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Three of the Best Books from Poland

By Audrey Golden. Feb 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History, Literary travel

The twentieth century was a complicated and often tragic one for Poland. The years leading up to Polish independence and the Second Republic were characterized by uprisings against the partitioning powers surrounding the region, and that independence was short-lived. During World War II, Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, and many of the most notorious concentration camps were located within Poland’s borders. Once the war came to an end, Communist Poland, within the Soviet sphere of influence, became a repressive state. In the decades that followed, Polish citizens waged acts of resistance against various regime policies, culminating in some ways with the Solidarity movement in the early 1980s. Yet despite—or perhaps due to—its tumultuous political past, Poland has produced some of the most notable writers of the modern period. Are you interested in learning more about Poland and its writers of imaginative literature? We have some suggestions for you.

     
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Freedom of the Press Battles in America

By Matt Reimann. Dec 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, History

In 1853, a Swedish visitor named Per Siljeström noted that “In no country in the world is the taste for reading so diffused among the people as in America.” Alexis de Tocqueville reached a similar conclusion two decades earlier, while surveying the young nation. The French sociologist observed the overwhelming inclination for reading and self-education among the American people. He even went so far as to call this land “the most enlightened community in the world.” The United States began as a nation of bookworms.

     
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Portraits of Appalachia: Stereotypical Images of the Mountain Man on Local Color Literature

By Stewart Plein. Dec 10, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

How is stereotype developed and how is it spread? Historically, books have played a role as purveyors of stereotype, both intentionally and unintentionally. It’s easy to think of a book’s text as promoting stereotypical points of view, but the book’s cover design is just as influential.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, book cover design was an unwitting influence on the development of the Appalachian stereotype. The artistic portraits of Appalachia and Appalachians found on the covers of books widely dispersed to reading audiences across the nation had a lasting impact on the stereotypical image of Appalachia. 

     
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Women Writing War Literature

By Audrey Golden. Oct 26, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

Which novels and works of poetry might fall into the broad category of war literature? Should we look only to fiction that depicts combat and its aftermath? Or is this category of literature sufficiently wide-ranging that it can also comprise texts written during and about wartime more generally? Regardless of how you answer these questions, you might realize that the novels and short-story collections commonly classified as literature about war have one thing in common: they’re often written by male writers. Yet not all works of this genre—not by a long shot—are written by male writers. Why has this been a category so dominated by men when many women are in fact writing novels, short stories, poetry collections, and dramatic works that could and should be discussed as important texts of war literature?

     
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Remembering the Legacy of Elie Wiesel

By Matt Reimann. Sep 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, History

When Elie Wiesel passed away over the summer, the world entered a state of collective mourning. Rarely was there a public figure so universally respected and missed. Schoolchildren grew up reading his books. World leaders bore witness to his eloquence and message. Wiesel had seen humanity plunge to its worst, and his life was devoted to fight against that ever happening again.

     
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The Stories of American Immigrants

By Andrea Diamond. Aug 31, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, History

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" ~ The New Colossus

These words have greeted thousands upon thousands of immigrants throughout the course of history, immigrants who often brought no more than the clothes on their backs, a few suitcases, and a story waiting to be told.

     
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What to Read for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games

By Matt Reimann. Aug 5, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

Tonight, as soon as the torch is lit at the Rio Summer Olympics, the world will have its eyes fixed on television screens across the globe. Watching the events of the Games has been an international tradition since we've had TVs in our homes. Yet what’s less common is to get into the Olympics spirit not by watching, but by reading. They may not be as immediate as a live stream broadcast of the high-dive, but good Olympics books can do you a lot of good.

     
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Holling C. Holling: Stories and Lessons

By Connie Diamond. Aug 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, History

Who, as a child, has not at least entertained the idea of tying a note to a balloon and sending it out into the great beyond, or scrolling a message in a bottle and tossing it into the sea? The thought of something we authored soaring over the landscape or riding the tides to eventually connect with someone far away is almost as thrilling as going on an adventure ourselves. It may be this innate desire for exploration and connection beyond our backyards—beyond our borders—that has led to the timeless popularity of the children’s books written by Holling C. Holling.

     
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Czesław Miłosz's Political and Literary Legacy

By Adrienne Rivera. Jun 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, History

Czesław Miłosz was born in 1911 in Poland to an ethnically Lithuanian civil engineer and a Polish noble. Miłosz was raised in Lithuania, and though it caused much controversy in his life, he would never ally himself formally with either Poland or Lithuanian, saying that he was born in Poland, and was therefore technically Polish, but that he was raised with the spirit of the Lithuanian people and could not deny that part of himself. Interestingly, Miłosz's literary and political efforts would cause him to remain on the fringe, only recognized in and by his homeland later in his life.

     
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Did Shakespeare Really Write His Plays?

By Matt Reimann. Jun 24, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, History, Drama

The life of Shakespeare is shaped by two major qualities: excellence and obscurity. For this reason, his biography has been subject to much scrutiny and speculation. The central question that plagues the legacy of Shakespeare is a famous one, and gets down to the reality of the figure himself. Did Shakespeare, the great poet and dramatist, really exist as we know him?

     
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