Shared Inquiry | Donald Whitfield - Rancho La Puerta
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Shared Inquiry | Donald Whitfield

Week of August 24, 2019

Getting the Most Out of Your Book Group Discussions: A Stroll with George Orwell.

All too often, book group discussions grow stale when they drift into unfocused talk that skims the surface of what an author has to say, missing the experience of the rich levels of meaning that outstanding literature has to offer us. In four sessions during the week, we will use the writings of George Orwell (author of 1984) to acquire tools and techniques to make your discussions more rewarding, intellectually stimulating, and fun.  Copies of the brief readings for each session will be made available to you. Early in the week, Donald Whitfield will give a talk on why Orwell has so much to say to us today and how he can teach us to sharpen our critical thinking concerning the use of language in both the private and public arenas. 

Who’s Afraid of Big Brother? A Stroll with George Orwell.

George Orwell, who died at the age of 47 in 1950, is most known for his novels 1984 and Animal Farm as well as his numerous essays. Throughout his writing career, he was intensely interested in the ways in which the use of language in the public arena – both deliberately and inadvertently – profoundly influences how we think about the world in which we find ourselves. Especially now, with the intensified interest in how news is shaped and how public officials make use of technically sophisticated means to communicate their messages, Orwell has much to say to us regarding how we can get our bearings and think critically about the language that shapes our lives.


Donald WhitfieldDonald Whitfield recently retired after 18 years as Vice President and Director of Community and National Programs at The Great Books Foundation in Chicago. Among other initiatives, he has directed a national reading and discussion program for veterans, Talking Service, and has worked with discussion groups for former prison inmates. Donald has been leading book discussion groups and training discussion leaders for over forty years and is a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe and Annapolis.