Round-Up: Lord of the Flies, Hurricane Harvey, and Alexander Hamilton

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From a proposed all-female film adaptation of Lord of the Flies to a virtual book club for students affected by Hurricane Harvey, here’s the latest in literary news:

Scott McGehee and David Siegel have proposed making a film adaptation of the 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, written by Nobel Prize–winner William Golding. But instead of a group of adolescent boys from an English boarding school who are stranded on an island after their plane crashes, the film will feature a group of girls. McGehee and Siegel, who co-directed The Deep End (2001) and What Maisie Knew (2013), reportedly made a deal with Warner Bros. to make the film. Often taught as a cautionary tale, the novel shows the boys trying to create their own society to survive on the island before devolving into chaos and violence. Since the announcement last week, the movie idea has received a lot of flak on social media. In a tweet, writer Roxane Gay said, “An all women remake of Lord of the Flies makes no sense because . . . the plot of that book wouldn’t happen with all women.” But Siegel said that using girls in the film “might help people see the story anew” because “it breaks away from some of the conventions, the ways we think of boys and aggression.” Other film adaptations of Lord of the Flies were made in 1963 and 1990.

As Hurricane Harvey continued to hit the Houston area, Kathryn Butler Mills, a second-grade teacher in Texas, created the Hurricane Harvey Book Club, a virtual book club via a Facebook group. Mills, a teacher at WoodCreek Elementary School in Katy, Texas, told Publishers Weekly that she was inspired after seeing photos of her students reading during the storm, so she created a Facebook group and asked friends, students, and families to record and post videos of themselves reading books to distract students from Harvey. Mills wrote online that the purpose of the group “is to support and encourage one another through storytelling,” as families face the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. On August 31, the book club had close to 45,000 members from across the United States. To help replace library books in Texas schools that were destroyed by the storm, the book club is collecting money by selling t-shirts online; as of September 1, $14,000 had been raised in the campaign, which continues for two more weeks.

The Library of Congress has digitized its collection of Alexander Hamilton’s papers, thanks in part to Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wildly popular musical about the founding father and first US Secretary of the Treasury. Julie Miller, curator of early American manuscripts at the Library of Congress, said library staff was motivated by the public’s increased interest in Hamilton to make the documents available to more people. Previously, documents, including Hamilton’s letters to his wife, were available only on microfilm at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Bill Kellum, who works for the library’s web division, said: “When you take the papers or the archives of a person and put them online, you get to see all of the things that are not famous . . . it really kind of humanizes a person.” Now, some twelve-thousand documents from the Hamilton collection are accessible via the Library of Congress’s website.