NEH Funds Summer Institute for High School Teachers on the Power of Storytelling and Friendship

Next summer, high school teachers will have the opportunity to explore the power of storytelling in influencing positive friendships among adolescents at a new institute, “Friendship and Identity in Literature, Film, and Adolescence.” The institute, which will take place July 10–22, 2022, at BU Wheelock, is funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant that was awarded to BU Wheelock associate professor emeritus Stephan Ellenwood and Dr. Karen Harris (’91, ’17).

“Stories in literature and film can help students to understand the nuances and complexities of their lives,” explains Ellenwood. “Teachers participating in the institute will enrich their teaching by learning how to draw from their own life stories and how to teach their own students to do the same.”

Twenty-five high school teachers will work with both visiting and in-house scholars, including poet Robert Pinsky, developmental psychologist Niobe Way, and BU Wheelock’s Bob Weintraub and Zach Rossetti. They will discuss questions like “How do our students’ evolving conceptions of intimacy and connection shape their literary reading, and vice versa?” and “How is social media changing our friendships and our ideas of friendship, intimacy, and connection, especially for adolescents?”

“High school students have a profound need for both a sense of connection and the engagement and intellectual rigor of storytelling, especially right now,” says Harris, the only independent scholar to be awarded the NEH grant. “This institute will offer teachers looking for new ways to take advantage of the power of storytelling in both literature and film to help students deepen inquiry into literature and their own relationships.”

Learn more about “Friendship and Identity in Literature, Film, and Adolescence” on their website.