Reading Chicago Reading

Who reads? What do they read? How do they read? These are questions essential to the study of literacy, yet fine-grained answers to these questions are difficult to come by, as noted in To Read or Not To Read, a 2007 report from the NEA. Our project Reading Chicago Reading represents a rare opportunity to seek empirical answers to these questions within a large metropolitan area, with a wide variety of texts, and across a great diversity of readers. Learn more...

Mavis! Film Screening at DePaul University

Mihaela reports: The second event in a tentative three-part series of One Book One Chicago programming at DePaul took place on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, on the Lincoln Park campus and paired a screening of Jessica Edward’s film Mavis! with a special appearance by Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune music critic and author of I’ll Take You There.

The event was hosted by the English Department, and Professor Francesca Royster moderated the Q&A session at the end of the evening. The discussion covered many subjects as Kot touched on a variety of topics: the difficulty of describing music in layman’s terms; the challenges in finding a publisher; secrets of the interview process; and why ultimately Mavis chose him to write her story.

It came down to trust, Kot says about Mavis’s choice of him as chronicler. During roughly seventy hours of interviews held with the Staples family, Kot’s professional interest in the subject turned to genuine affection, and his chance to reveal how the legendary singer’s warmth and down-to-earth persona can light up a room. “I’m just everyday people,” she says in the film with heartwarming candor while talking about how much she likes to come home to Chicago after a tour to take care of bills and laundry. There’s no dirt on Mavis, Kot says. What you see is what you get. Hers is the “quintessential American story,” Kot said. As it turns out, the evening ended up being not only about a quintessential American story, but also a very “Chicago” story, as it brought together under the One Book umbrella the soul of the music scene with the journalistic enterprise of someone like Kot and the literary studies at DePaul to make this event a sociocultural blend representative of the community we all share.