BiblioFiles #55: On Making Booklists

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What is the secret to making a good booklist – for yourself or for your students? What belongs on the best booklists? In this episode the BiblioFiles crew chats about their own various experiences with making booklists and discusses how different personalities react to them. We talk about the difficulties a teacher encounters when crafting a booklist for their students and throw around some approaches that have worked for us.

Referenced Works

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Moby Dick and Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Paradise Lost by John Milton

– Augustine’s Confessions

The Gift of Fire by Richard Mitchell

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

– How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #54: Hard Times and Soap Boxes (What Are We Reading?)

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Have you ever had that experience where you read a book by an author you absolutely love…and find that you don’t really love it? It’s Adam’s turn in the hot seat for this What Are We Reading? episode of BiblioFiles, and he’s talking to us about Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. As one of Dickens’ most enthusiastic advocates, we were surprised to learn that he didn’t much enjoy this novel. We grill him for the reasons why, discuss the proper places of questions vs. answers in literature, and talk about the different aspects of Dickens’ writing.

Referenced Works:

– Hard Times

– Little Dorrit

– Great Expectations

– A Tale of Two Cities

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #53: An Apology for Poetry

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What is poetry’s relationship to the literary arts? How is poetry different from prose or other works of literature? Why should we read it in addition to other works? In this episode the BiblioFiles crew attempts an apology for poetry while rambling on about all of their favorite poets and poems along the way.

Referenced Works:

Poetics by Aristotle

– “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

An Invitation to Poetry by Jay Parini

– “Poetry” by Marianne Moore

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

– “The Kings’ Breakfast,” “Disobedience,” and “Happiness” by A.A. Milne

– “Digging” and Beowulf by Seamus Heaney 

– The work of Siegfried Sassoon

– John Donne’s Holy Sonnets

– The work of Gerard Manley Hopkins

– “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S Eliot

– “The Gray Man” in Usher by B. H. Fairchild

– Shakespeare’s Sonnets

– The work of Christian Wiman

– The work of Robert Frost

David Middleton

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #52: Faith and Reason

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Is reason a reliable path to knowledge of God? Is faith a reliable path to knowledge of the world? The tension between faith and reason as a means to truth crops up all over the Western canon. In this episode, the CenterForLit crew tracks that conversation in the Great Books and attempts to battle it out for themselves.

Referenced Works:

Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Till We Have Faces, The Great Divorce and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

– Moby Dick by Herman Melville

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

Lit, Period #6: Naturalism

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Lit, Period is back! And this time the team is diving deeper into a sub-category within American Realism: Naturalism. We discuss famous Naturalist hits like Red Badge of Courage and Jack London, and also spend time throwing around ideas about why anyone would want to read or study these often more depressing works in the first place.

To grab a copy of our Lit, Period notes for this episode visit: www.centerforlit.com/litperiod6

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

 

BiblioFiles #51: Reading Types, Frederick Buechner, and Memoir (What Are We Reading?)

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It's finally Missy's turn in the hot seat for this What Are We Reading? episode of BiblioFiles. The only thing that can mean is that we are discussing ALL THE BOOKS. We tackle the differences between different kinds of readers, what makes a good memoir, and the plentitude of titles in Missy's current reading stack. 

 

Referenced Works:

– The Epistle to the Romans by Karl Barth

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

What Came from the Stars by Gary Schmidt

The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon

On Stories, and Other Essays on Literature by C.S. Lewis

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Carol and Philip Zaleski

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

The Sacred Journey by Frederick Buechner

– Wild by Cheryl Strayd

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #50: The Role of Personal Experience in Reading

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In response to an insightful comment from a BiblioFiles listener, the crew sits down to tackle the other side of the authorial intent question: How do the reader's personal experiences affect the reading project? Isn't it true that no two people will have the same exact response to a work of art? How does this influence our understanding of literature's meaning? Join us as we continue this challenging conversation in a new episode of the BiblioFiles podcast!

Referenced Works:

BiblioFiles #48: Authorial Intention and Meaning in Literature

– Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

– Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

– "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #49: Mimesis and the Art of Teaching Literature

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In this week's episode of BiblioFiles, the CenterForLit gang focuses their conversation on a term that comes up quite a bit in literary criticism: mimesis. What is mimesis? Should it influence the way we read? Is it possible or desirable to teach literature mimetically? 

 

Referenced Works:

The Defense of Poesy by Sir Philip Sidney

Mimesis by Erich Auerbach

– "Advice to Youth" and Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses by Mark Twain

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Radio Read Along Podcast)

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin

–  The Illiad of Homer

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #48: Authorial Intention and Meaning in Literature

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Where is the meaning of a story found? Did the author put it there? Does it live in the pages of the book once it leaves the author's hands? Does the reader participate in creating its meaning in any way? In this episode of BiblioFiles the CenterForLit crew sits down to try to talk through this complex issue with humble consideration, while making sure we stay on Anything But Deconstruction Road. 

Referenced Works:

– Grammatology by Jacques Derrida

– The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #47: Thunder Cake, Picture Books, and Identity

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After we all make fun of Adam for choosing a cop-out selection for his WAWR title, he gently puts us in our places by demonstrating the beauty and depth that a simple children's book offers. We talk about the true value and audience of a good picture book, and then meditate on the very grown up ideas that are found in Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake.

Referenced Works:

– Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

– 'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

– Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #46: Leadership in Literature

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Training efficient, influential, or virtuous leaders seems to be a major concern in our world today, but what actually makes a good leader? Is it a list of qualities? Or is it something else? Today the BiblioFiles crew turns to the Great Books to see what the tradition's authors have to say about this issue. And we look at a whole slew of literary leaders, from Achilles to Peter Pan.

 

Referenced Works:

Beowulf

Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Illiad and The Odyssey of Homer

The Aeneid of Virgil

King Lear, Hamlet, Richard II, Henry V, I Henry IV, and Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

Lit, Period #5: American Realism

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We're back with another round of Lit, Period! This time things are getting real. In fact, we're tackling American Realism, that 19th century movement which reacted (pretty strongly) to the nemesis it loved to hate: Romanticism. Now Mark Twain is up to bat...and anything could happen. 

To access the Lit, Period notes we prepared specially for you, visit:

www.centerforlit.com/litperiod5 

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #45: What is an Education?

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What is an education and do we need one? What is morally required of a teacher or a student? The answers may seem obvious, but as educators it is often helpful to pause and reflect on our definitions so that we can realign ourselves toward our end goal. In this episode the CenterForLit crew sits down to do just that, sometimes getting feisty and throwing around controversial ideas to chew on. (But you're probably used to that by now.)

Referenced Works:

Classical Learning Test

The Republic by Plato

The Idea of a University by John Henry Cardinal Newman

The Nichomachen Ethics by Aristotle

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #44: Literary Reading and Levels of Understanding

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Is there more to reading than simply comprehending words, sentences, and plot? If so, how do we learn more abstract reading? Is it something we know how to do naturally or is it taught? Does it ruin the joy of reading? In this episode of BiblioFiles the CenterForLit crew sits down to continue the discussion on this hot button issue.

Referenced Works:

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Sign up for our Online Academy by June 1st to receive the Early Bird discount! Learn more here: https://www.centerforlit.com/prospective-students/

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #43: Dystopian Fiction, Fast Reads, and the Red Rising Trilogy (What Are We Reading?)

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Megan is in the hot seat for this What Are We Reading? edition of BiblioFiles. But unfortunately for her, everyone else is also reading her selection and had very strong opinions about it. (Is that surprising?) In this episode we explore Pierce Brown's recent dystopian Red Rising trilogy and loudly express our various reactions to the story.

NOTE: Red Rising is aimed at adults, and even so has some triggers that sensitive readers may wish to avoid. 

Referenced Works:


–Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star and Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

BiblioFiles #40: Politics and Literature

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #42: Are the Great Books Still Relevant Today?

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You've probably heard it before: the accusation that the Great Books are nothing but the artifacts of "dead, white men." We certainly get odd looks when we tell people out in the world that we've dedicated our lives to reading them. Why are the Great Books so valuable? What do they have to offer a modernized society, so different from the societies in which they were written? In this episode the BiblioFiles team sets out to defend our very jobs....but also to talk about that artistic alternative to SparkNotes: Thug Notes.

 

Referenced Works:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Great Conversation by Robert Hutchins

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

– Thug Notes written by Jared Bauer and Joseph Salvaggio (not recommended for young viewers...)

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.

BiblioFiles #41: The Late, Great "Literary Analysis" Debate with David Kern

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What is "literary analysis" and why is it causing such a big fuss these days? Does it kill the joy of reading? What is its purpose, and when should you start teaching it? Our good friend David Kern from the CiRCE Institute came to the BiblioFiles table to help us wrestle through these issues.

Referenced Works:

–www.circeinstitute.org

–The collected works of Jacques Derrida

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

"Does Analysis Destroy the Love of Reading?" by Adam Andrews

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Close Reads Podcast

Howards End by E.M. Forster

The Lost Tools of Writing

Teaching the Classics

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Lit, Period #4: Transcendentalism

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In this installment of Lit, Period the CenterForLit team takes a closer look at that particularly American strain of Romanticism: Transcendentalism. Revisiting some of the old friends we introduced in our last episode, we look deeper into what set this romantic philosophy apart from its European cousin and discuss how the movement influences the country even to this day. To follow along with us, download our free printable guide at the link below:

www.centerforlit.com/litperiod4

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation. 

BiblioFiles #40: Politics and Literature

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Things get spicy as the CenterForLit crew takes on a sensitive subject: the role of politics in literature. Politics is an important part of the human experience, and so it is no surprise that it often raises its head in our best literature. But what does that mean for the way we teach political themes in literature to our students - even if we agree with the author? Why is some written political literature more artful that others? Fasten your seatbelts, because we're taking these issues to the BiblioFiles table!

 

Referenced Works:

 To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

– Plato's Republic

– A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

– Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

– War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Great Books of the Western World by Encyclopedia Britannica, edited by Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler

 A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

– The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation. 

 

BiblioFiles #39: Current Fantasy Offerings and the Nature of the Genre (What Are We Reading?)

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For this episode of What Are We Reading? we've got Ian in the hot seat talking to us about his ongoing project to catch up on contemporary offerings in one of his favorite genres. He compares two books he just finished and puts them in context with the rest of the fantasy tradition going back to Tolkien, Lewis, and MacDonald.  

Do you have suggestions for Ian's fantasy reading list? Leave them in the comments below!

 

Referenced Works:

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

The Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

 

We love hearing your questions and comments! You can contact us by emailing adam@centerforlit.com, or you can visit our website www.centerforlit.com to find even more ways to participate in the conversation.