Marking Time, Book by Book

Marking Time, Book by Book

In which we welcome our new Communications and Marketing Director, Cecily Hill, to The Notebook and the Books@Work team. As Cecily writes: “Books@Work is a natural extension of the work I undertook while pursuing my PhD: exploring the impact books and narrative have on life-long opportunities and our interactions with others.” Please help us welcome her to the fold.

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Opening Windows Through Others’ Stories

Opening Windows Through Others’ Stories

Reading, writing and discussing poetry has the power to open windows in life-changing ways, giving readers the freedom to tell their own stories and view themselves as capable learners and contributors. Our current partnership with the East Cleveland Municipal Court and From Lemons to Lemonade (FL2L) bring Books@Work to a group of single mothers and other women whose lives rarely afford them the opportunity to read, let alone reflect.

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Significant Grant From The Teagle Foundation Propels Books@Work

Significant Grant From The Teagle Foundation Propels Books@Work

We are extraordinarily excited to share the news of our new partnership with The Teagle Foundation, enabling Books@Work to take a giant step toward significantly furthering its reach. Last week, the Foundation announced a $150,000 two-year grant to support and scale our programs and research activities. Established in 1944, The Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen liberal arts education, as a prerequisite for rewarding work, meaningful citizenship and a fulfilling life. Books@Work forms a part of a new special project entitled, “Liberal Arts Education Beyond the Academy.” This initiative supports programs for individuals in underserved communities who may not have access to higher education but who may derive substantial benefit from exposure to the liberal arts and university communities.

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Borges’ Idiosyncratic Library

Borges’ Idiosyncratic Library

In just seven pages of text, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges raises profound questions about the meaning and value of knowledge in his 1941 essay, “The Library of Babel”: the timelessness of knowledge, its organization, the identity of its stewards and its accessibility. In this installment of “A Text at Work” we invite you to read Borges’ essay, consider the questions posed by Professor Peter Haas in a recent Books@Work seminar, and contribute to the conversation in the comments section.

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In Support of the Moral Authority of Professors

In Support of the Moral Authority of Professors

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Mark Bauerlein, Emory University English professor, took aim at an increasingly broken higher education system, this time with professors in his cross-hairs. “You can’t become a moral authority,” he writes “if you rarely challenge students in class and engage them beyond it.” But Books@Work demonstrates that the professor is not only a moral authority, but a powerful agent for effective change.

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Building Faculty Community by Recognizing Diversity

Building Faculty Community by Recognizing Diversity

Last month Books@Work organized a gathering for Cleveland-area college and university professors who have taught, are teaching or plan to teach in Books@Work seminars graciously hosted by Case Western Reserve University’s Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, a major hub of humanities activity in the Northeast Ohio region. Along with an opportunity to socialize, attendees were introduced to the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, a prestigious prize awarded to literature that confronts racism and celebrates diversity. We look forward to many opportunities to deepen our partnership with the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and with the Baker-Nord Center in the coming year.

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Announcing Our First Digital Badge Earner

Announcing Our First Digital Badge Earner

To certify her learning in a Books@Work program, Patti Doud completed the requirements for a digital badge, part of Mozilla’s Open Badge system. The experience of the learning itself, along with the opportunity to reflect on that learning through the digital badge program, was extraordinary for Patti. It not only exposed her to new books, created lasting relationships with colleagues and gave her access to professors with whom she otherwise wouldn’t have interacted; Books@Work changed the way that Patti reads.

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Distortions: An Author’s Past and a Reader’s Present

Distortions: An Author’s Past and a Reader’s Present

Context is important in understanding works of literature. But readers of literature — particularly those in Books@Work seminars — are not only historians. They read for all sorts of reasons. To hear stories. To encounter the other. To understand the world around them. To hear the beauty of the written word. To escape the familiar. To embrace the familiar. And so even as we acknowledge, unpack and rethink the meaning of works like Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum in light of the author’s past and how he concealed that past, we also continue to read. As you read, how much does the author’s past affect how you perceive the story?

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April, Come She Will

April, Come She Will

The festivities surrounding National Poetry Month reminds us that poems can speak to us in ways that few other things can, capturing fleeting moments or complicated emotions on their own terms. A first encounter with a poem can be difficult. But like so much in reading, peeling back the layers of the text to see new things reveals new meanings and new ways of seeing the world. Tight and taut, the poem invites scrutiny, gives space for reading and re-reading, encourages self-examination alongside reading, urges engagement — also the hallmark of the Books@Work learning experience.

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Curious Critics

Curious Critics

Allison Schifani, a veteran professor of Books@Work seminars reflects on the willingness of participants to engage with theory. She writes, “My experience leading Books@Work seminars has offered a wonderful, and surprising, counter to the narrative that seems most popularly accepted about literary theory. Participants arrive with ease and enjoyment at a critical reading that is sometimes nearly impossible to get from my undergraduate students. It helped me remember that while the literary critic and her language might be unpopular, the work she does is work that matters.”

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