Books change lives

change livesIn case you were thinking that I was teaching students how to be “hype-machines” in my Literary Citizenship class, check this out from my student James Gartner:

Literary citizenship isn’t just about engaging people who already love to read or write and talk about books, but also about expanding the literary world. Books can change lives and influence attitudes for good or ill.

Read the rest of his excellent round-up post here.

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The Dystopia- Favorite Social Issue Addressed in Fiction

Another way to think about Literary Citizenship: do we have an obligation to raise and address social issues in what we write? Does what we read reveal our societal concerns? For example, one of my favorite dystopian novels is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I realize speaks to my anxieties about women’s equality. Read this post by Eric Long and share with us your favorite dystopian novels and WHY you like them.

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Dystopian fiction has always been one of my favorite concepts in literature. Ever since reading Orwells’s 1984 in high school, followed by Aldous Huxley’s Brand New WorldI developed a slight, SLIGHT, obsession. A dystopia, for those of you who don’t know, is basically the opposite of a utopia. It’s an idea proposed to challenge the concepts used to achieve a utopia. For instance, Judge Dredd (super-future-cold-hearted-etc cop) does a hell of a job enforcing the law and minimizing crime rates, but does so at the cost of impoverished citizenship with leaps and bounds of social prejudice. For the rich this might seem like a utopia, but even from that perspective, I doubt you could argue against the derelict living conditions of 90% of the population. Some other fun dystopian universes I enjoy (Yay!):

  • The Matrix
  • Equilibrium
  • Clockwork Orange
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Blade Runner
  • Animal Farm
  • I…

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The UIndy Publishing Internship Network (PLUS: A Call For More Presses/Journals)

What if all creative writing programs did this? What if instead of expecting our students to figure it out on their own, we gave them some stars to steer by?

Salvatore Pane

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I’m so excited to announce that the UIndy English department will be teaming up with a large group of presses and journals over the next few years to offer our students onsite and offsite internships with organizations based in Los Angeles and Manhattan and hopefully everywhere else in between. This builds heavily off the work of Prof. Kevin McKelvey, and over the upcoming summer and fall, we’re placing our students into internships with Boss Fight Books, Braddock Avenue Books, and a host of other magazines and presses we shouldn’t announce just quite yet. I’m hoping to extend and build connections with other presses and journals over the coming months, and if you’re interested in having either an onsite or offsite intern in the fall, spring, or summer, please do not hesitate to contact me at panes@uindy.edu. This is an amazing opportunity for our students to get hands…

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A Better Place For Readers

These are excellent questions: What are some books that you needed and didn’t know about? What are some books that you had that helped you figure things out? And how are you making sure that other people know how great they are?

Brittany Means

When we talk about Literary Citizenship, it seems like we say a lot about making the world a better place for writers, and getting people interested in books. Which they definitely should be. But maybe we should start talking about how to make the world a better place for readers too. Let me explain. As a kid, reading was such an important part of my life. I read on the toilet, at recess, when I should have been sleeping, during church.

ImageOne series that I loved with all of my heart was A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. What made it so great was that Violet Baudelaire, the oldest, was a girl like me and she was the one who was generally in charge, saving the day, fixing everything. As a kid who was also, incidentally, a girl, and someone not very in control of the events in her life…

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The Art of the Book Review

Here’s a great roundup about the art of book reviewing. This is what I really want my students to understand: that to REALLY review a book is to embrace a new art form with seriousness of purpose and a commitment to do it well.

Linda Taylor: Writer, Editor, Speaker

I just got off the phone with my friend, L. Marie, who recently created a blog, “Thoughts about writing and life.” I’m thrilled that she’s blogging! We chatted about Literary Citizenship and how she needs this online presence in order to impress the agents where she’s currently shopping her young adult fantasy book. She has an MFA and is a terrific writer—but she realized that she needed to get online and join the literary world. I talked to her all about what we’re doing in our class; we talked through WordPress and how to add hyperlinks and tags. She’s on a roll now!

She’s also an avid reader, so I encouraged her to do reviews of books (her current blog is a movie review that ties into her writing). And wouldn’t you know it, our Lit Cit class is talking about that very topic this week. Book reviews are…

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