Classic literature series goes caroling

By Steve Graham

Rekindle the Classics still taking book groups to the next level

By Steve Graham

You’ve probably seen the Muppet version or the Bill Murray movie “Scrooged,” or countless theatrical adaptations.

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But when was the last time you actually read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, perhaps the second most famous Christmas story of all time?

It might be time to revisit the classic tale or rekindle it. CSU Assistant English Professor Lynn Shutters helps run the Rekindle the Classics book discussion series at Wolverine Farm, which continues this month with the Dickens novella. She is looking forward to this month’s selection but admits she hasn’t read it for about 25 years.

“This is a nice, cute Christmas story, but do I really think of this as the great Dickens book, and what does that even mean,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting myself out of some of those preconceived notions and looking at that novella with a fresh eye.”

Old Firehouse Books carries all featured books and offers a discount if you mention the Rekindle the Classics series.

Photo by Gabe Saldaña, communications and social media coordinator at Colorado State University English Department.
Photo by Gabe Saldaña, communications and social media coordinator at Colorado State University English Department.
Photo by Gabe Saldaña, communications and social media coordinator at Colorado State University English Department.
Photo by Gabe Saldaña, communications and social media coordinator at Colorado State University English Department.
Photo by Gabe Saldaña, communications and social media coordinator at Colorado State University English Department.
Photo by Gabe Saldaña, communications and social media coordinator at Colorado State University English Department.

 

Once a month, a professor or graduate student with a deep grounding in the classic text will give a 20-minute introduction, then open up a freewheeling discussion. Shutters said eight to 20 people typically turn out for the meetings, and the biggest crowd turned out for a story collection by horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft.

“We don’t want it to get huge,” she said. “Something we like is that its people sitting around the table in a convivial setting.”

CSU literature professor Ellen Brinks partnered with the Poudre River Public Library District to launch the series in January 2016. They chose Wolverine Farm for its relaxed community atmosphere.

“Someone might be having a cappuccino or a beer; it just feels more laidback,” Shutters said.

Each semester, she sends out a call to her fellow CSU literature staffers seeking volunteers and suggestions. The responses vary widely from works as old as “Beowulf” or as new as “Life of Pi.”

“We define classics fairly loosely,” Shutters said. “You can make a case for all kinds of things to be classics.”

After “A Christmas Carol” and the Christmas break, the series returns in January with African-American science fiction author Octavia Butler.

“Everyone appreciates the literature but also the camaraderie and exchange of ideas and opinions,” said Currie Meyer, Council Tree library manager and co-organizer of the Rekindle the Classics series, in a blog post about the series.

Shutters said she was excited to take over the series.

“I wanted to do something more community outreach-oriented or directed more outside the English department because as much as I love the English department, I think it’s also important for people of all stripes to get together and talk about lit,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

She said the meeting differs from her English classes on campus because, ironically, members of the general public might be better prepared.

“You can count on the fact that everyone has done the reading, usually,” Shutters joked, quickly adding that her students typically do the required reading as well. “… It is people who are interested in talking about lit who have been looking for a venue.”

What’s happening

Rekindle the Classics programs will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. monthly on Wednesdays at Wolverine Farm, 316 Willow St. The upcoming schedule includes:

Dec. 18 — “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

Jan. 22 — “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler

Feb. 19 — “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee

March 4 — “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey

April 8 — “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith

May 13 — “Mrs. Dalloway” Virginia Woolf