Thursday, December 2, 2010

Critical Issues: Taste Classifies...(part two)

A few weeks ago I made a post that linked Pierre Bourdieu and the permanent collection at Harvard through a discussion of changing the face of the collection by adding portraits to show the complexion of the college community. I posed questions to the blog followers asking who you would like to serve as a representation of our institution and, further, asking what ways do you think that the art on the walls (however narrowly or broadly defined) classifies the institution.

This week, I've been asking students a different kind of question: If the college were to do something together -- as a community -- such as reading a book, what book would you select? Your choice could come from poetry or prose, fiction or non. Might you choose epic? tragedy or comedy for you Shakespeareans among us? novel, short story, or creative non-fiction? Would you select fiction, biography, spiritual, historical?

The choice should not be full of jargon or purely discipline specific and appeal to the widest possible audience -- students, staff, and faculty. Here are some of the responses that students have given (and I've provided links from for editions that I've selected for demonstration purposes only):

Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist

Vandana Shiva's Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit

Bill McKibben's Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot

Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

John Gardner's Grendel

What book would you choose? And why? Please post here and let's discuss.

Photo pulled from Black Swan Books. If you've not been, you don't know what you're missing!


art gal said...

This is a very tough question as there are so many great books out there! And, whether there are essential texts that every educated person should be familiar with is certainly a topic rich with discussion possibilities. I can recommend several books, including one I recently read and found captivating: "Till We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis. (It's a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche and delves into philosophical questions about faith and love.) However, to select a text representative of the entire College community involves not only a thorough examination of self, it also requires extreme extrospection.

Cortney Ragene said...

My suggestion would be Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

This is a true story about the amazing power of love and human kindness that takes place between a mentor and his pupil. I chose this for many reasons. For starters: it reminds me of the affection and gratitude that many people have (or still feel for) the significant mentors of our present (or past.) It shows a man letting his mentor how much he meant to him. This books shows the possibility of how one can maybe even resume the mentorship? The book introduces Morrie Schwartz-a professor, And finally the reader sees the intimate moments of Morrie's final days as he lies dying from a terminal illness. Even on his deathbed, this twinkling-eyed mensch manages to teach us all about living robustly and fully.