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Harry Potter & the Pretty Tall Compost Pile: John Granger Lectures on J.K. Rowling’s Modern Classic PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Stephanie Grider and Ellie Ryan   
Tuesday, 21 April 2009 08:08

(Editor's note: John Granger, the author of The Hidden Key to Harry Potter and Looking for God in Harry Potter, will present two lectures in the Quad Cities on Thursday, April 23: "From Muggle Lead to Spiritual Gold: The Literary Alchemy of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels" at 10:30 a.m. in Augustana College's Centennial Hall (3703 Seventh Avenue in Rock Island), and "Why Reading Matters: Good Books & the Life of Christ" at 7 p.m. at Broadway Presbyterian Church (710 23rd Street in Rock Island). What follows is the transcript of an interview of Granger by Augustana students Stephanie Grider and Ellie Ryan. For more information on Granger, visit HogwartsProfessor.com.)

Ellie Ryan: You have said that readers of the Harry Potter novels experience what you call "apotheosis," or a kind of spiritual transformation via their identification with Harry as they are reading. Please say more about that.

 
History, by the Book: James W. Loewen Talks About “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” April 15-17 PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:16

James W. LoewenThe cliché says that history is written by the winners, but that's not true when it comes to history textbooks.

For the most part, they're not even written by the "authors" whose names grace the covers. Instead, they're written by employees of or freelancers for publishing companies deathly afraid of controversy -- fearful that a passage offensive to virtually any constituency will result in their books not being adopted in schools.

James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me -- first published in 1995, and revised and updated in 2007 -- documents how badly the most popular high-school textbooks teach American history. As part of the Quad City Arts Super Author program, Loewen will discuss his work at seven programs from April 15 to 17. (For a list of events, click here. To read about Chris Crutcher -- the other Super Author visiting our area next week -- see "Innocence, Ignorance, and Experience: Quad City Arts 'Super Author' Chris Crutcher Discusses His Controversial Young-Adult Literature.")

Loewen has also written Lies Across America (which tackles historic-site markers the same way he attacked history textbooks) and Sundown Towns, about communities with written or unwritten laws designed to keep them free of racial minorities. And he co-wrote a textbook on Mississippi history that gave him his first insight into the textbook-adoption process that avoids controversy at the expense of truth.

Accessible, passionate, detailed, and often startling, Lies My Teacher Told Me documents the errors, lies, and omissions that mar history textbooks -- opening with Helen Keller's ignored radicalism and expanding its scope from there, dealing extensively with society's treatment of Native Americans and blacks and also critiquing the presentation of more modern events, including the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

Beyond the details that are wrong, the core narratives in these textbooks are problematic, Loewen said in a phone interview last week. He said history textbooks suggest "unrelenting, automatic progress," the idea that "we started out great and we've been getting better ever since."

 
Innocence, Ignorance, and Experience: Quad City Arts “Super Author” Chris Crutcher Discusses His Controversial Young-Adult Literature PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 06:00

Chris CrutcherChris Crutcher, the author of more than a dozen books and short stories featuring teenage protagonists, has earned a bevy of awards and accolades over his 26-year writing career, with eight of his works named "Best Books for Young Adults" by the American Library Association, and Teen Book Review hailing 2007's Deadline as "a brilliant, well-written, thought-provoking, and, to put it simply, truly amazing novel."

So why do so many people seem so angry at him?

 
Alive, Kicking, and Delivering Just Desserts: Author Rick Moody, October 23 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 02:27

Reader issue #706 In April, Rick Moody fulfilled a fantasy that many artists surely have: He delivered a pie to the face of one of his critics.

 
Fitting the Art In: Farah Marklevits Opens the “River Readings at Augustana” Series, September 18 PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 02:47

Reader issue #701 "I didn't really get interested in poetry until I got here," explains author and Augustana College alumna Farah Marklevits, during a recent interview on the school campus. "I went on a Latin American term, and we read Pablo Neruda in Chile at, like, his house, which is on the coast. And it just captured me. We're in Chile, and there's the ocean, and the professors had a copy of his poems, and they were reading them, and it was just like ... wow."

Less than a decade after Marklevits' 1999 graduation, it's now her readers who are saying "wow."

 
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