About Great World Texts in Wisconsin

Launched in 2005, Great World Texts in Wisconsin connects high school teachers and students across the state with scholars at UW-Madison through the shared project of reading and discussing a classic piece of world literature.

Drawing from world literature throughout the ages, the program’s selection of texts reflects a capacious understanding of the idea
of the literary classic.” In previous years, we have collaborated with high schools on texts associated with midtwentieth
century Colombia, ancient Greece, and contemporary India.

The program provides schools with complimentary copies of the text and includes a colloquium during which participating teachers work with UW faculty members on interpreting and understanding the text, extensive supporting curriculum materials, and a stipend to participate in an Annual Student Conference during which students from all participating schools come together to share their creative responses to the text and hear from distinguished speakers, often including the text’s author or contemporary representative. Now in its nineteenth year, Great World Texts has reached thousands of students and teachers in dozens of school districts throughout the state of Wisconsin.

During the 2023-2024 Great World Texts in Wisconsin program, high school teachers and students throughout the state will read Valeria Luiselli’s novel Lost Children Archive, a fiercely imaginative follow-up to the American Book Award-winning Tell Me How It Ends. In Lost Children Archive, an artist couple set out with their two children on a road trip from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. As the family travels west, the bonds between them begin to fray: a fracture is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet.

Participating in Great World Texts in Wisconsin

This program is free for all interested high schools in Wisconsin. Teachers participating in Great World Texts will receive a Teaching Lost Children Archive in Wisconsin curricular guide and a classroom set of texts for their school’s permanent collection. The curriculum guide contains contextual and lecture materials, suggested readings, close reading and discussion activities, handouts, and suggestions for student projects. This teaching guide is designed to make the text accessible for a range of learners and grade levels and is customizable to meet the needs of a wide range of classrooms and students. Participating teachers will attend a virtual educator colloquium on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, featuring talks by campus experts, workshop activities and discussions, and cultural and curricular presentations.

Educators will bring their students to UW-Madison for a full-day conference on Monday, April 15, 2024, where students will present projects created in response to the novel, engage with other students from across the state, and meet author Valeria Luiselli in person. All participating educators receive a stipend to fund their school’s participation in Great World Texts. These funds are most often used to offset the costs of substitute teachers and travel to Madison for the student conference.

If you have questions, please contact Assistant Director, Public Humanities Programs, Danielle Weindling at greattexts@humanities.wisc.edu.

Great World Texts in Wisconsin is made possible by grants from the A.W. Mellon Foundation, the Anonymous Fund, the Evjue Foundation, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the UW-Madison College of Letters & Science and the Promega Corporation. In addition, the UW-Madison Libraries supports the purchase of hundreds of copies of each text for use in classrooms, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction lends valuable expertise to the organization of each year’s program.

Support Great World Texts

Your gift helps support high schools from all corners of Wisconsin engage critically and creatively in world literature while preparing students for the college experience and beyond. Funds go towards the purchase of copies of each year’s text—which live on as a part of each participating school’s permanent library—as well as paying for transportation, providing necessary meals during the conference, and other costs that allow students to equitably participate in the annual student conference each spring.

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Common Core State Standards

The materials provided by the Center for the Humanities are specifically designed to allow flexibility in designing and individualizing course, lesson and unit plans that align with Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Disciplinary Literacy, the standards adopted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The Great World Texts model is an illustrative example of how educators can cultivate creative and critical thinking with their students within the richness of the humanities while meeting the letter and spirit of Common Core State Standards.

In the summer of 2013, Great World Texts program staff teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to invite an excellent team of veteran Great World Texts educators to Madison for a two-day workgroup to help prepare exemplar Unit and Lesson Plan modules using Great World Texts materials. The drafts of these exemplar models are available upon request:

  • Great World Texts Unit Plan by Erika May, Southern Door High School
  • Great World Texts Lesson Plan by Denise Beasley, Osseo-Fairchild High School and Alex Branderhorst, Washington High School (Milwaukee)

The modules demonstrate the flexibility of the Great World Texts curriculum in allowing teachers to design and personalize their teaching to bring world literature alive in the classroom while meeting the goals of Common Core State Standards. Using our Guide for Educators and the supplementary materials provided through the Great World Texts program as a starting point, teachers in any discipline can adapt course, unit, and lesson plans that meet CCSS demands while giving them the freedom to individualize instruction to meet their own pedagogical aims. This flexibility allows teachers to introduce world literature to their courses, whether they have a week or a year to devote to the text.

In other words, participation in Great World Texts “lets teachers teach” world literature while meeting the rigorous demands of Common Core State Standards and ensuring student success on CCSS assessments.

Teachers and administrators should also know that one of the Center’s guiding criteria in selecting Great World Texts titles is through a process of identifying texts which are not commonly taught, but appear frequently on Advanced Placement exams. Every effort is made to ensure that the texts we select provide an ideal framework for close reading, interdisciplinary pedagogy, and rigorous discussion and analysis.

Students participating in Great World Texts can also earn credit toward the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate.