June 2013, Volume 17, Number 2

Cultural Spotlight

Big Read Project Encourages Literacy at MDC and Beyond

Author Tim O'Brien
Author Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried bookcover
For The Big Read, discusssion of this year’s book will be complemented by an innovative an oral history project with South Florida veterans – all MDC students, faculty or staff – who are sharing their stories through interviews with other MDC students in the College’s English Department.

The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College created an exciting new component for this year’s Big Read initiative, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture across all age groups.

Each spring, as part of the national effort, The Center introduces an impactful book to students and the local community, encouraging readership through a monthlong series of discussions, public readings and other events that explore the book’s themes. This year’s selection, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, is a novel tying together the diverse life stories of the members of a young platoon in the Vietnam War.

To complement this classic work of American literature once nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, The Center organized an oral history project with South Florida veterans – all MDC students, faculty or staff – who shared their stories through interviews with other MDC students in the College’s English Department. Closely mirroring NPR’s StoryCorps, the audio recordings will be available on The Center’s website and on social media and will include interviews with veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Vietnam and the Korean War.

“Once a book is chosen for The Big Read, our goal is to create programming around the book to create visibility and get people talking about it and reading it,” said Program Manager Paola Fernández Rana. “This oral history project accomplished that and so much more, allowing us to pay tribute to the service of veterans in our local community and providing another almost subliminal educational component to the overall Big Read program.”

Melding literary and visual arts, the oral history component culminated in an exhibition of works by local artists who volunteered to interpret some of the veterans’ stories through various media. Author Tim O’Brien also delivered a keynote address and discussed his book.

To learn more about Big Read events, visit www.thecenteratmdc.org.

— AMS


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