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French National Media Examines Changing Lives Through Literature

Philippe Boulet-Gercourt, a French journalist, visited campus several weeks ago to take a first-hand look at the Changing Lives Through Literature program, created by UMass Dartmouth English Professor Robert Waxler as a strategy to transform the outlook of criminals.

Philippe Boulet-Gercourt, a French journalist, visited campus several weeks ago to take a first-hand look at the Changing Lives Through Literature program, created by UMass Dartmouth English Professor Robert Waxler as a strategy to transform the outlook of criminals.

The program, which requires individuals to read books as a part of the probation and parole requirements, has helped reduce recidivism rates among its participants.

"The discussion (about Of Mice and Men) is just as intense,'' Boulet-Gercourt wrote in the June 11 edition of Le Nouvel Observateur, one of the most influential news sources in France. "Bob Waxler is the one who initiates it, not an ounce of moralizing, but he is a skillful facilitator. In no time tongues become loose.What is the relation that ties George, the hero, and his buddy Lennie, the simple hulk? What do we think of the son of the owner, the bad guy in the story? The discussion lasts about two hours, dense, inspired, a thousand times more interesting than a conclave of Steinbeck experts."

Boulet-Gercourt concludes: "The surprising part is not that the idea has spread out, expanded into several cities throughout Massachusetts and into seven other states, which include Texas and as far as great-Britain. It is that it has not spread like wildfire into other places."

Boulet-Gercourt's full article can be found at:

http://bibliobs.nouvelobs.com/20090611/13167/grace-a-steinbeck-les-taulards-sevadent-suite

Since the article appeared, at least one major French television has contacted Dr. Waxler about visiting the campus to report on the program.
 

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  22-Jun-2009
Department:   Public Affairs

You can find this article at:
http://www.umassd.edu/communications/articles/showarticles.cfm?a_key=2624