Topic: Literature

John green square

Current Event August 14, 2015

John Green and the Teenage Experience

Literature Fiction Writing

Author John Green is called the Teen Whisperer. His novel, 'The Fault in our Stars,' has sold over a million copies and his young adult novels have huge numbers of fans. Green’s 2009 novel, 'Paper Town,' also focuses on the lives of teenagers and has been made into a movie. Listen to John Green and find out why he sees teenagers as inspirational.

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Defining and understanding heroism

ELA High School

Low

Defining and Understanding Heroism

Literature Culture Biography Storytelling

What is heroism? Explore this question through a discussion with author Conn Iggulden who wrote a book about heroes throughout time. From Florence Nightingale to Harry Houdini, and the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, the author analyzes the moments and patterns of courage and bravery that make ordinary people heroes.

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Jane austen 1870

ELA High School

Understanding Jane Austen's Life

Literature Gender Biography Writing

Author Jane Austen is well known for her novels that reflect on romance and the familial and cultural standards of late 18th century England. Some paint Austen as a drab spinster, but a new biography by Paula Byrne explores the real Austen through objects that were important to her in her life and literature. This portrait of an opinionated, fun loving Austen will help you understand her life, family and themes she revisits in her works.

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798px dante domenico di michelino duomo florence

ELA High School

Translations of 'Dante's Inferno'

Literature Religion Poetry World History I

Dante Alighieri finished writing the three-part epic poem “Divine Comedy” in 1321. The poem’s three parts include: hell, purgatory and heaven, and follows one man on his journey through all three places. This great work of Italian literature has survived the ages and remains a classic today. There have been many translations of Dante’s work. This story interviews Clive James, the most recent English translator, as he talks about this epic poem and his translated version of “Divine Comedy.”

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374px moby dick final chase

ELA High School

Herman Melville's Influences for 'Moby-Dick'

Literature US History I Biography Civil War

Herman Melville’s classic American novel “Moby-Dick” tells the story of whaling captain Ahab’s quest to kill the white whale Moby-Dick. This somewhat simplistic plot retelling misses the thematic and historical undertones of this massive novel. The novel was a critical and commercial failure when it was released in 1851 but experienced a resurgence after World War I. Listen to learn about the writing of “Moby-Dick” and how Melville was influenced by the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shakespeare, as well as the tensions of pre-Civil War America.

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Jane eyre.square

Current Event May 29, 2015

Jane Eyre Reimagined

Literature Gender Fiction

Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” is a classic coming of age tale of orphan Jane Eyre’s growth and morality. The original novel was published in England in 1847 and reflected the culture and standards of the time. A new novel by author Patricia Park, “Re Jane,” reimagines the tale, placing it in modern Korean American culture. Listen to hear from the author about how she was influenced by Jane Eyre and how the story resonates with her own culture and experience.

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Honor and the scarlett letter

ELA High School

"Other Than Honorable Discharge" from Military has Similarities to the 'Scarlet Letter'

Literature Psychology Ethics war Classics

In 'The Scarlet Letter' Nathaniel Hawthorne explores inclusion and exclusion in Puritan Boston. Hester Prynne is exposed to public humiliation and exclusion for breaking societal standards and having a child out of wedlock. Veterans experience similar exclusion and dishonor. When they are discharged with the label of "Other Than Honorable," they are marked with a figurative Scarlet Letter, ashamed and unable to gain veterans' benefits.

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Act ii scene ii %e2%80%93 juliet on the balcony

Current Event May 7, 2015

Women in Shakespeare

Literature Gender Drama

William Shakespeare is one of the most well-known playwrights in history. His stories of love, tragedy, comedy and history written in the late 1500s have transcended the centuries thanks to their timeless themes and complex characters. Author Tina Packer has tracked the development of Shakespeare’s female characters through his writing career and suggests that from “Romeo and Juliet” on, Shakespeare wrote unusually complex women for his time and should be considered a proto-feminist. Listen to learn more about the development of these female characters over his career.

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Steinbeck.grapes.wrath

ELA High School

Steinbeck and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’

US History II Literature American Literature Great Depression

American author John Steinbeck published his epic novel “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1939, but his journey writing the novel was much longer. The novel tells the story of Oklahoma migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl for work in California’s migrant worker camps. Steinbeck did months of research and spent much of mid-to-late 1930s with migrants in camps for a series of articles in the San Francisco News. As a result, “The Grapes of Wrath” spoke to the working class during the Depression era, and continues to resonate today with its themes of struggle, redemption, greed and goodness. Listen to learn more about this great American novel.

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Gabrielgarciamarquez.square

Current Event April 17, 2015

The Legacy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Literature Biography

One year ago today, a Latin American literary icon died. Gabriel Garcia Marquez introduced magical realism and Latin American history to the literary canon in “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” His use of fantasy and symbolism to describe the history of his native Colombia struck a chord in Latin America and around the world. Garcia Marquez won a Nobel Prize and led a boom in Latin American literature. Listen to learn more about the life, literature and legacy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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Ernest hemingways writing style

ELA High School

Ernest Hemingway's Writing Style

Literature Writing American Literature Classics Writing Process

American author and journalist Ernest Hemingway exemplified his literary style with novels like, “The Sun Also Rises,” “A Farewell to Arms,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” Hemingway’s adventurous life inspired these stories. From running with the bulls in Spain to fighting in World War II, Hemingway was a larger than life celebrity known for his machismo and literary skill. Hemingway’s talent was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. His writing style, which consists of short sentences that describe the external world, changed American literature forever.

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The truth can be powerful

ELA High School

Vonnegut Discusses 'Slaughterhouse-Five'

Literature World War II war Science Fiction Satire Writing Process

Kurt Vonnegut used his personal experience as a prisoner of war during World War II to write the novel "Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade." Twenty-five years after this experience, Vonnegut memorialized it in a unconventional novel that combined satire and science fiction to reveal the reality of war. Listen to learn more about what inspired the novel and how it liberated people to honestly discuss war.

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Editing jane austen

ELA High School

Editing Jane Austen

Literature Gender Fiction Classics Narrative Writing Process

Jane Austen wrote a new type of female character. Emma Woodhouse of "Emma" and Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice" are two memorable characters. They were charming but normal, flawed but winning. The legend of Austen is that she wrote her novels exactly as they were published, but the release of her original manuscripts suggests she had an active editor. Does it matter that an editor helped clean up Austen’s prose or is it her genius that shines through?

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Voltaire.square

Current Event February 27, 2015

Voltaire's Surging Popularity

Literature Religion World History I

When Voltaire wrote Treatise on Tolerance in 1763, it was an important and relevant work. The work’s message of religious tolerance is experiencing a resurgence over 250 years later in modern day France. After attacks by religious extremists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, people in France who are looking for answers and a denunciation of violence in the name of religion are finding it in Voltaire. Listen to learn what inspired this 18th century book and why people are turning to it today.

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Saving literary masterpieces

ELA High School

Saving Literary Masterpieces

Literature Ethics Fiction Biography

Franz Kafka worked at an insurance company and wrote in his spare time. He asked that all his personal papers, including literary manuscripts be burned when he died. After Kafka’s death, his friend and literary executor Max Brod ignored Kafka’s wishes and published many of his manuscripts. "The Trial," a novel about law, justice and the arrest and prosecution of a man for an unknown crime, was one of these manuscripts. Other people face similar decisions around respecting the wishes of an artist or writer by destroying their work. Listen to a conversation with an ethicist as he discusses the implications of this debate through a modern day example.

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Remebering the vietnam war in literature and in life

ELA High School

Creating the Vietnam War Memorial

US History II Literature Culture war Vietnam War

The Vietnam War has a controversial legacy in United States history and culture. The U. S. was immersed in the conflict in Vietnam for 20 years. The draft of young men to fight far from home in the seemingly endless war led to widespread resistance and protest against the war itself. This discontent led to a disrespect of veterans when they returned. Since then the sacrifice of soldiers has been honored in memorials, movies and books. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in 1982 in Washington DC. But it was controversial at the start because it honored soldiers by etching the names of the more than 58,000 soldiers killed in polished black granite. Listen to this radio story to learn the history behind this war memorial.

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A real life gatsby

ELA High School

A Real Life Gatsby

Literature Psychology American Literature Historical Fiction

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby" James “Jimmy” Gatz becomes Jay Gatsby. Gatsby creates a false identity for himself to enter the world of wealth and power that his beloved, Daisy Buchanan, lives in. The novel explores this world of excess and what it takes for Gatsby to truly enter it. This premise of false identity has moved from fiction to reality. Listen to learn about a real life Gatsby who called himself “Clark Rockefeller.”

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Playwright arthur millers life

ELA High School

Setting and Symbolism in Arthur Miller's Life and Work

Literature Biography Drama Writing Process

Playwright Arthur Miller wrote plays that spoke to the common man. From his commentary on the American dream in "Death of a Salesman" to McCarthyism in "The Crucible," Miller wrote hard-hitting personal dramas that also resonated with a wide spectrum of American people, especially the working class. Listen to learn more about Miller’s roots, his writing process, and how his personal background—particularly his house and writing space—compare to backgrounds shared by his characters.

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Animal emotions in literature

ELA Middle School

Low

Animals Display Emotions

Literature Psychology Animals Nonfiction

From "Shiloh" to "Lassie" and "Old Yeller," young adult literature is full of stories about friendship between people and dogs. People love animals but what do animals feel? There is a debate in the scientific community and in popular culture about what emotions animals are capable of and how they display these emotions. Does recognizing that animals can feel take away from human emotion? Or does it help us recognize where these traits came from? This story discusses recent research on the emotions of animals. Listen to learn more about what researchers discovered, and the controversy surrounding the emotional lives of animals.

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Young adults and choices

ELA Middle School

Low

Natalie Babbitt Writes for Young Readers in 'Tuck Everlasting'

Literature Fiction Young Adult Literature Coming of Age

Author Natalie Babbitt has been writing books for young people for four decades. Her respect for young readers shines through in the themes of her novels, from love and everlasting life in “Tuck Everlasting” to money and dreams in her first non-fantasy novel, “The Moon Over High Street.” In this interview, Babbitt describes her perspective on writing for young people.

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