by Catherine Newell, University of Miami & The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
Growing up in a very small town that once had the most churches per capita in the country, Catherine Newell was around many people who were believers. Moving away from her hometown, she encountered a more religiously diverse environment, opening her mind to other possibilities. During her final term in college, she stumbled into a Rabbinic Judaism class. While the texts ignited her intellect, it was the class dialogue that moved her in a profound way. Now a professor of religious studies herself, Newell reflects on how the class offered an…
by Emily Coccia, the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
In middle school, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
inspired Emily Coccia to imagine the possibilities of the law to bring communities closer to justice. In college, it was the world of critical theory—such as feminist and queer theory—however, that helped her understand the other paths available to those wishing to enact social change.
by Alexander Knirim, Bayreuth University & The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
compelled Alexander Knirim, then a young historian, to re-think the role of imagination in history. Knirim recounts how his original misunderstanding, that we can reconstruct historic truth, was challenged by Anderson’s book and evolved into an appreciation of Anderson’s exegesis.
by Kristen Shedd, Fullerton College & The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
An early encounter with muckraking American novelist Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
exposed Kristen Shedd to issues surrounding human rights and animal rights in the early 20th century. For Shedd, the 1906 novel exposed the intersections of fiction, policy, history, and social justice.Sinclair’s story prompted her to seek answers to questions: How did this novel prompt policy change? How did it capture the struggles of historical actors and immigrants in the early 20th century? What other novels did Sinclair write? What institutional…