The Literary Arts Series is a project designed to encourage intercultural understanding and literacy in the classroom and broader community. The series is coordinated by Dr. Jessica Datema and Prof. Stacey Balkan, and Professor Brian Cordell of the Department of Composition and Literature is an associated member.
Each year, we select an individual author for study on the campus by students and colleagues, as well as friends from the larger community. We then invite an author to discuss their work with the audience at an annual speaking event. Pedagogical materials, including biographical information, reviews, excerpts, discussion questions, and other curriculum items are prepared and put up on our site. These materials are made available to support individual readers and teachers who use the author’s work in their classes as a part of a varying curricula. We mentor many students who read and study the novels so that they will have the opportunity to speak about and to the author’s work. Our community of readers includes alumni, faculty, BCC students, the school of continuing education, library reading groups, high school students, and the public. We have never charged for the annual event and entry is free.
The original mission of the project was to establish a broad-based community of readers. This ambition was first conceived by a group of ambitious librarians in Seattle—which the English department here at BCC has been able to continue and extend. Since its inception, the series has welcomed famous authors including Joyce Carol Oates, James McBride, Salman Rushdie, Jennifer Egan, Mary Gaitskill, Joseph O’Neill, Junot Diaz, Martin Espada, and Jhumpa Lahiri. We have been very fortunate to include such an esteemed group of authors in our series.
It is our intention—via both emerging and established writers—to heal the growing alienation of society that comes from technology, illiteracy and capitalist compartmentalization with the human stories that connect us to this world. The program has elevated the reputation of the college as well as levels of literacy at BCC. The Literary Arts Series aims to continue making the community and college a place where people become better “readers” as has been our tradition over the last several years. Raising the level of literacy may seem like a humble accomplishment, but we consider it invaluable and believe it will help shape the next generation of readers.