Hope Amidst Hardship
“Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” Series at Oklahoma City University, Fall 2015
Novelist and poet James Baldwin observed, “you think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” Recognizing ourselves in others, even as we read of hardship, is a major reason we find reading enjoyable. Hardship comes in many varieties and the books in this series offer varied examples but present a common theme: there is hope along the way. Sometimes this hope comes from deep within ourselves. Sometimes it comes from others in unexpected ways. The books in this series represent a variety of genres: a memoir by the daughter of voluntarily homeless parents; a deeply engaging young adult book about bullying; a novel set in Oklahoma; another novel set in the South during the Civil Rights era; and a memoir written by a college student about his dying professor. All of these books are individually powerful New York Times bestsellers, but read together offer us the sense that through our common hardships we can find the commonality of hope and perseverance. Are you interested in exploring and discussing these five good reads? Do you want to rediscover the joys of experiencing our humanity through characters who make us connect with each other? If any or all of these questions interest you, an opportunity for exploration awaits. If you want to be a vital participant in this exploration, please join us for this “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion program. Books are available for those who want to converge with us actively and be present throughout the series so we can each maybe forge hope amidst hardship.
Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating by attending the sessions is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections by calling Harbour Winn at 208-5472, emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library, Room 211 or 207. (Note the offices are located in the five-story building southwest of Walker Center.) Information can also be found on the web site of the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature: www.okcu.edu/film-lit/
The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 15 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through November 10. Books, services, and other materials for this series of programs are provided by Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
READINGS AND DATES: Fall 2015
September 15, 2015 The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This memoir epitomizes our concept of the dysfunctional family in launching the series theme. Walls writes of her alcoholic, unemployed father whose genius combines with a quirky and dangerous zest for life, to build a glass castle. His constant wanderlust and dreamy ambition lead the family to embrace life fearlessly and to abandon whatever they have and drive to the next unknown stop. Dr. Tracy Floreani
September 29, 2015 Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Born with a facial deformity, Auggie, who has been homeschooled, now must enter public school for the first time. He must struggle with verbal and physical abuse from bullies. Can he be recognized as an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face? You will not be able to put down this book! Dr. Harbour Winn
October 13, 2015 Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Oklahoma-born Letts’ novel begins when a pregnant teenager is dumped by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart in a strange town. The book captures many of the seamier aspects of life in our state, but also highlights the willingness of its citizens to help strangers. The homeless teenager experiences pregnancy and childbirth, abandonment, poverty, and the devastation brought by a tornado. Dr. Regina Bennett
October 27, 2015 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in a South Carolina town in 1964, this story is about Lily, a fourteen-year-old who has always feared that she was the cause of her mother’s death. Raised by an uncaring father, the only love she finds is from the family’s African-American maid Rosaleen. In this problematic novel about race and female power, Lily must journey to discover what family means and to find love. Dr. Abigail Keegan
November 10, 2015 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Upon learning his much beloved professor Morrie Schwartz has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, Albom makes regular visits to his home where he interviews Morrie about his life and his thoughts about life and death. As the disease slowly takes control, Mitch hears profound lessons, lessons like in learning how to die, we learn how to live. Dr. Robin Meyers