'Iola Leroy' in South LA: Call for Reading Buddies

October 04, 2020

By , LitLab Director 


NAI Students in the classroom

A Call for Reading Buddy Commercials & Guest Short Lectures

We are seeking volunteers to create Reading Buddy "commercials" for sections of Iola Leroy. The commercials can take various forms: videos (filmed with your computer or phone), audio clips, or even text. The USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative's high school students will use these segments to investigate the novel further. Visit our joint website, LitLab, for examples of past commercials. 

What is it?

A commercial consists of a short text (300 words), audio recording, or video (three minutes) in which the speaker relays his or her synopsis of specific chapters within the novel. It is not meant to be a formal analysis, study guide, or straightforward summary, but rather a message from the speaker sharing personal highlights. Possible topics include:

  • What are the highlights for you in this book?
  • What are the magic quotes? Why?
  • What questions do you have for the students, or what are your musings? 
  • Why is this book or some aspect of it essential for the novel as a whole?
  • What to watch out for in the upcoming section?

Below is a preliminary schedule of this year's Reading Buddies program. If you are interested in participating, please respond to this message with your preferred group (or groups) of chapters you'd like to explore. We’ll be in touch to confirm your line up and deadline. At that time, we will send submission instructions and video recording guidelines. Please also be prepared to share a photo of yourself and a short bio by the confirmed deadline. 

Tentative Schedule

Commercial Deadline: October 10*
Student Reading Deadline: October 17 - LitLab Reading Marathon
1. Chapters I-IV (20 pages) Pre-Civil War 
2. Chapters V-VIII (15 pages) Iola Leroy
* As an alternative to pre-recording a segment, visit the Iola Leroy  Reading Marathon on October 17. Time TBD.

Commercial Deadline: October 13  
Student Reading Deadline: October 20
3. Chapters IX-XII (34 pages) Iola’s Past 
4. Chapters XIII-XV (20 pages) Conclusion of War

Commercial Deadline: October 20
Student Reading Deadline: October 27
5. Chapters XVI-XIX  (20 pages) After the War 1 (Decisions) 
6 . Chapters XX-XXIII (19 pages) After the War 2 (Family)

Commercial Deadline: October 27
Student Reading Deadline: November 3
7. Chapters XXIV-XXVII (22 pages) After the War 3 (North, Decisions) 
8. Chapters XXVIII-XXX (18 pages) After the War 4 (Community)
9. Chapters XXXI-XXXIII (13 pages) Conclusions

Other requested content, deadline around October 20
Videos or short guest talks are based on close readings of one or two passages that you would use to address any of these discussion topics for our class. Feel free also to propose a topic you’d like to speak about.

  • Slavery & Racism (mixed-race characters and interracial relations, the novel’s historical context (including commentary about the appendices of primary sources in Broadview edition of the novel (ed. Koritha Mitchell), contemporary connections to the current movement for Black lives)
  • Resilience & Survival (representation of kinship, family separations, and unifications, community formation)
    Emancipation & Reconstruction (defining hope, futurity, activism, and art)
  • The novel’s intertextuality (signifying, genres, poetry, circulation)


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