The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
In this course, we meet an unlikely pair of friends: child reader-in-progress Liesel, and her lifelong companion (and the book’s narrator), Death. Dealing with the both the destructive and the healing powers of storytelling, The Book Thief asks: How does literature tell histories, and whose histories does it tell? What is the connection between reading and identity? Throughout this course, we will examine the significance of literacy as one small event against huge world events, perform close-readings of the novel, and reflect on our own evolving relationships to the written word.
“With little prompting, this group of two-dozen grown men reflected on their own feelings toward the twelve-year-old protagonist. They take her story seriously, empathizing with her attempts at literacy and with the way reading fills her life. I taught them my lay understanding of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and we had to pause class so they could scribble down their notes. I tell them over and over again to read slowly. They seem to feel validated that I do not want them to gobble up the words but to dwell on them, with the one resource they have in abundance—time.”