Lit, Period #1: Metaphysical Poets

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We're rolling out a new BiblioFiles series today: Lit, Period. It's a quick and easy guide through the major literary movements of Western literature, from the 6th century to the 21st. Don't worry, the normal BiblioFiles format isn't going anywhere, but every once and a while we'll be throwing in a Lit, Period episode just to make things exciting. 

Today we're starting with a CenterForLit favorite: the metaphysical poets. And if you feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of information, don't fear! We've put together a free guide for you, which you can download on our website by following the link below:

www.centerforlit.com/litperiod1

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 Episode #32: Beauty and Mystery with Gregory Wolfe

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After a number of outlandish technological kerfuffles that could only happen to an Andrews, we were honored to finally be able to welcome Gregory Wolfe to the BiblioFiles table. Founder of Image Journal and a writer and thinker that has greatly influenced our own work, Mr. Wolfe was kind enough to join us in a conversation about one of his major concerns, the relationship of art and faith. He is revolutionizing the cultural conversation of our day and we were beyond lucky to receive an hour of his time. We know you are really going to enjoy what he has to say!

Referenced Works:

Image Journal (imagejournal.org)

Beauty Will Save the World by Gregory Wolfe

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

–"A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor

The Illiad of Homer

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Preface to Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth

An Experiment in Criticism 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 Episode #31: Darkness in Children's Literature and YA Fiction

Darkness in children's literature is a pretty hot topic these days, and it concerns us greatly as parents and educators who wish to shield our students from inappropriate influences and protect their childhood and innocence. The complication is, however, that darkness can encompass everything from the profane to the slightest conflict, and we think a story without a conflict is not a true story at all. Where is the balance? How much evil, fear, or violence is too much? We won't give any pat answers because we believe this is a decision each family must make on its own, but in this episode the CenterForLit team sits down to talk through the important issues that must influence our decisions concerning what books we give to our children. 

Referenced Works:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Watership Down by Richard Adams

–"The Dog of Pompeii" by Louis Untermeyer

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

–"On Fairy Stories" by J.R.R. Tolkien

–Gary Schmidt BiblioFiles Episode: https://www.centerforlit.com/podcasts/2016/11/18/bibliofiles-episode-19-an-interview-with-author-gary-d-schmidt

Many Waters by Madeleine D'Engle

 

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 Episode #30: Theodicy, or Justifying the Ways of God to Men

Who is God? What is He like if He exists? And if He is good and all-powerful, why does he allow evil in His creation? The great authors have been asking these questions, searching for purpose and order in the world, just as often as they have pondered the identity and nature of man. In the literary world, a work that takes up this search is called a "theodicy." Atheists as well as authors from all kinds of religious backgrounds have taken up this project, so in this episode we sit down and try to define the term as well as look through the various angles from which it has been approached.

Works Referenced: 

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Green

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Door in the Way by Marguerite de Angeli

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. 

BiblioFiles Episode #29: Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature

After a wild travel season where we had the joy of meeting so many of our wonderful listeners...BiblioFiles is back! This time Adam and Ian sit down for a more intimate conversation about one of Ian's great passions, Anglo-Saxon literature. A request from one of our listeners, we bring the origins of English storytelling to the BiblioFiles table. What heritage does our language pass down to us? What traditions spring from our English literary roots? Buckle your seatbelts, the Andrews are back in town!

Referenced Works:

–Beowulf

Seamus Heaney translation

J.R.R. Tolkien translation

Frederick Rebsamen translation

 

"The Dream of the Rood"

 

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 Episode #28: Understanding the Bible as Literature

This is a weighty topic. Not only is the Bible a major foundational text for the Western tradition, but for those who see it as the inspired Word of God, so much more is riding on understanding this text than on others. However, God chose to communicate to us through language, even telling us that his Son is the Logos or Word himself. Therefore there might be something to be gained by understanding the literary elements that the inspired authors used to communicate their message. We were asked to talk about this subject by a BiblioFiles listener, and we hope to begin a conversation that does it justice.

Referenced Works:

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis

The Literary Study Bible edited by Leland Ryken

The Book of Ruth, ESV translation

The David Story, The Five Books of Moses, The Book of Psalms, The Book of Genesis, and The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes ranslations with commentary by Robert Alter

 

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. 

Bonus Episode: What Is CenterForLit Up To?

We're changing things up a little bit this week! In February we gathered with some lit lovers all over the world to talk through what CenterForLit is up to and what our plans are for the future. We called it our "2017 Launch Party," and we definitely had a rollicking good time. In fact we had such a good time, that we thought it'd be fun to share the webinar recording with you! So if you're an avid listener of BiblioFiles, but you're not really sure who we are or what else our company does, this is a great episode to check out. And if you are already familiar with CenterForLit, tune in to hear our vision for how we hope to continue serving readers, teachers, and parents of all stripes in the next year.

Works Cited:

Teaching the Classics: Second Edition

BiblioFiles Podcast

Reading Roadmaps

Ready Readers

The Pelican Society Membership Program

Online Academy

The Lost Transcendental: Moral and Theme

Worldview Detective

Adam's appearance on the IEW podcast

 

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 Episode #27: Freedom and Contentment in the Social Media Age

In our last episode we considered human nature's relationship to freedom, and how sometimes bondage can be the condition that makes us most free. But what are we to do in a world where we are entirely free to be whatever we want to be, go wherever we want to go, and do whatever we want to do? So much freedom can be overwhelming, and because we are bombarded with images of other people "taking advantage" of their freedom, we are often left feeling discontent and guilty for what seems like our comparably unremarkable lives. Can the great literature of the past speak to our current social media condition? That's what we've come to the BiblioFiles table to find out this time around. 

Referenced Works:

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Dandelion by Don Freeman

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

–"Revelation" by Flannery O'Connor

Pride and Prejudice and Emma by Jane Austen

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness

Paper Towns 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 Episode #26: Is Freedom Possible?

There are some thinkers who see the history of humanity as one great progression toward true freedom. But is mankind meant for liberty? What role does bondage or restraint play in shaping the human experience? In today's episode we turn to the great authors to see what they had to say about this issue. Yes, yes Dostoevsky comes up again. How could he not when we're talking about bondage? But we tried really, really hard to expand our authorial reach this week...

Referenced Works:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Wall by Peter Sis

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I am David/ North to Freedom by Anne Holm

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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 Episode #25: 20th and 21st Century Literature with Brian Wasko of WriteAtHome

There are just so many wonderful people in our circles, but every once and a great while you run into someone who seems more like a lost family member than a chance acquaintance. That's how we feel about this week's guest, Brian Wasko, owner of the popular WriteAtHome program for homeschoolers. So when it was time to navigate the dicey waters of modern literature, we turned to our dear and knowledgable friend to help us sail the seas. 

Referenced Materials:

WriteAtHome.com

Ulysses by James Joyce

No Country for Old MenBlood Meredian, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

–Homer's Illiad

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

–The Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

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 Episode #24: What Makes a Classic?

It's getting to be a hot topic these days, and after receiving a particularly thoughtful question from one of the students in our Online Academy, we decided to bring the issue to the BiblioFiles table. Are the classics the only books worthy of study? If so, what makes a classic? Is it age, quality, or content? And how can we tell which books written today will become classics? Or should we only stick to the old books? Such are the concerns of this episode, alternatively titled "In Which the CenterForLit Clan Has Strong Opinions." We hope you enjoy the conversation and that you'll join in on the discussion!

Referenced Materials:

Teaching the Classics: Second Edition

2017 Launch Party: Free Webinar

The Great Books Set (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Divorce and 'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Home by Marilynne Robinson

The Memory of Old Jack and Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

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

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

"What makes them part of the great conversation is something so deep as to be elusive. It has to do with the impalpable medium of thought and sensibility in which our raw daily experience floats. The great conversationalists of the Western past are, as we have said, the architects of our mental habitat. That habitat is our real mother country and we are its citizens. As citizens we are all equal, but imaginative writers are more equal than the rest of us. They react to our common home in a special way, responding more intensely, interpreting it, extracting from it symbols, emblematic characters, images, webs of evocative language, epiphanies of human awareness. All these emerge from a view of life pervaded by the great ideas even though the dramatist, the novelist, the poet may never explicitly cite them. They form the bed on which these creators rest, dreaming the dream that will become Death in Venice or Waiting for Godot. This is the case even when a great idea is disowned or assailed. In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway describes a mood in which "abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene." Here he may be addressing, however indirectly, the author of The Iliad..." -Clifton Fadiman

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 Episode #23: An Interview with Author S.D. Smith

S.D. Smith is a very busy man these days, and we were honored that he took the time to come to the BiblioFiles table to discuss his work with us! Author of the Green Ember series, Sam talks to us about the desire that motivates him to write and the difficulty of crafting children's literature that tells the truth about the world in a nurturing way. 

He also generously offered to give away a complete set of his work, personally inscribed to one of our BiblioFiles listeners! Follow the link below for details:

S.D. Smith Giveaway: https://centerforlit.squarespace.com/bibliofiles-giveaway-sdsmith

Referenced Works:

Story Warren Website

S.D. Smith's Website

S.D. Smith Officie Facebook Page

– S.D. Smith Twitter Handle

The Chronicles of NarniaThe Abolition of Man, and Letters to Children 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 Episode #22: Understanding Poetry

We can hear you cringing. "Poetry? Really?" It's a dreaded subject for many of us. Why does it have to be so hard to understand? Does it really mean anything, anyway? And even if it does, is it worth the effort? We hope to make a case for why it is. And, by going line by line through one of our own favorite poems, we offer some tips for unlocking the secrets of poetry in your own reading. 

By the by, this is the final episode of our first season of BiblioFiles! Thank you to all who have stayed with us in 2016 as we've experimented and learned from our successes and failures. We've been so inspired by your interest in renewing and growing the Great Conversation. Your input has been a great help to us, and we're looking forward to an awesome 2017 season! If you haven't had a chance to offer your suggestions, we'd love to hear them via email at adam@centerforlit.com.

 

Referenced Works:

"Spring and Fall: to a young child" by Gerard Manley Hopkins                

 Márgarét, áre you gríeving 

Over Goldengrove unleaving? 

Leáves like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? 

Ah! ás the heart grows older 

It will come to such sights colder 

By and by, nor spare a sigh 

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; 

And yet you wíll weep and know why. 

Now no matter, child, the name: 

Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same. 

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed 

What heart heard of, ghost guessed: 

It ís the blight man was born for, 

It is Margaret you mourn for. 

 

–"A Work of Artifice" by Marge Piercy (1936-present)

–"On His Blindness" by John Milton (1608-1674)

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (1882-1956)

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

–Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

–Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

–Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

–John Donne (1572-1631)

–David Middleton (1949-present)

–Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

–Christian Wiman (1966-present)

 

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 Episode #21: The Eternal Argument with Erin Karl of Analytical Grammar

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Erin Karl of Analytical Grammar not only shares our devious sense of humor, but is a kindred spirit when it comes to our approach toward literature. We had the joy of meeting her on the convention circuit last year, and we think it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Erin's mother, Robin Finley, authored The Eternal Argument, a fantastic guide for getting started with understanding the ideas that undergird the Great Books. Erin kindly agreed to join us on BibioFiles to talk about her mother's work.

Referenced Materials:

The Eternal Argument by Robin Finley

–www.analyticalgrammar.com

The Eternal Argument – Why We Read Great Books Facebook Page

Analytical Grammar Facebook Page

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

–A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Lord of the Flies by WIlliam Golding

 

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 Episode #20: What's the Big Deal About Shakespeare?

Everyone seems to make such a fuss over Shakespeare. Is he really worth all the hype, or are we just required to like him because that's what literary people do? In this conversation, the CenterForLit tribe discusses the Bard and what sets him apart from our other literary heroes. What are you missing if you haven't cracked open one of his plays? The answer might not be what you expect...

Referenced Materials:

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Including...

–Measure for Measure

–Henry V

–1 and 11 Henry IV

Macbeth

Cymbeline

The Tempest

–Hamlet

King Lear

Julius Caesar

–The Merchant of Venice

 

–Tradition and the Individual Talent by T.S. Eliot

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

 

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 Episode #19: An Interview with Author Gary D. Schmidt

This is a very special episode of BiblioFiles. From Anson's Way and Straw Into Gold to the more recent Orbiting Jupiter, the works of Newberry Award-winner Gary D. Schmidt have had a profound influence on the family culture and experience of the Andrews for quite some time. To speak with Mr. Schmidt was a dream come true, and an honor and privilege of the highest measure. We are as pleased as can be to share this conversation with you, and we know that you will find this wonderful man just as thoughtful and moving as his art.

Referenced Materials:

– Gary Schmidt's Official Website: http://www.hmhbooks.com/schmidt

Anson’s Way, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Orbiting Jupiter, and Straw Into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

– The work of Laurie Halse Anderson 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Heart in the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

A Man for a Seasons by Robert Bolt

–The work Stephen R. Donaldson

Tower of Babel by Ted Chiang

Shadowlands by William Nicholson

The Problem of Pain and The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

 

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 Episode #18: Justice and Judgment

Part of what it means to be human is that we all inherently desire justice. Everyone should get what they deserve, and it's bothersome when that often isn't the case. But do we really want what we deserve? Authors have been considering this question since ancient times, and in today's podcast, with Ian and Emily out on vacation, Adam, Missy, and Megan gather to talk about this theme that has been popping up so often in the books they've been reading recently. 

Referenced Materials:

The Odyssey of Homer

The Inferno by Dante

–BiblioFiles Episode #15 with Andrew Kern

–The Book of Job

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban

–"Redemption" by George Herbert

The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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

Mere Christianity 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 Episode #17: Fantasy Literature and Fairy Tales with Andrew Pudewa

Witches, wizards, and wands--oh my! Fantasy literature can be some pretty murky waters for teachers and parents, but who better to help us navigate these seas than Andrew Pudewa, the head of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and the godfather of CenterForLit? Andrew is not only a very dear friend of ours, but is pretty much the reason we exist in the first place. We had such a wonderful time talking to him about this sticky but also fascinating subject, and as usual he left us with plenty of things to think about.

Referenced Materials:

Institute for Excellence in Writing (iew.com)

–"The Ethics of Elfland" in Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

–"The World is Too Much With Us" by William Wordsworth

 

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 Episode #16: Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction: is it more historical or fictional? So many of our favorites fall into this genre, but how do we stay honest about the line between fact and fabrication in our reading of these works? There may just be some cautions we need to take when we approach historical fiction in order to hear the author clearly. For example, how can we make sure the story doesn't incorrectly influence our understanding of history, or that our understanding of history doesn't incorrectly influence our reading of the story? This hot topic is next in line for episode 16 of BiblioFiles!

Referenced Works:

–John De Gree of The Classical Historian

– Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Macbeth, Richard III, and Henry V by William Shakespeare

The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed

Ink on his Fingers by Louise A. Vernon

The Cat of Bubastes and The Dragon and the Ravon by G.A. Henty

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

– "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Titanic directed by James Cameron

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Mouse of Amherst by Elizabeth Spires

Ben and Me by Robert Lawson

The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

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 Episode #15: Exploring Homer with Andrew Kern

Andrew and the Andrews: a match made in heaven. Who better to sit at the BiblioFiles table than the beloved mover-and-shaker of the classical education world and our dear friend, Andrew Kern? We couldn't think of anyone better to help us tackle the bedrock of the Great Conversation. And boy, we were right. This time we're talking Homer, and this is a must-hear episode! The length of the podcast might have gotten a leeeee-tle out of hand--but what did you expect?? We sure weren't going to cut any of it out.

Referenced Works:

The Illiad and The Odyssey of Homer

An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis

The Children's Homer by Padraic Colum

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff

–www.circeinstitute.org

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