Fresh Off the Press!

Reflections on Literature:  Exploring Meanings and Messages; Volume I:  The Modern Novel from the Roaring Twenties to the Mythic West

Volume I discusses the literature of the Roaring Twenties and the cultural and historical context for this literature, and it also features essays on Hemingway, Steinbeck, and George Orwell as well as an essay about literature of the American West and its mythic dimensions. Reflections on Literature is a series of essays about literature intended for the general reader.

"Reading Dr. Van Dellen’s book is the equivalent of taking a masters class in literature. Not only is his descriptions well written in terms easily understood for expressing the wonder that lies within the written pages of books by honored writers, but his views on the importance of these works for how they relate to current affairs and past history gives the reader a perspective that opens a whole new appreciation for the authors. It makes you want to reread their books once again, this time with a greater understanding. I want to thank Dr. Van Dellen for sharing with me what it took him a lifetime of study to accumulate. And I look forward to his next book with great anticipation."
Richard J. Hoekstra


Bob Van Dellen

Bob Van Dellen earned his Ph.D. in English Literature from Indiana University and began his career as a professor at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.

Bob taught graduate and undergraduate courses, was president of a consulting company, and served as the founding executive director of a Community Foundation. He returned to academia and concluded his career as president of a college in Michigan.  He authored over ten feature-length scripts for videos, which included four with Curt Gowdy of American Sportsman fame and one with the famous Roy Rogers.  He published several essays and conducted numerous seminars and workshops.

His four grown children, their spouses, and their nine grandchildren are of central importance to him and his wife.  Bob has enjoyed many backpacking and wilderness canoe camping trips, as well as several journeys to Europe and elsewhere.  His life-long passion for literature is exhibited by the Lectures on Literature Series for the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida, where Bob and his wife winter.

Since 2016, he has presented over twenty-five Talks on Literature.  These are now being converted into a multi-series collection of essays, titled Reflections on Literature: Exploring Meanings and Messages.  Volume I, The Modern Novel from the Roaring Twenties to the Mythic West released in July, 2023. 

Schedule a Presentation:

Come Explore:

-Featured Talks-

The Mythic American West and It's Writers

What is the magic, mystery, and magnetism of the West? Why does it produce so many great novels, movies, and tv shows? Ride the trails and the rails, and travel into the many canyons of our West from Native struggles to cattle drives, from majestic mountains to wild rivers; and above all, meet many of our best western writers—Zane Grey, Larry McMurtry, Tony Hillerman, and others.


You’ll meet these award-winning writers: Annie Dillard, Rick Bass, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, and Bill McKibben. All environmental advocates, they invite you to explore Tinker Creek in the mountains of Virginia, the Yaak Valley in Montana, the Great Salt Lake area, a diversity of places in California, Oregon, and elsewhere, and the changing political and social landscape of American life. Each one addresses the most important  existential challenge we currently face: Global Warming. Each one offers light for a brighter future.

Zoom with us.

Additional Topics

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One of our truly best contemporary American writers, explore the agony of Pat Conroy’s world and experience the art of reaching a state of grace.  The power of his voice is still very much alive as we grapple with equality, justice, and human understanding.

 Orwell’s warnings about government control and abuses are as important to today as they were seventy-five years ago, for he understands how power corrupts and how ordinary people can be exploited.  These two classic novels remain very pertinent.

The journey of Inspector Gamache still invites us to solve murders and enjoy the unique and inviting characters that people the novels of Louise Penny, one of our very best murder-mystery writers.

Hemingway's Key West & Cuba: Old Man and the Sea

John Steinbeck: Literary Giant, the Life & Works

Major Themes in Classic American Novels

Two of our very best contemporary poets, with very different backgrounds and voices, touch on common themes and take us down meaningful roads to travel.  Come hear the magic of these voices.

One of the greatest artists and poets that ever lived and gifted us with his genius, come travel down his complicated, engaging, creative, and intriguing pathways into his world that still resonates for us today.

Walt Whitman & Robert Frost: Two Great American Poetic Voices

Poetic Gems: Wordsworth, Frost, Whitman, Shakespeare, Whitman and Others

This talk explores the value of literature in terms of lessons about lost innocence, love, aging, wisdom, family, friendship, and death.

Eugene O'Neill's Powerful Voice

Tennessee Williams: His Life, His Plays

Shakespeare's Tragic & Comic Visions

Poetry in Music: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins & Jackson Browne

Participants Say


“Bob’s lectures are invariably insightful, inspiring and culturally relevant. The breadth of his knowledge and observations are impressive and thought provoking. Bob expertly frames each discussion in a historical and artistic context to provide a comprehensive view on a variety of fascinating and diverse topics ranging from the works of John Steinbeck to a Canadian murder mystery writer to Bob Dylan’s music.”

The Ballantines Attendee

“Bob, your talks are great. I love the diversity of themes, and I’m confident they will resonate with our community. We are honored and delighted to have you give these lectures each year. Thank you so very much.”

Deb Banta Elliott Museum - Event Coordinator

“Bob’s lectures at the Elliott Museum are a highlight of the winter months in Stuart, Florida. His choice of topics reflect a breadth of knowledge and interests, which includes novels, poetry, history, music, and art. He has added to our understanding of favorite authors, introduced us to new ones, acquainted us with poets and increased our appreciation of those we already loved. His love of the subjects he chooses always comes through. He makes us think about subjects we believe we already knew and makes us appreciate subjects in which we didn’t believe we had any interest.”

The Amerlings Attendee

Notice of Intent

These presentations are intended for the edification of a general audience—people who love to read and benefit from it.  They are consciously not in accordance with traditional academic protocol, complete with footnotes, bibliographies, and sources cited.  These talks beg, borrow, steal, and adapt from a wide variety of sources—old graduate school class notes, published books and essays about literature, commentary, the internet, including Wikipedia.  In some cases, sources are identified, but for the most part, the use of such sources is not referenced.  If you use any parts of these talks for academic purposes, use at your own risk.<