We don’t extend human rights to people we don’t see as fully human. So how do we develop empathy for those we view as alien or inhuman? One way is through literature, which takes us inside the lives and actions of others. By instilling empathy, and by giving voice to cries for justice, literature forms the foundation for human rights.
Professor Richard Middleton-Kaplan shares stories about human rights activists he has encountered throughout his academic career. What these activists endured was shocking, yet they found meaning and beauty in literature, and so can we.
In this talk, audiences will discuss literary works that illuminate how to respond to those around us who have suffered human rights violations, and those who have committed incomprehensible acts. These works can even help us to make sense of the wrongs that we ourselves have endured.
Richard Middleton-Kaplan (he/him) is the dean of arts and sciences at Walla Walla Community College. In 2011, Richard spent a sabbatical at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at University of York, helping to develop a course on literature and human rights. His publications include “Using Literature to Teach Peace” in Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies.
Middleton-Kaplan lives in Walla Walla.
- July 31, 2021
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- Upper Skagit Library
About Speakers Bureau Events
Speakers Bureau talks are free public presentations on history, politics, music, philosophy, and everything in between. Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau roster is made up of professors, artists, activists, historians, performers, journalists, and others—all chosen not only for their expertise, but their ability to inspire discussion with people of all ages and backgrounds. All talks are free and open to the public, and each lasts about an hour. They are hosted by a wide range of organizations throughout Washington State.