In Summer 2020, Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr and Dr Alexandra Paddock in Oxford University’s English Faculty launched a Ten-Minute Book Club to explore the utility of short-form texts and excerpts as an invitation to great conversations about literature. They created a series of DIY kits for book club discussion, where the ‘book’ is a ten-minute online snippet. Each text is accompanied by an introduction by an academic suggesting themes or contexts to think about, as well as ideas for further reading around the book and a free link to the full text.
The Ten-Minute Book Club has recently launched its second season, made possible thanks to a Minderoo-Oxford Challenge Fund in AI Governance large grant, and will be releasing a book a week for the next 10 weeks. The books come from a wide selection of genres, including essay collections, poetry and short stories, and are written in a variety of Englishes. The project features a mixture of classic, well-known literature and outstanding works that deserve more prominence, mostly from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The project is run by Dr Alexandra Paddock, Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr and Dr Erica Lombard.
Dr Alexandra Paddock said: “We set up the Ten-Minute Book Club to provide literature for escape, connection and excitement during lockdown. Whilst our brief, curated extracts might encourage readers to dive into the full book, we want to emphasize the worth of engaging with shorter reading.”
“These two new seasons of content are inspired by the great response we had from teachers and students of English literature in 2020. As well as tripling our online content we are going to be running book clubs with teachers to improve the classroom uses for the project resources, especially in preparation for Further Education in English.”
The first instalment of Season 2 of the book club focuses on two powerful poems by Jamaican-American writer, Claude McKay, who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance movement and also spent time writing in London and Paris. Other writers to feature this season include: Alice Dunbar Nelson, Amy Levy, George Meredith, Frances Watkins Harper, Sinclair Lewis, William Langland, Hannah Allen, Wilkie Collins, Hans Christian Andersen and Monique Roffey.
The Ten-Minute Book Club, along with the LitHits project which inspired it, will be featured at the next Library Late at the Bodliean’s Weston Library in Oxford on 21 October. You can also find an installation about the book club in the Weston Library’s ‘Space for Reading’ in the Blackwell Hall.
The resources in the Ten-Minute Book Club were created by Oxford's Great Writers Inspire, Writers Make Worlds and LitHits projects, and supported by the Faculty of English and the Humanities Division at Oxford University.
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