most remarkable writers of the latter half of the twentieth century. We now have an adjective, “Sebaldian,” to designate a genre of narrative,a wandering essay-novel. These works include photographs, many of unknown provenance, and feature an unnamed narrator (more or less identical with the author, and tortured by questions of German guilt) traveling through geographical, psychological and historical terrain with the aim of unearthing answers to old questions about human evil, industry, creativity, and decency. In this course, through readings and discussion of his three magisterial novels The Emigrants, Austerlitz, and Rings of Saturn, we will examine how the “Sebaldian” works as a literary-moral mode for understanding ourselves as a species at this moment in the late Anthropocene, and we’ll ponder Sebald’s trickiness as to truth and sources, revealed and discussed in the new biography by Carole Angier.

Seven sessions. Registration – $250/$225

Natania Rosenfeld is a writer, independent scholar and Professor Emerita of English at Knox College. She has published two books of poetry as well as a scholarly book, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and a chapbook of personal essays.

Materials List


  • W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn.(New Directions, 2016) ISBN:978-0811226158

  • W.G. Sebald, The Emigrants(New Directions, 2016). ISBN: 978-0811226141

  • W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz (Modern Library; Anniversary edition,2011). ISBN: 978-0812982619

  • W.G. Sebald, After Nature, (Modern Library; Reprint edition, 2003). ISBN: 978-0375756580

First Reading

  • Please read Parts I and II of The Emigrants

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration Information

Registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, January 19th . Newberry Associates members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning January 12th at 10am. Learn more about membership benefits and becoming a Newberry Associate.

Please note: The Newberry uses Learning Stream for all Adult Education Seminar registrations. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at adulteducation@newberry.org.

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.