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University of Iowa News Release


March 21, 2007

UI Press Releases Diehl's Memoir 'Dream Not Of Other Worlds' April 2

Huston Diehl's "Dream Not of Other Worlds: Teaching in a Segregated Elementary School, 1970," published by the University of Iowa Press, will be available from bookstores and on-line book retailers on Monday, April 2. The book may also be ordered directly from the UI Press.

Diehl will be featured on NPR’s "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon on
Saturday, March 24.

When Diehl, who is now on the English department faculty at the UI and a collegiate fellow of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, began teaching a fourth-grade class in a "Negro" elementary school in rural Louisa County, Va., the school system's white superintendent assured her that he didn't expect her to teach "those children" anything.

She soon discovered how these low expectations, widely shared by the white community, impeded her students' ability to learn. With its overcrowded classrooms, poorly trained teachers, empty bookshelves and meager supplies, her segregated school was vastly inferior to the county's white elementary schools, and the message it sent her students was clear: "Dream not of other worlds."

In her memoir Diehl reveals how, in the intimacy of the classroom, her students reached out to her, a young white northerner, and shared their fears, anxieties and personal beliefs. Repeatedly surprised and challenged by her students, Diehl questioned her long-standing middle-class assumptions and confronted her own prejudices. She reflects on what the students taught her about the hurt of bigotry and the humiliation of poverty as well as dignity, courage and resiliency.

Set in the waning days of the Jim Crow South, "Dream Not of Other Worlds" chronicles an important moment in American history. Diehl examines the history of black education in the South and narrates the dramatic struggle to integrate Virginia's public schools.

Meeting with some of her former students and colleagues and visiting the school where she once taught, she considers what has -- and has not -- changed after more than 30 years of integrated schooling.

Diehl has published a number of essays on pedagogy as well as many articles on Renaissance literature. She is the author of "An Index of Icons in English Emblem Books" and "Staging Reform, Reforming the Stage: Protestantism and Popular Theater in Early Modern England."

"Dream Not of Other Worlds" is available directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

"Dream Not of Other Worlds" is part of Sightline Books, the UI Press series of literary nonfiction edited by Carl Klaus and Patricia Hampl. Klaus explains, "Sightline Books is a series of works that embody the richly varied knowledge, artfully crafted prose, and compelling authorial presence that characterize the most engaging contemporary nonfiction."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073; cell: 310-430-1013;