Classic Bildungsroman

Literary Excavations

Fiction Friday: Let’s Talk Stories

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Why You Should Read

The un-examined life is not worth living.” -Socrates

 

We all know the first stories were drawings on cave walls, followed by oral story telling, and the ancients chronicaling the lives and accomplishments of their gods and heroes. In these stories can be seen a desire to remember great events and understand the world around us. Stories of war and love and loss were passed down through generations–and can now be read in books and online by anyone with access. Myths and legends sprang up around the unexplainable and seemingly supernatural–and now we study them in classrooms all over the world. As people learned and nations grew, the stories evolved. We began to examine the world through all kinds of new genres of writing, and at multiple levels of society. We increasingly set aside unscientific explanations for the processes of nature and the universe, and turned to the novel for mythologizing. We now look to characters that we know to be fiction, but who teach us who we should and shouldn’t be all the same.

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Topical Tuesday: INLA Part II

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The Library During Times of Armed Conflict:

A look at Iraq’s National Library and Archives

2.The destruction of the Iraq National Library and Archives in 2003:

2a. Brief description of the political situation:

Once again, the state of the library was directly impacted by the political and social issues within Iraq. After the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the Bush administration regained earlier concerns over Saddam’s noncompliance with UN policies concerning weapons of mass destruction. In 2002, after Saddam once again failed to fully comply with searches performed by the UN, American and British forces declared an end to diplomacy. On March 17, 2003, U.S. President Bush ordered Saddam to step down from his office and leave Iraq within 48 hours or face war. He also stated that U.S. forces may step in to help establish a new government and stabilize the country. When Saddam refused to step down, U.S. and allied forces began their attack on March 20. Iraqi forces were quickly defeated, and the U.S. took control of Baghdad on April 9. More cities fell on April 10, 11, and 13, and President Bush declared an end to major fighting on May 1. (“Iraq War,” n.d.)

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Fiction Friday: Let’s Start with a Graphic Novel

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While reading Art Spiegleman’s graphic novel, Maus, it is important to remember that the work is essentially the interpretation of a memory, of a traumatic experience, during a particularly dark point in human history. The relationship between Art and his father, Vladek, constantly draws attention to this. Throughout the course of the graphic novel, Art acts as something of an historian, seeking to reconcile History with personal experience. This experience defines Vladek so intensely that both the story and the man seem one-in-the same—a piece of history that must be interpreted to be intelligible. It is through such interpretation and (by extension) artistic expression, that Vladek’s story is able to join the larger, historical Holocaust narrative without losing its singularity.

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Topical Tuesday: A Rather Serious Beginning

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The Library During Times of Armed Conflict:

A look at Iraq’s National Library and Archives

The nineteenth century brought the greatest growth of libraries and other cultural institutions in human history. The twentieth century brought a trend of destruction of these institutions as acts of war (Moustafa, 2014, p. 16). This trend appears to continue as we enter the twenty-first century. The goal of this post series is to gain a clearer understanding of the role of libraries during times of war, and political and social upheaval. The posts will focus specifically on the Iraq National Library and Archives (INLA) in three periods: before 2003, during the U.S. occupation and Iraqi liberation of 2003, and the events following 2003. The posts will discuss the library’s role under the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein, the cultural implications of the destruction of the library during 2003, and efforts to rebuild by Saad Eskander and his staff. Finally, they will explore international law regarding the destruction of cultural institutions and property.

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