Sequel to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”

If you thought George R. R. Martin took forever to publish a sequel, he has nothing on 88-year-old Harper Lee. 50 years after the first publication of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Lee recently announced that a sequel to the world-changing book would be published this summer.

According to The Washington Post, Lee’s sequel “Go Set a Watchman” was actually written before “To Kill a Mockingbird” over 50 years ago. “When she was just starting off, she wrote ‘Go Set a Watchman’ about a woman nicknamed Scout who returns home to Maycomb to visit her father, Atticus. After reading the manuscript, her editor asked her to rewrite the story from the point of view of Scout as a child.” The result being “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the 1930s story of Scout Finch and her father, Atticus Finch, who is a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man unjustly accused of rape. Even though a white woman wrote this novel, it is used in schools around the country to teach children about civil rights and equality. The sequel is meant to bring another view to the story and situation. Only 2 million copies will be published, so keep an eye out for another world changing novel.

Watch Reading Rockets’ Interviews With Great African American Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators


In honor of Black History Month, Reading Rockets interviewed celebrated African American children’s books authors and illustrators in order to diversify the reading in classrooms. Those among the interviewed include E.B. Lewis, Nikki Giovanni, Christopher Myers, and more. Additionally, Reading Rockets interviewed children’s literature historian Leonard Marcus, who spoke of the history of multicultural children’s books in the United States from the 1960′s onward.

Definitely check out Reading Rockets’ YouTube playlist featuring the interviews. They’re incredibly interesting, and I enjoyed them a lot. Also check out Reading Rockets’ black history page on their website. Enjoy!




Nancy Bunge and The Midwestern Novel

WRAC Professor Nancy Bunge has just published her 6th book titled The Midwestern Novel: Literary Populism from Huckleberry Finn to the Present.

“My book establishes the field of the Midwestern Novel…[It] also uses a new approach. Literary books usually cover a handful of authors and focus on a defined theme. This book covers thirty authors, 130 years and a number of themes. It involved a lot more primary research than the usual literary book. I read all the secondary material, but I used only what seemed crucial. Most literary books respond primarily to other criticism and I definitely didn’t do that partly because getting into all the literary debates around these books and authors in any detail would make the book incoherent,” said Nancy.

She also discussed her desire for the book to demonstrate that there is a way to go about defining Midwestern novels, arguing that these books have specific characteristics that set them apart as a genre and a field of study. She said, “People don’t realize that there have been more Nobel prize winners for literature from the Midwest than from any other region and that authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen, Louise Erdrich, Charles Baxter, Jim Harrison, Saul Bellow and Langston Hughes are all Midwesterners.”

Nancy’s research and fascination with Midwestern literature began in 1971. “My inspiration probably came from a dinner party in Baltimore where someone said all the interesting people in the country lived on the periphery of the United States. I erupted,” she said.

Nancy even continued on to teach Midwestern literature as a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Vienna. Yet, when she proposed the subject as a course at MSU, where the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature is held and where she currently teaches, Nancy was turned down because she couldn’t define the meaning as opposed to the reference of the term “Midwestern”. Nancy has been reading, thinking, writing and publishing about Midwestern literature on her own time, which has totaled to roughly 42 years. The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature will honor her with the MidAmerica Award in June for her contributions to the study of Midwestern literature..

“I definitely think the book accomplishes what I set out to do,” said Nancy. Hopefully, as a result of all her research and hard work, a definition can finally be applied to Midwestern Novel as a genre and a course instated at MSU!

For more about Nancy’s book, it is available at McFarland.

WRAC’s Maria Novotny Receives Gloria Anzaldua Graduate Rhetorician Travel Award!


Maria Novotny,  a doctoral student in the WRAC department here at Michigan State University, is one of three recipients of the Gloria Anzaldua Graduate Rhetorician Travel Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)! The three winners will receive $750 for travel costs to present their work at the CCCC Convention, as well as a one-year membership in CCCC/NCTE.

Gloria Anzaldua was a scholar who had a “profound impact on the studies of both rhetoric and queer theory,” and as such, the award is used to support scholars whose work participates in the making of meaning out of sexual and gender minority experiences, and the award in her name intends to support scholars with a similar mission. As CCCC’s website says of Anzaldua:

“In the legacy of her work as a writer, Anzaldúa reminds us that we have a duty to strike out oppression, build alliances, and fundamentally transform cultures. She underscores that we may achieve these goals through the act of writing.”

The award is quite the honor, not only because of whom the award is associated with, but also because those who were to be considered were to meet a myriad of credentials, including: “originality of research; critical engagement with and contribution to current scholarship in queer studies and rhetoric/composition; and potential for lasting projects.”

Congratulations, Maria, on all of your intelligent, hard, wonderful work. Good luck at the conference!