Global Literature Online Book Group for Educators
A partnership of international study centers on Harvard's campus, this online reading series for k-12 educators will explore literature from five global regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, and the Islamic World. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to discuss works of global literature with experts and authors in monthly, online conversations.
Participants are welcome to register for all or individual sessions. Register for this program.
Educators who succesffully complete five sessions will be awarded 20 Professional Development Points. Educators who successfully complete all session will be awarded 30 Professional Development Points.
Recordings of past session
These recordings will launch through Flash as an AdobeConnect recording and may take a minutes to load.
Sweetness in the Belly with author Camilla Gibb and Professor William Granara.
In the Time of the Butterflies with author Julia Alvarez and Professor Glenda Carpio. (Audio recording)
The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo with Professor David R. McCannh
The Accompanist with Professor Julie Buckler
Schedule and Book Descriptions
Session One: 7:00 - 8:00pm EST August 16 2012
In the Country of Men, Hisham Matar (2008) with Margaret Litvin, Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Boston University, and the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies Outreach Center.
Written before the political changes in Libya that resulted in the overthrow and death of Muamar Qadafi, the book is written from the perspective of a 10 year old boy and his engagement with the social and political world around him in a Libya fully under Qadafi’s control.
Session Two: October 15th 2012 View a recording of this session.
Sweetness in the Belly, Camilla Gibb (2006) with Camillar Gibb and the Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard.
When Lilly is eight years old, her hippie British parents leave her at a Sufi shrine in Morocco and inform her they will be back to collect her in three days. Three weeks later, she learns they've been murdered. Lilly fills that haunted hollow in her life with intense study and memorization of the Qur'an under the patient care of the Sufi saint's disciple she was entrusted to. Years later, her journey from Morocco to Harar, Ethiopia, is half pilgrimage, half flight. In Harar, even her very traditional Muslim head scarves cannot hide her white skin in her new and strange surroundings; the word "farenji"--foreigner--is hissed at her everywhere she turns. She eventually builds a life for herself teaching children the Qur'an, and she finds herself falling in love with an idealistic young doctor. But the two are wrenched apart when Lilly is again forced to flee, for her safety and his, this time to London. Despite her British roots, Lilly discovers she is as much an outsider in London as a Muslim as she was in Harar as a white foreigner. Gibb's haunting narrative takes us seamlessly on a journey between these two distinct worlds: the ancient walled city of Harar and the racially charged atmosphere of 1980s London. Gibb richly evokes the stinging disconnect between Lilly's past life and her present life, between her attempts to start anew and her inability to let go of the past. The book offers insight into Sufism in Morocco, Islam in Ethiopia, peace and conflict in Ethiopia, Islam and Muslim immigrants’ life in Europe, and experiences of Otherness; Anthropology & Sociology, Islamic Studies, African Studies, Religious Studies.
Session Three: 7:00 - 8:00pm EST December 5 2012
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez (1994) with Julia Alvarez and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard.
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.” In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.
Session Four: 7:00 - 8:00pm EST Thursday Feburary 28 2013
Kamikaze Girls, by Novala TAKEMOTO (2008) with Professor Tomiko Yoda and the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies at Harvard University.
Life in the boondocks of rural Japan is anything but glamorous, and to escape her humdrum existence, Momoko, a "Lolita," fanaticizes about French rococo, dreams of living in the palace of Versailles, and decks herself out in the finest (and frilliest) of 18th century haute couture from an expensive Tokyo specialty store. Her dreams of an idyllic existence are rudely interrupted by the appearance of Ichigo, a tough-talking "Yanki" motorcycle-chick (on a tricked-out moped) who's part of a girls-only biker gang known as the Ponytails. Together, this unlikeliest of duos strikes out on a quest to find a legendary embroiderer, a journey that takes them to back-alley pachinko parlors, chic boutiques, and epic bike-punk battles. Novala Takemoto's hit novel Kamikaze Girls, already a cult-classic in Japan and the inspiration for an internationally acclaimed film of the same name, is more than a quirky coming-of-age tale, it's a new way of life.
Session Five: 7:00 - 8:00pm EST Tuesday April 2nd 2013
The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo, Richard Rutt (1971) with Professor David R. McCann and the Harvard University Asia Center
The sijo is the most popular and most Korean of all traditional Korean poetic forms, originating with the old songs of the Hyangka of the Sylla Empire (668-936) and the prose songs of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392). Sometimes likened to haiku for its brevity, a typical sijo poem follows a three-line pattern, with each line containing approximately fifteen syllables. The Bamboo Grove will interest not only poets and students of poetry, but scholars of Korean culture curious to view history through this important and significant form of verse.
Note: To support educator access to this text, the first forty K-12 educator registrants will recieve a copy of The Bamboo Grove from the Harvard University Asia Center.
Session Six: 7:00 - 8:00pm EST May 15th 2013
The Accompanist, Nina Berberova (1936) with Professor Julie Buckler and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard.
Written right before the height of Stalin's purges by a Russian émigré living in Paris, this novella explores the tangled relationship between an opera singer, her husband, and her accompanist. The accompanist of the title is Sonechka, an 18-year-old girl, talented but impoverished and self-deprecating by reason of her lowly origin. She is abruptly lifted from her bleak life in St. Petersburg when a famous soprano, Maria Travin, employs her as a traveling companion. The ambitious singer and her successful bourgeois husband are the center of a coterie that flows with them from Moscow to Paris in 1920, and Sonechka becomes privy to their sophisticated relationships. A confidante to Maria and yet ever watchful, insecure and apart, Sonechka internalizes her distress with life in postwar Russia and harbors plans for revenge on the affluent, beautiful diva by exposing her extramarital affair. The resolution of her plan comes about in an unexpected manner, one that is entirely out of Sonechka's control but that frees her as, in a different way, it frees the implacable diva. Exquisitely spare, the first-person narrative of this novella has a subdued intensity. This books offers insight to Russian literary style, life in the USSR as both a have and a have-not, as well as the Russian émigré lifestyle of the 1930s.
Session Seven: 7:00 - 8:00pm EST June 5th 2013
Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003) with the Harvard Committee on African Studies.
From the outside, fifteen-year-old Kambili has the perfect life. She lives in a beautiful house, has a caring family, and attends an exclusive missionary school. She's completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less than perfect in her wealthy Nigerian home. Although her papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home. He looms over his family's every move, severely punishes Kambili and her older brother, Jaja, if they're not the best in their classes, and hits their mama if she disagrees with him. Home is silent and suffocating. But everything changes once Kambili and Jaja visit Aunty Ifeoma outside the city. For the first time they experience freedom from their papa. Jaja learns to garden and work with his hands, and Kambili secretly falls in love with a young, charismatic priest. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, tension within the family escalates. And shy Kambili must find the strength to keep her family together after her mother commits a desperate act. Purple Hibiscus is a stunning debut that captures the fragile beauty of a young woman's awakening at a time when both country and family are on the cusp of change.