Mount St. Joseph University

Liberal Arts Faculty Love to Read (Of Course)

English, Liberal Arts, School of Arts & Humanities, Department of English & Modern Languages, Department of Liberal Arts

By: Elizabeth Bookser Barkley

File Under: liberal arts, read across america

Dr. Michael Sontag (left) and Dr. Elizabeth Bookser Barkley (right) both participated in Read Across America, a celebration that encourages young people to read.

One read a children’s book she had written and illustrated. One read the end of a science fiction classic, and another, a series of favorite poems. The dean read a passage from a medieval philosopher/theologian.

In conjunction with the School of Education, members of the Liberal Arts Department within the School of Arts and Humanities sponsored the Mount’s annual Read Across America event March 1. The day is celebrated nationwide to motivate young people to read on or near the birthday of Dr. Seuss (March 2).

Knuffle Bunny For was the book shared by Elizabeth Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English. In response to her toddler’s question about what happens in the next book in the Knuffle Bunny series, Mason was inspired to write her own sequel, the fourth. She credits her son with the unusual title.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was the choice of Elizabeth Bookser Barkley, Ph.D. Professor of English. The book had led to impressive conversation in her Foundations of the Liberal Arts class about the values books hold for individuals and society. The book also reinforced a theme of the class: that books can be complicated, and sometimes disturbing to the status quo.

Drew Shannon, Associate Professor of English, couldn’t decide on one work, so he read some of his favorite poems, including Stevie Smith’s “Not Waving But Drowning,” Philip Larkin’s “Annus Mirabilis,” Margaret Atwood’s “You Take My Hand,” and Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love.”

As a Virginia Woolf scholar, Shannon also shared a short passage from Woolf’s “How Should One Read a Book?” about how one should read according to one’s own taste, and not listen to the “experts.”

The reading by Michael Sontag, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, flowed from his own habit of engaging closely with a difficult text. In reading a disputation from The Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas, Sontag, who holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy, walked his listeners carefully through the logic, claims and counter claims in the passage, pushing listeners to critically examine the argument in its parts and as a whole.

Quentin Lunsford, a junior Liberal Arts major, also participated, reading two of his favorite poems: “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson and “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

Bottom photo: Quentin Lunsford reading two of his favorite poems.