1. Books

What's William Felice reading?


William Felice

In his newest book, The Ethics of Interdependence: Global Human Rights and Duties, Felice takes on the question, "Why should we be concerned about what's going on abroad when there's suffering here at home?" His answer involves four case studies, including gay rights in Africa, women's rights in Saudi Arabia, environmental rights in China and mass incarceration in the United States. "There are many examples of this type of ethical interdependence and how actions in one country negatively impact human rights in another country,'' he explained. Felice, 66, is a professor of international relations and global affairs at Eckerd College. He stressed that as an educator, his aim is to "not create a political person'' but instead to teach students how to "take on responsibility themselves and to be an informed citizen in our democracy."

On Sept. 22, Felice and Tampa Bay Times book editor Colette Bancroft will discuss The Ethics of Interdependence at Eckerd College. Felice will be a featured author at the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12.

What's on your nightstand?

The first is East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands. It's a biography of two remarkable individuals, Raphael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht. Lemkin created the concept of genocide and Lauterpacht created the concept of crimes against humanity. It traces how their lives became intertwined, ending at the tribunal against Nazi leadership. It was really good.

And this was personal reading, not for class?

Yes. And I also have Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. It's a story of a young slave that makes a desperate bid for freedom. I also have Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers. This is lighter reading. I'm a Dave Eggers groupie. He's a great writer. It's a dark comedy.

What was the first book of Eggers' you read?

What Is the What. It is about the Lost Boys of Sudan. He writes about a boy named Valentino (Achak Deng) who immigrates to the U.S. Eggers traces the journey.

Did anything he do influence your teaching?

Definitely. I try to bring in both novels and biographies that can tell a story about a part of the world. Just reading facts is not enough. One of the key things for teaching international relations is to help students empathize, to put themselves in the shoes of someone else. Dave Eggers did that with What Is the What, in helping us understand the genocide at a deeper level from just facts and figures. I also assign Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish writer. His book Snow can help students empathize.

Any other books for students that help them become more aware of or sensitive to world issues?

I recommend The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It's a powerful examination of Vietnam. It is about this man who is a communist agent who ends up in California. His narrative really helps students understand the complexity of Vietnam.

Contact Piper Castillo at Follow @Florida_PBJC.