| by Jon Glascoe

Newsletters, Fall 2019

Students at the podium during graduation for the Bread Loaf School of English

I’m a Middlebury grad, Class of 1978, and a retired filmmaker and screenwriter. My lifelong friend Jennifer Brown MA ’94 dragged me off my easy chair to see if I would help document the summer of 2019 at the School of English to help fuel Centennial-year engagement. I agreed, not knowing what to expect. What I got, with my little filming crew, “the Bandits,” was thrilling and humbling. I got to witness the passionate engagement of teachers working together to create a better country and a better world. It was a privilege to put a camera on these fierce, talented men and women.

The Bandits captured footage of intelligent discussions and creative experimentation across Bread Loaf. Dozens of students, faculty, and alumni opened their hearts and minds to us in interviews. And at Vermont’s Commencement, we filmed as Claudia Perlini MA ‘19, copresident of this year’s class, bookended her graduation remarks with the words “Dear Bread Loaf.” Her speech was a love letter to a place and people, and it expressed a sentiment that resonated across all the creation and conversation I had witnessed at Bread Loaf.

During this Centennial year, Bread Loaf will be sharing with you some of the moments and scenes we documented. Collected here are a few of the quotes that express just how dear Bread Loaf is to those who know it.
- Jon Glascoe

Students engage in dance as part of BLSE activities

 

“I see myself transform after every Bread Loaf summer because Bread Loaf is a place for experimenting. Here, immersed in a tight-knit community of peers, we are all doing the work of sharing and challenging ideas to ultimately shape us into more conscientious people.”
Ahdya Attea, current student

“Bread Loaf is a place where I don’t have to hide my nerdiness.”
Michelle Wnuk, current student

“My experience at Bread Loaf opened my mind as to why we still read and write. Throughout the summer I was repeatedly struck by the ability of words—and this may sound cliché—to change the way a community thinks and feels. I think this is what makes literature special. It has the ability to affect how we both think and feel—and I would dare say that no ideas ever materialize in the world unless people feel with some intensity that something needs to be done. At the same time, literary criticism often asks us to reflect upon and understand how literature attempts to make us think and feel differently. I was so often blown away this summer by the essays my students wrote, and how they promoted me to think and feel differently.”
Dennis Britton, Vermont faculty member

“Learning that my words mattered at Bread Loaf inspired me to make them live outside myself. I have learned that my words are an opportunity for connection—not just expression. That has given me the confidence to inspire positive action and take initiative partnering with my community to collaborate for change.”
Derek Burtch MA ’19 

Students lean against the railing, reading books

“Bread Loafers believe in literature as a democratizing force. We Bread Loafers have an incredible gift of doing all we can to include as many voices in the conversation as possible so that our students can see themselves—and others—in the texts they read. By including voices in the curriculum that reflect the tapestry of lived experiences that have defined this nation and this world, we acknowledge those voices. We hear those voices. We know those voices. We value those voices. This symphony not only defines the world as we know it, but it also signals the world as we wish it to be.”
Denny Gonzalez, current student 

“If you love teaching, Bread Loaf is a paradise. The classes are electric. But teaching teachers is a little terrifying.”
Lucy Maddox, former BLSE faculty member and on-site director, Alaska and New Mexico

“I try to teach empathy to my students. That’s why I teach books that are hard to read. I don’t mean books with difficult language, but books that really show the struggle we face as people. If we can understand that characters make poor choices as a reaction to their world or their own trauma, then maybe we can have a better sense of empathy and a deeper understanding of why actual people make the choices they do. I feel blessed to have been able to spend five summers digging into some tough texts like this at Bread Loaf and practicing having tough conversations before I lead students in having them.” 
Adam King MA ’19

“Education in the liberal arts offers a stabilizing resource in times of chaos. Not only can it broaden our frame of reference through exposure to a wide array of narratives, but it can also foster the discerning and inclusive conversations that promote authentic community. Summers of reading, reflection, discussion, and writing at Bread Loaf have helped so many of us sustain a joyful and productive approach in the larger arc of our teaching careers.”
John Elder, longtime BLSE faculty member