Six weeks in America: Institute introduces scholars to literature at its source

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    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — From Algeria to Ukraine, scholars who teach United States literature in their countries will flock to America for an intensive summer institute organized by the University of Louisville.

    The U.S. State Department funds the June 10-July 23 Institute on Contemporary American Literature, which is presented for the 15th year by UofL’s Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society in the College of Arts and Sciences.

    This year’s 18 scholars are from Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Greece, Indonesia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia and Ukraine.

    Their schedule includes seminars, tours and events in Louisville, as well as trips to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati and Bloomington, Ind. Highlights include meetings with several prominent writers whose works the scholars study during the institute.

    Louisville activities include visits to the Speed Art Museum and other cultural attractions, dramatic performances, bookstores and social events in addition to sessions with authors, professors and publishers.

    Topics and extensive readings will cover major figures from traditional and modern U.S. literature through works in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.

    The scholars’ schedule is designed to add context to their studies. For example, the group studies Native American literature and will visit Washington’s National Museum of the American Indian, just as the visit to Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center links to its study of literature about slavery.

    The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funds the institute as part of a broader initiative to help promote a better understanding of the United States abroad by improving the quality of teaching and curriculum used in academic institutions overseas.

    Institute scholars are among 40,000 people participating each year in the department’s exchange programs that seek to promote mutual understanding and respect between people of the United States and other countries. During the years UofL has been its host, the institute has brought more than $3 million in federal grant funds to the university.

    For more information, contact Tracy Heightchew at 502-852-8977 or check http://louisville.edu/cchs/SUSI; for general information on U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs, check http://exchanges.state.gov/

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    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a communications and marketing specialist for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she works in media relations and contributes to news about the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and Kent School of Social Work. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.