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Upcoming Summer Seminars

Common Ground 2010

JUNE 17, 21 -- 24, JUNE 28 -- JULY 2

Teachers who submit a reservation by May 31st will be offered a place in one of this summer's Common Ground seminars. After May 31st, participants will be added on a first-come, first-served basis until each seminar is filled. Reservation forms may be e-mailed to

"Come Along": Voyages and Journeys, Real and Imagined
William Monroe

Over hill, over dale, through bush, through briar, down a muddy river and overseas—across countries, literature takes us everywhere. This summer we go on the road (in our car, boat, or boots) to discover new people and places, stopping at some of our favorite literary haunts along the way. In our travels we will participate in the rituals that set cultures apart while listening to the stories that bring us together.

  • Yann Martel, Life of Pi
  • Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Joel Chandler Harris, The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus
  • Patricia Craig, ed., The Oxford Book of Travel Stories
  • Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima
  • Tiphanie Yanique, How to Escape From a Leper Colony
  • Louise Glück, Averno 

Reading Math
Elizabeth Gregory

Taking Common Ground's focus on multiculturalism in a new direction, this seminar will explore what C.P. Snow called the dynamic of "Two Cultures" in the contemporary educational system. We will be looking from a variety of perspectives at the culture of math as it is explored within the culture of humanities, with a few detours into the related culture of science.

  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • William Gibson, Pattern Recognition
  • Janna Levin, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
  • Edwin Abbot, Flatland (+Sphereland)
  • Clifton Fadiman, ed., Fantasia Mathematica
  • Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams
  • Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel Escher Bach
  • Warren Motte, Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature
  • Malba Tahan, The Man Who Counted

In Search of Home
Merrilee Cunningham

This seminar takes the process of going from one country to another or one place to another because of banishment, diaspora, physical danger, powerful enemies, necessity, or some combination of these motives and analyzes the results of both the journey and the re-countrying process. In some cases, the characters return to their original homeland; in other cases, they do not. We will look at how the process of finding and making a safe home works, as well as both the individual and the family as they experience this re-countrying and the possibility of both individual and familial regeneration.

  • Shakespeare, As You Like It
  • Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved
  • Euripedes, Medea
  • Countee Cullen, Poems
  • Homer, The Odyssey
  • Thomas Rivera, Earth Will Not Devour Him
  • Sunjiata
  • James Welch, Fool's Crow
  • Dante, Inferno

"There's Comfort in the Strength of Love"
Romanus Muoneke

Love gives meaning and fulfillment to life. Thus, life lived in love is life lived fully, whereas life denied of love is hell. World literatures explore the theme of love in a variety of ways, trying to underscore how love determines quality of life. Wordsworth's line, that "there is comfort in the strength of love," and Shakespeare's statement, that "if music be the food of love, play on," reverberate in our ears as we delight in the works of great writers for the two weeks of the seminar.

  • Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
  • Wordsworth, Poems
  • Joseph Conrad, The Rover
  • Chinua Achebe, No Longer at Ease
  • Racine, Phaedra
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around Your Neck