I had the opportunity to speak with seven high school students yesterday who are participating in the History Youth Employment Program with CT Landmarks, an organization that manages several historical properties around Connecticut. The students are spending their summer learning about and sharing local history while exploring a variety of careers in the humanities.
Program leader Laura McCarthy asked if I would demo Placing Literature for the students and show them how they can use geo-based literary information to complete future school work. After a rough start–we initially didn’t have passwords for the public computers we were using at the Hartford Public Library–we were able to map a novel published by the Connecticut Humanities Council called The Great Connecticut Caper. Taking place in historic sites around the state, each of the novel’s 12 chapters are written by different local authors. You can find the novel here.
The students mapped the story as it evolved through various Connecticut landmarks including Gillette Castle, Harkness State Park and Sleeping Giant State Park among others. We then discussed the locations and how they related to the plot and characters’ development.
It was a great opportunity to promote local literature in Connecticut and show how Placing Literature can be used as a learning tool.
Placing Literature co-founder Andrew Bardin Williams leads Get Lit in New Haven.
We had a wonderful start to our relationship with the New Haven Free Public Library last night with the first installment of the Get Lit in New Haven discussion series. A curious group gathered in the Ives Think Tank Center to discuss the role New Haven plays in Alice Mattison’s The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman, identifying several local sites that play prominently in the novel.
The New Haven Independent was there as well to document the discussion and ran a great article this morning:
Much of Tuesday’s discussion turned on how a sense of place can deepen the literature or vice versa. For example, one of the mapped locations is the bench in College Woods Park where Daisy, Mattison’s heroine, sits contemplating a major life decision. Williams said the novel is rich in symbolism and that bench sits at a bend in the Mill River, a riverine crossroads reflecting Daisy’s moment of having to choose between two directions.
The next discussion will be held July 29 at the library and will focus on Mattison’s novel and the cold case murder of Marie Valenti that is based on the real-life killing of Penny Serra in 1970s New Haven. Email the library’s Community Engagement Manager Ashley Sklar at asklar [at] nhfpl.org for more information.
Hope to see you there!
New Haven locations in The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman.
We’re proud to be sponsoring a local literature book club called Get Lit in New Haven with the New Haven Free Public Library. Our first book will be The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman by Alice Mattison. The book club kicks off July 15 at the library where we’ll discuss the locations around town that are featured in Alice’s book. Two weeks later we’ll lead a discussion about murder in New Haven–a prominent theme in the novel. And Alice herself will come read and discuss her book with us on August 12.
There are limited spots left, so make sure you sign up for Get Lit in New Haven today.
Not in the area? Feel free to contact me at info[at]placingliterature.com to discuss how to organize a local literature book club in your city.