Why have a Common Read initiative?
This program is one way for Queens to engage our campus community in a shared intellectual experience, inspiring curiosity and conversation. As places of learning, universities are uniquely positioned to provide everyone-faculty, students, and staff-with an opportunity to engage with meaningful texts of our time and provide a space for intellectual discourse. A Common Read can provide a shared language and shared experiences across classes, departments, offices, and other "pockets" of how we live and work on campus.
What's going on this year (2015-16)
There are many ways to be involved in 2015-16 Common Read initiative:
- Reading Groups: Faculty, staff, and students are invited to form reading groups
- Class Embedded Activities: Faculty are invited to imagine how The Orphan Master's Son might fit into their courses in fall or spring term. This could range anywhere from assigning the novel as a course text to designing a class activity that examines one of its central topics.
- University-Wide Experiences:
- Reading for Students: November 10, 2015 4 p.m.
- Public Reading: November 10, 2015 at 7 p.m.; free and open to the public
This year's section: Claudia Rankine's Citizen (2014)
The Queens faculty has selected Citizen by Claudia Rankine for the 2015-2016 Common Read program. A critically-acclaimed book, Citizen was a finalist for the National Book Award, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and an NAACP Image Award, and was selected an NRP Best Book of 2014. The New York Times has applauded the deftness of Rankine's work: "The challenge of making racism relevant, or even evident, to those who do not bear the brunt of its ill effects is tricky. Rankine brilliantly pushes poetry's forms to disarm readers and circumvent our carefully constructed defense mechanisms against the hint of possibly being racist ourselves."
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and educated at Williams College and Columbia University, Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, a play, numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Boston Review, TriQuarterly, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. She lives and teaches in California and for years has been a faculty member in the Queens low-residency MFA Program.
Rankine will be on campus Tuesday, November 10, for two events: one at 4 p.m. particularly intended for students and a public lecture at 7 p.m. Please look for forthcoming details about these events plus activities in preparation for her visit.