Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize in Literature! Lit nerds and Canadians of TEDx celebrate!

This post goes to all the English lit majors out there (yeah, we know you’re on Tumblr) who get asked almost every day, “A degree in English? What will you do with that??” Well, once a year, you have a great card in your hand — the Nobel Prize in Literaturewhich if you are Alice Munro, you just won. Congrats to you!

A bit of a primer on Alice Munro if you are unfamiliar:

  • She is the first Canadian woman to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the 13th woman to have ever won the award since its start in 1901.

  • She has written 14 short story collections throughout her career. That’s a lot of stories. She published her first book at 36.

  • Alice’s father raised foxes and minks when she was young. Minks totally look like a strange ferret-otter hybrid.

To honor Alice, who was called by the Nobel committee the "master of the contemporary short story," here’s 3 talks on words, stories, and creativity:

(Photos: Top, L-R:  shutterhacks, jim_and_kerry; Bottom, svenwek)

The travel playlist: Around the world in 5 TEDx Talks

image A gorgeous landscape in Afghanistan, documented by TEDx speaker James Willcox

As school starts, the weather turns cold, and long walks become harder to handle, pangs of wanderlust are sure to set in again. So to celebrate World Tourism Day, we thought we’d bring the great wide world to you. Here, we’ve hand picked five talks that take you all over the world — from Palestine to Poland — so you can travel vicariously through TEDx.

The road less traveled: Tony Wheeler at TEDxQueenstown
In the travel talk to end all travel talks, Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, waxes poetic about the adventure of travel — in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Libya, Myanmar, the Congo, Palestine, Zimbabwe and beyond — with gorgeous photos to boot.

A new look at an old country: Mark Power at TEDxKrakow
Sent to Poland to photograph the country in 2004, just before it joined the European Union, Mark Power found himself coming back again and again. This photographic tour de force at TEDxKrakow will show you the true complexity of this fascinating country. Warning: NSFW, some graphic images.

More than a thousand words — the power of images: Antonio Bolfo at TEDxEast
NYPD police officer and photographer Antonio Bolfo has seen a lot in his career. In this dynamic talk at TEDxEast, he shows how a well-crafted photo can tell a rich, inspiring story — with examples from the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the daily work of NYPD officers.

Off-road tours in Afghanistan: James Willcox at TEDxBathUniversity
James Wilcox operates a very untraditional tour company in Afghanistan and Somalia, giving tourists a chance to see the real places behind the headlines. In this talk at TEDxBathUniversity, he describes how he was inspired to start this off-road initiative after a chance meeting with a UN translator named Abdul.

Scenes from a Romanian village: Katy Fox at TEDxLuxembourgCity
Social anthropologist Katy Fox spent several months as a researcher in rural Romania. At TEDxLuxembourgCity, she shows what she learned — weaving stories of the people she met in the villages with stunning photos of village life.

(Photo from James Willcox’s talk at TEDxBathUniversity)

Get a brain workout with Mashable’s new playlist, which includes talks from TEDxFiDiWomen, TEDxToronto, and TEDxUW.

Structures that breathe, shake, and die: Philip Beesley at TEDxUW

Philip Beesley is an architect, a three-time TEDx speaker, and a leader in furthering the spellbinding, new concept of “living architecture.” In his talk at TEDxUW in Canada, "Building living architecture," he explains some of the processes behind his work creating "living" structures, which include using protocells to create "self-generating skins" for buildings, fitting cellphone vibrators to suspended "bladders" that shake and mimic the movements of the Earth’s floor, and employing microprocessors to enable materials to track human movement and quiver and contract in response.

Below, watch his entire talk, which provides more insight into the creation of these sculptural installations that respond to stimuli, interact with surroundings, grow, and die:

Above, images from two of his installations — the latest, Radiant Soil, which is part of the ALIVE / EN VIE exhibition at Espace EDF Fondation and will be on display until September 1, 2013, and Endothelium, which displayed at the UCLA Art|Sci Center + Lab 2008 Symposium.

(Photos: © PBAI and © PBAI - Radiant Soil - ALIVE/EN VIE, Espace EDF - Paris, France - 2013)