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2017-2018 Campus Read

Campus Read Essays

This year for Campus Read, fourteen essays have been selected that explore ideas and experiences ranging from literacy, cultural relativism, artificial intelligence and uses of technology, gender identity, poverty, and sense of self.

The author of the essay “Liberal Education and the Republic of the Imagination”, Azar Nafisi, will be the Distinguished Lecture Series guest in Fall of 2017. She will be visiting campus on September 25th.

The Essays


“The Joy of Reading and Writing; Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie

Author Sherman Alexie

In “The Joy of Reading and Writing; Superman and Me” the author remembers teaching himself to read at a very young age on the reservation (going through Grapes of Wrath while his peers tackled Dick and Jane). He explores the struggle of wanting to succeed when other Indians and non-Indians expected him to fail.

“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr

Author Nicholas Carr

In “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Nicholas Carr considers the negatives of the internet and how it may be remapping our brains. In a world of skimming through information have we lost the art of diving deep into the text? And where will these tech companies ultimately bring us with promises of artificial intelligence?

“Letter to my Son” by Ta-Nehsi Coates

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Letter to my son” is an essay adapted from the author’s book Between the World and Me. It is written as a letter to his son addressing in a real way what it looked like and felt like growing up as a black man. He is very real about the fear, the racism, the struggle, and finding identity as a black man in the 1980’s.
“On Self-Respect” by Joan Didion

Author Joan Didion

“On Self-Respect”: its source, its power, is an introspective work challenging us to look at our past and our future through a proper view and understanding of ourselves. Self-respect lies somewhere between a child-like innocence and a destructive self criticism.

“Redfaced and Shaking” by Natashia Deón

Author Natashia Deón

“Redfaced and Shaking” is a moving piece challenging us to look honestly at our past as Americans, in all its brutality. Not for the purpose of shame and guilt, but rather to move forward and be redeemed.
“Nobel Laureate Speech” by Malala Yousafzai

Author Malala Yousafzai

Nobel Laureate Speech – Read this very passionate, very personal acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize. In it Malala continues to stand up, speak out, and fight for the countless voiceless of children deprived of education.

“The New American Divide” by Charles Alan Murray

Author Charles Alan Murray

In “The New American Divide”, Murray illustrates how the gap between the upper middle class and the working class has changed between 1960 to 2010. From the essay, “The ideal of an ‘American way of life’ is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated.”
“Liberal Education & the Republic of the Imagination” by Azar Nafisi

Author Azar Nafisi

The essay, “Liberal Education & the Republic of the Imagination,” from the article: “Focuses on the role of imaginative knowledge in liberal arts education. Role of liberal education in instilling cultural relativism and toleration in students.”

“Diversity Isn’t “Being in the Room” — It’s Whites Giving Up Their Seats” by Ernest Owens

Author Ernest Owens

“Diversity Isn’t “Being in the Room” — It’s Whites Giving Up Their Seats” is a thought provoking yet very practical article explaining what it would take for people of color to have power in a mostly white driven world. A true diversity necessitates white people not always having what they have always had.
“How Diversity Works” by Katherine W. Phillips

Author Katherine W. Phillips

“How Diversity Works” discusses the benefits of diversity in organizations. “The author notes that research has shown social diversity in a group can cause discomfort, a lack of trust, and lower communication, adding that research has also shown that socially diverse groups are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”

“Why Bother?” by Michael Pollan

Author Michael Pollan

His essay, “Why Bother?” explores the questions and ethics around changing habits and daily routines to reduce personal carbon footprints. Can one person making minor changes in their life (biking to work/planting a garden) reverse the late stages of climate change that we have found ourselves in? Or is it too little, too late?
“Does Truth Matter – Science, Pseudoscience, and Civilization” by Carl Sagan

Author Carl Sagan

“Does truth matter: science, pseudoscience and civilization.” From the article: “Science has beauty, power, and majesty that can provide spiritual as well as practical fulfillment. But superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way providing easy answers, casually pressing our awe buttons, and cheapening the experience.”

“The Singer Solution to World Poverty” by Peter Singer

Author Peter Singer

“The Singer Solution to World Poverty” – from the article, “Is it possible to quantify our charitable burden? In the following essay, Singer offers some unconventional thoughts about the ordinary American’s obligations to the world’s poor and suggests that even his own one-fifth that he gives away to relief work may not be enough.”
“Pursuing Happiness As A Trans Woman Of Color” by Kai Cheng Thom

Author Kai Cheng Thom

“Pursuing Happiness As A Trans Woman Of Color” — from the essay, “Growing up, trans women of color are taught to expect nothing but violence, rejection, and early death. I found gender euphoria against the odds through trans sisterhood — and by redefining my idea of happiness.”