Today I am happy to bring y’all an interview with Rob Vollmar, the WLT Book Club’s sponsor. Since I’m not going to be in Norman next semester (more on that to come), I thought anyone interested in joining the club should hear about it from someone who is going to be there. So I asked Rob some questions about the importance of world literature and sharing it with others, and here’s what he said!
Brooke: Tell us about yourself, your work with world literature, and why you sponsor the WLT Book Club.
Rob: My name is Rob Vollmar and I am the book review editor for World Literature Today magazine. I sponsor the WLT Book Club because introducing students to the diversity and power of literature from around the globe is an important part of our unit’s mission. I also enjoy interacting with students and sharing ideas about the world we live in back and forth.
B: Why do you think reading world literature is important – both for students and people in general?
R: Literature is the mirror by which a culture can see itself in development. For the same reason, it is vital for students to be exposed to viewpoints and ideas well outside the American culture. Literature is a way to explore different cultures, locations and time periods without ever leaving the comfort of one’s home. The reader gains so much and, I like to think, develops an identity as a citizen of Earth rather than merely that of the country in which they happened to be born.
B: Why do you think people should join the WLT Book Club?
R: I feel confident in saying that the books we read in the WLT Book Club are quite unlike anything that students have the opportunity to explore elsewhere on campus. We read books by contemporary writers from all over the world, some of which actually come to the meetings during the Neustadt and Puterbaugh festivals to talk about their work. Being part of the WLT Book Club gives students access to people, writing and ideas with which few organizations can compete. Plus, our food game is on fleek.
B: What do you see for the WLT Book Club in the 2017-2018 academic year?
R: We’re going to be engaged in new member recruitment initiatives in the Fall and we hope to expand our meetings to include outreach to the community, perhaps reading to children at libraries or people in retirement homes as a way to share our love of reading with others. We also have a full Neustadt jury coming in the fall, which will feature some very exciting writers that club members will have the opportunity to meet. In Spring 2018, German novelist Jenny Erpenbeck will be on campus for the Puterbaugh festival and that will, again, provide students with the opportunity to meet an internationally recognized author of enduring literature!