The World’s First Author

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“Her odes to Inanna mark the first time an author writes using the pronoun ‘I,’ and the first time writing is used to explore deep, private emotions.” This animated TED-Ed lesson by Soraya Field Fiorio explores the writings of Enheduanna, a high priestess in ancient Mesopotamia who is widely considered the world’s first author and wrote forty-two hymns and three epic poems by the time of her exile.

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The Master and Margarita

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“Written in Moscow during the 1930s, this surreal blend of political satire, historical fiction, and occult mysticism has earned a legacy as one of the twentieth century’s greatest novels—and one of its strangest.” This TED-Ed lesson by Alex Gendler, directed by Adriatic Animation, depicts the premise of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita and the circumstances surrounding its writing and eventual publication in the 1960s.

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Examining The Joy Luck Club

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“Tan speaks to anxieties that plague many immigrants, who often feel both alienated from their homeland and disconnected from their adopted country.” In this TED-Ed animated film, Sheila Marie Orfano breaks down the themes of Amy Tan’s first novel, The Joy Luck Club, and the lessons learned from the intergenerational relationships of the characters.

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For Estefani

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“Elephant on an orange line, underneath a yellow circle / meaning sun. / 6 green, vertical lines, with color all from the top / meaning flowers.” In this animated short film for the TED-Ed “There’s a Poem for That” series, Aracelis Girmay reads her poem “For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made Me a Card” from her collection Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007).

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To Make Use of Water

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“Back home we are plagued by a politeness / so dense even the doctors cannot call things / what they are…” Safia Elhillo narrates her poem “To Make Use of Water” from her collection, The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), for this animated TED-Ed film directed by Jérémie Balais and Jeffig Le Bars.

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The Allure of James Joyce’s Ulysses

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In this animated TED-Ed lesson, Sam Slote, an associate professor at Trinity College Dublin and the author of Joyce’s Nietzschean Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), explains what makes James Joyce’s Ulysses a literary masterpiece and why Joyce, himself, once said: “If Ulysses isn’t worth reading, then life isn’t worth living.”

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