Episode #1405

Emily Dickinson & The Outsiders

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Friday, February 01, 2013

The cast of Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders The cast of Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders (1983 Warner Bros.)

This week in Studio 360, the class struggle comes home. In The Outsiders, tough kids from the wrong side of the tracks go toe to toe with entitled jerks wearing Madras shirts. A railroad worker martyrs himself to save his job in “The Ballad of John Henry.” We’ll hear about Emily Dickinson’s death obsession, and one listener’s ambitious bid to write a short story every month of 2013. (No literary martyrdom, please.)

American Icons: The Outsiders

Susan Eloise Hinton was a teenager when she wrote The Outsiders, the story of rival gangs in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She used the pen name “S.E.” so readers wouldn’t know she was a girl, and bought a Camaro with the earnings. “Some of [the novel’s] faults, like its over-the-top emotions and ...

Slideshow: How The Outsiders became a movie

Comments [6]

American Icons: Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Emily Dickinson is one of those writers whose life is as famous as her writing: after she died, having spent much of her life writing at home, her sister found nearly two thousand poems in her bureau. "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," Dickinson’s fantasy of getting picked up by the grim reaper ...

Comments [3]

American Icons: John Henry

In the ballad, told countless times over more than a century, the railroad worker John Henry wins a race against a new steam-powered drill, but the victory is Pyrrhic: he collapses, saying “Give me a cool drink of water before I die.” “Did he win? Did he lose?,” wonders novelist Colson Whitehead ...

Comments [2]

New Year's Resolutions: 12 Short Stories

Throughout 2013, we’re going to check up on four listeners who made creative resolutions for the New Year and were brave enough to go public with them. Linda Brewer of Tucson wants to tell the stories of people’s lives in the American West, but her literary ambitions have been sidelined by ...

Read Linda's story for January: "It's All Good"

Comments [4]

Comments [3]


I am an English Literature teacher in an urban school district and I read The Outsiders with my eighth graders every year. As your piece mentioned, SE Hinton introduced powerful racial themes through her text while similarly creating a story that teenagers actually enjoy reading. My students - who are generally and ambivalent and disinterested in school - become visibly excited upon entering Ponyboy's world through Hinton's text. My students relate wholly to the book's themes and particularly enjoying discovering that people who do bad things, i.e. Dallas Winston,, can still be good people at heart.

Feb. 03 2013 03:43 PM
Carol A. from NYC

Great story about "The Outsiders." I first read it as a library school student in a course on Young Adult Literature at the, now defunct, Columbia University School of Library Service, in 1974. Not only was YA literature taught as a subject, but the New York Public Library had a Young Adult section for many years before the book was written or the film made. I used NYPL's YA sections as a Junior High School and High School student in the 1950's. The Nathan Strauss Young Adult Room at NYPL's Donnell Library on West 53rd Street (Closed as of August 2008)- gone to real estate needs and interests) offered programs with young adult authors and the YA Division annually published Books for the Teen Age. ("For 80 years, New York Public Library staff shared the best titles for teens in an annual list called Books for the Teen Age", http://www.nypl.org/voices/blogs/blog-channels/sta). That YA room is now called Teen Central at the Grand Central Library). Just thought you and your listeners should know there was YA author awareness and authors before S.E. Hinton.

Feb. 03 2013 12:26 PM
Patrick T. Collins from Chatham NJ

I grew up as a middle class kid in New Jersey, and read "The Outsiders" when I was in 7th grade, a few years after its publication. I have been an avid reader and lover of literature all my life, and can honestly say that the impression the book made upon me has ranked with that of Melville, Roth, Stegner and that of my other favorite writers. Importantly, however, it was the earliest book I read which stayed with me for a lifetime. Several years ago, when my daughter brought a copy home after having had it assigned as reading for school, I picked it up and without cracking the spine, spontaneously recited for her the first line of the book, as if it was "Call me Ishmael," without having looked at it for over 30 years. That must mean something.

Feb. 03 2013 11:40 AM

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