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Modern Literature: On Curating the Contemporary

We are a liberal arts school, but we embrace contemporary literature that leads our students to the good, the true, and the beautiful. Not all of it does, though. And, even those moderns that are positively formational often do so by leaning, in some way, on the older great authors of the older great books.  To fully appreciate the new, you must be familiar with the old.

Contrary to the notion that we are hiding our students from contemporary literature, we are, instead, curating a selection of books–old and new–that enriches their humanity. How do we pick our moderns? Why do we still favor the classics? Listen in to learn why from a man with over 30 years of experience teaching at The Heights.

Resources Mentioned in Podcast:

Old School, Tobias Wolff

ABC’s of Reading, Ezra Pound

The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

Cellist of Sarajevo, Steven Galloway

PeaceRichard Bausch

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Big Two-Hearted River, Ernest Hemingway

1970 Nobel Acceptance Speech, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Introduction to Athanasius’ On The Incarnation, C.S. Lewis

The Intellectual Life, A.G. Sertillanges

Deep Work, Cal Newport

What Was Before, Martin Mosebach

About the Guest

Michael Ortiz


Mike Ortiz teaches twelfth grade AP English. He is a recipient of three National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, including participation in the Independent Summer Scholar Program. He holds a B.A. in English from Saint Anselm College and an M.A. in English from Georgetown University. He began teaching at the School in 1985. His children’s novel Swan Town: The Secret Journal of Susanna Shakespeare (HarperCollins) was published in 2006. His latest book, Like the First Morning: The Morning Offering as a Daily Renewal (Ave Maria Press) was released in April 2015.

He and his wife, Kathleen, have two sons, David, ‘11 (UNC Chapel Hill, BA, University of Virginia, JD) and Daniel, ’14 (University of Chicago, AB, MSt, University of Oxford), and two daughters, Sarah (Notre Dame, BA,, M.Ed), and Caroline (Princeton, AB) who are graduates of Oakcrest School in Virginia.

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