Great World Texts in Wisconsin, a program for the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, recently announced the 2018-19 text selection. Participating teachers and students from around the state will read Antiguan-American writer Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place.
This contemporary classic is a work of nonfiction, focusing on the impact of colonization and tourism on Kincaid’s home island of Antigua. Kincaid will join teachers and students as the keynote speaker for the culminating event on Monday, April 8, 2019.
Each year, Great World Texts in Wisconsin facilitates the opportunity for high school students to read a demanding classic text with support from teachers. The goal is for students to experience college-level work and establish an understanding of world cultures.
Aaron Fai, the public humanities program manager at the Center for the Humanities, states that whether or not students pursue higher education, “it’s important to us to build these opportunities that encourage students to become good community members and public thinkers.”
The program connects UW-Madison scholars with teachers and students across the state. They provide books and curriculum resources created by The College of Letters & Science, librarians, and scholars on campus. Participating teachers receive support through two workshops over the course of the school year before the student symposium in the spring. This culminating event, held in Madison, provides opportunities for students to present their projects and learn from the keynote speaker.
This year, the tradition of challenging multiple disciplines to participate in Great World Texts was met with success. Students read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, an environmental science book, which made plain the dangers of DDT and launched an environmental movement. According to Fai, students rose to the challenge of proving that “the humanities and the sciences are partners in creating an informed public.”
Students read Carson’s book and examined environmental issues in our state through multiple lenses. At the symposium last month, students presented projects ranging from a line of organic skincare products to digital representations of effects of DDT on the environment.
“We encourage students to see that they are not alone in their intellectual activity,” Fai says. Each year, Great World Texts provides students the opportunity to see how people their own age connect to a classic text that still applies to their lives today.
Organizers of Great World Texts in Wisconsin invite teachers from all disciplines to apply to participate in next year’s program. Find the application here: http://humanities.wisc.edu/great-world-texts/a-small-place. Applications are due by June 15.