CHICAGO: The Great Books Foundation has begun a grassroots campaign
to update its image and broaden its audience. Its first efforts are
centering on the Latino market.
The foundation, formed in 1947 to promote classic works of literature,
runs discussion groups on various books, publishes literary anthologies,
and trains teachers on reading techniques.
But in recent years, it's been seen as ignoring ethnic groups, focusing
only on a core group of European writers. So it is starting the National
Latino Conversation, a series of discussions about works by noted Latino
authors, in Houston, New York, Chicago, and Seattle. It also plans to
publish an anthology of Latino literature, and has published an
anthology of Jewish writers.
The foundation is also working with community-based groups across the US
to focus on other ethnic literature, and to discover what types of
writers would interest various markets.
A magazine has launched, Common Review, featuring articles on
African-American writers and others. The magazine's website sums up the
new philosophy of the foundation: "Firmly committed to reading and
discussing books that have stood the test of time, we also recognize
that the task of intellectual and cultural engagement cannot stop with
yesterday's news - or even yesterday's classics. Ideas don't stand
still, nor will we."
The foundation is handling its new image campaign in-house with help
from an individual PR exec, said president Peter Temes.