Today’s students do read—we know that they read a significant amount of email, text messages, web pages, and even magazines. What many do not do is read in a sustained way. Many do not come to college prepared to read long texts, nor do they come with the tools necessary to analyze and synthesize what they read. Nick Delbanco and Alan Cheuse have proven in their own teaching that when you improve students’ ability and interest in reading, you will help them improve their writing.
Bringing writers to students, Bringing students to writing.
Literature: Craft and Voice is an innovative new Introductory Literature program designed to engage students in the reading of Literature, all with a view to developing their reading, analytical, and written skills. Accompanied by, and integrated with, video interviews of dozens of living authors who are featured in the text, conducted by authors Nick Delbanco and Alan Cheuse specifically for use with their textbook, the book provides a living voice for the literature on the page and creates a link between the student and the authors of great works of literature. The first text of its kind, Literature: Craft and Voice offers a more enjoyable and effective reading experience through its fresh, inviting design and accompanying rich video program.
Nick Delbanco is the Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, where he formerly directed the prestigious Hopwood Awards Program in creative writing and where the Delbanco Prize was established in his honor for students who need financial assistance to attend the Hopwood Program (only 25 students are admitted each year). He is also a co-founder (together with the late John Gardner) of the Bennington Writing Workshops
As the Delbanco Prize implies, Nick is a beloved teacher and through his teaching has been in the thick of the modern literary scene. His students have praised his enormous frame of literary reference, his eagerness to devour a new work, and his ability to home in on its weaknesses. Richard Tillinghast, a poet and colleague at Michigan, said of Nick, “When you have someone with an eye and ear like Nick's, you can really learn a lot about what talents you have and how to use them.”
Describing Nick’s teaching style, the New York Times said, “Mr. Delbanco delights in horrifying his students by urging them to imitate rather than innovate. He tells them that imitation is the surest route to originality and warns against self-expression, self-discovery.” His students also talk of his sociability (he loves a good story, to tell it and to hear it), his honesty, and his devotion to his students. One student said, “He gave me confidence when I had no confidence. He's also very blunt and honest. He has no problem tossing your manuscript back at you and saying, 'This stinks.' He would dismantle me and then take me intohis office and tell me I could be a writer.”
Nick has won several awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two Writer’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of twenty-four books of fiction and non-fiction, a frequent contributor to Harper’s, and often seen in the New York Times. Some have called him a “writer’s writer” --to which he replies “it's hard to see it as an insult at all. The worst you could say is that it's a kind way of saying nobody buys your books.” He has written a previous McGraw-Hill text, The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction through Imitation. His most recent novel is The Count of Concord, a work of historical fiction that tells the tale of Count Rumford: inventor of the coffeepot, philosopher, and spy (among other things). The Chicago Sun says, “Novelist Nicholas Delbanco has done us a great service by rescuing Rumford from obscurity…In ‘The Count of Concord’ we see a veteran novelist working at the height of his powers.”
Alan Cheuse has been reviewing books on All Things Considered since the 1980s.
Formally trained as a literary scholar, Alan also writes fiction and novels and publishes short stories. He is the author of three novels, two collections of short fiction, and the memoir Fall out of Heaven. With Caroline Marshall, he has edited two volumes of short stories. Alan’s short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, and Another Chicago Magazine. His most recent collection of his short fiction was published in September 1998 and his essay collection, Listening to the Page, appeared in 2001.
Alan splits his time between the two coasts, spending nine months of the year in Washington, D.C., where he teaches writing at George Mason University. His summers are spent in Santa Cruz, Calif. teaching writing at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Cheuse earned his Ph.D. in comparative literature with a focus on Latin American literature from Rutgers University in 1974.
"The greatest challenge of this work [at NPR]," he says, "is to make each two-minute review as fresh and interesting as you can while trying to focus on the essence of the book itself."