James Baldwin couldn’t be more relevant, but he is fading from America’s high school classrooms. His controversial writing, censorship, poor student reading habits, and absence from the Common Core are all to blame for the lack of Baldwin in the curriculum. Pair with: Our essay on why Baldwin’s work still resonates.
Yesterday marked eight years since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti and a few days ago Trump put the country back in the news (but not in an reflective or uplifting way). Looking to learn more about Haiti sans racist rhetoric? The New York Times has “three books by Haitian writers that provide insight into the country’s history of struggle and resistance.” Find the list here.
We take it for granted that our language will grow and change. But one thing we think less often about is that our alphabet is subject to the same forces. Herewith, Carlos Lozada reads Michael Rosen’s new book Alphabetical, which delves into the origins and future prospects of our writing system.
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
Joseph L. Badaracco has been assigning works of literature to his business ethics students at Harvard in order to “help [them] develop literature skills.” The Questions of Character author believes, “literature lets you see leaders and others from the inside. You share the sense of what they’re thinking and feeling.”
At the Missouri Review blog, our own Tess Malone writes about the supposed death of the English major, which has lost a considerable amount of popularity in the last forty years in favor of “practical disciplines.” Among other things, she links to New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier’s Brandeis commencement speech, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.