One of my favorite books in some ways is Robert Coles' The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination. While he definitely did not graduate from Shimer, I do think that much of what he speaks of in the book is Shimerian in some sense -- the power of stories to both make lives, to provide healing, and to enable us to reflect on ethics and morality. And, of course, his subtitle tells it all: teaching and moral imagination go together.
A psychiatrist by training, Coles is a professor emeritus at Harvard. His body of work is enormous, including more books that I could list here without feeling foolish. Perhaps best known for his work on children, the book I am looking at sitting on my desk is from 1989. I read it then, and it continues to resonate. What struck me on a recent re-reading as particularly relevant to today's Shimer is really the reflection on teaching -- and the ways that one balances close reading of texts, and understanding the reader as someone embodied, emotional, and more. The meeting of the story of the text with the story of the reader is, at heart, what Coles is describing. Ignoring either the reader (as emotional, psychological, social psychological, etc) OR the text leaves something crucial out. This is, in part, a critical aspect of understanding the diversity of a classroom's response to a reading, whether DuBois or Aristotle, Woolf or Wollstonecraft. The ways in which what we read become "persisting voices" is, perhaps, what the long term impact of higher education -- and all reading -- can be, at its best.Here and there, as well, the intersection of science and literature pops up; it is a critical subtext to the book -- and to all that Shimer does.
So: Robert Coles' The Call of Stories -- worth a read!