Why do we read books? Poetry? Plays? Short stories? In a world where, as author Husain Haddawy wrote, “technology is hostile to romance” and the humanities often take a backseat to STEM education, why is it important to teach English in the 21st century?
The material here is part of a mini-unit I would like to use at the beginning of my courses to frame our time in the classroom together and introduce some of the guiding questions of our class. The mini unit will culminate in a similar exercise to Josh Alford's "All you can ask buffet," where students will have the chance to sample some of these guiding questions and also generate some of their own.
Can Reading Make You Happier?
Author Ceridwen Dovey describes her experience with a bibliotherapist and the role that fiction plays in developing self-awareness, coping with loss, and healing the imagination.
Bread Loaf School of English Opening Greetings 2016
Dr. Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury College, laments the "colossal failure of imagination in public life," offering stories and literature as an antidote for change.
The Danger of a Single Story
"Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding" (TED.com).
What "Orwellian" Really Means
Noah Tavlin offers learners a deeper look at the word "Orwellian," exploring the power that language and interpretation have beyond the pages of our books, and the role that novels can play in understanding our world.
The Politics of Fiction
"Listening to stories widens the imagination; telling them lets us leap over cultural walls, embrace different experiences, feel what others feel. Elif Shafak builds on this simple idea to argue that fiction can overcome identity politics" (TED.com).
Narrate Or Die
"Narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood... storytelling is intrinsic to biological time, which we cannot escape." - A.S. Byatt