The 2013-14 Global Literature Online Book Group for Educators will include novels and literary non-fiction from the Middle East, Central America, East Africa, Russia and various regions in Asia.
Each of the narratives selected for this year’s Global Online Book Group are embedded in a historical moment of political and social significance for the region in which it takes place. Russian, Cuban, and Egyptian revolutions each transform the lives and loyalties of individuals and families within these novels, while we see armed conflict as well as economic and social forces shape choices and formation of identity in Somalia, China and India.
Each hour-long session will be hosted by a different Harvard global studies center or program, and will feature presentations by the chosen book's author or a relevant scholar. There will also be opportunities for discussion and Q+A. Guiding questions and learning goals will be provided prior to each session, as well as accompanying non-fiction texts for suggested use in the classroom.
Sessions for the 2013-2014 book group are listed to the right.
Registration is now open for our first session: a discussion of The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin.
Books selected for the global book group are intended to engage educators in discussion about global issues and use of literature in the classroom. Although teachers may use some of these texts with students, others may not be appropriate for the grade levels they teach.
Through literary texts and accompanying non-fiction readings, the Global Online Book Group is designed for participants to explore how knowledge of history and understanding of literature can mutually strengthen one another. Together they support educators in developing a more critical and robust ability to engage with contemporary global issues.
Through these readings participants will be asked to consider:
1. What kind of borders or boundaries are described within this novel? (Borders between countries? Boundaries between groups or individuals? Boundaries between what is sanctioned and what is forbidden? Between the present and the past?)
How does the author describe these boundaries? Are they permeable or impermeable? Who crosses them and why? What does this tell us about the characters and their relationship to the contexts in which they live?
2. What role do dreams and visions play within this novel? (Literal dreams? Revolutionary dreams for a country, a community, or a life?)
How does the author describe these dreams or visions? Within the narrative, what is the relationship between these dreams and the waking world? What is the relationship between vision and reality? What ideas do you think the author was trying to communicate through these themes?
How does the non-fiction reading help you to understand these themes?
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts stress the importance of literature as a tool to advance global competencies:
“Students appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.”
The State Standards (CCSS) additionally call for an increase in text-level engagement and emphasize the role of non-fiction and informational text in the development of, and goals for, student reading comprehension. The combined literary narratives and non-fiction texts support educators and students in engaging with the following standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.6: Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Each online session will be conducted in an Adobe Connect virtual classroom space and can be accessed from any computer equipped with the latest version of Flash. Before a session, test your internet connection and version of Flash for compatibility with AdobeConnect at this diagnostic link. Sessions include live audio and video, and participants have the option to interact via their own mic and webcam or via text in a live chat box.