3 days / 70+ speakers
80+ seminars, workshops, and panels
National Classical Education Symposium

Phoenix Convention Center
February 22-24, 2023
Cana Academy

Jeannette M. DeCelles-Zwerneman

Jeannette is Director of Instruction and one of our Master Teachers, specializing in teaching writing and leading seminars on imaginative literature and philosophy.

For 41 years, she has taught and consulted in schools with an emphasis on classic humanities. In 1981 she co-founded Trinity School at Greenlawn in South Bend, Indiana, where she taught until 1997. From 1999 to 2016 she taught at Trinity School’s campus in Virginia. She served as Dean of Humanities for the national group of Trinity Schools and as a master teacher for all three campuses of the organization. As part of The Academy Project LLC, she co-authored the curricula and helped train faculties for Thomas MacLaren School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Trinity Academy in Portland, Oregon. Twice she received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, one for the study of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, another for the study of Dante’s Divina Commedia. Education: B.A., M.A., University of Notre Dame.


Asking Better Questions of Fiction

“The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.” —Flannery O’Connor

Teaching students to read fiction with sensitivity and skill is teaching them how to read the world. It introduces them to imaginative worlds beyond their near-horizons and beyond themselves. It matures them by habituating them to be moved by the struggles of the characters who inhabit those worlds. And, it reawakens their senses and minds to the world that has been given. Reading from a rich body of literature imparts to the students a shared experience along with a shared vocabulary and offers them an emotional and aesthetic education to the many ways and possibilities of the human heart. Unfortunately, there are prevalent practices that distract students from the heart of the experience of reading literature: for example, degrading fiction by psychologizing the authors and their characters; over-contextualizing the works in history; examining the characters under a moralizing lens; subjecting fiction to extraneous philosophical purposes; and, reducing fiction to its literary devices. To counter these habits and to return to the true purposes of reading fiction, we must teach fiction from the inside out.

In this workshop, we will develop the skill of asking good questions for rich discussions on classic works of imaginative literature, from Homer to Dostoevsky. Participants will examine a set of questions commonly asked by teachers. Each of the questions is deficient in one or more ways. Together, we will identify those deficiencies and offer better questions. The goal is to devise improved questions that free our students to experience, see, know, and feel what great literature offers them.

Every participant will receive a complimentary copy of Cana Academy’s second and revised edition of Teaching Fiction From the Inside Out.