The faculty and student text selection committee, led by the Chair of the Residential Faculty Council and including representatives from the undergraduate schools and SCUE, considered over two hundred nominations faculty, students and staff before choosing Wills's book for the way he " explores issues of language and culture that bear directly on America's sense of itself. As Wills puts it," the committee quoted:
The Gettysburg Address has become an authoritative expression of the American spirit--as authoritative as the Declaration itself, and perhaps even more influential, since it determines how we read the Declaration. For most people now, the Declaration means what Lincoln told us it means, as a way of correcting the Constitution itself without overthrowing it. It is this correction of the spirit, this intellectual revolution, that makes attempts to go back beyond Lincoln to some earlier version so feckless. The proponents of states' rights may have arguments, but they have lost their force in courts as well as in the popular mind. By accepting the Gettysburg Address, its concept of a single people dedicated to a proposition, we have changed. Because of it, we live in a different America.
Those interested in leading a session should contact the Office of Academic Programs in Residence (898-5551). Copies of the Touchstone/Simon & Schuster edition and other materials will be sent to leaders in July, and workshops will be held in late August and on Penn Reading Project Day.
Volume 43 Number 35
May 20, 1997
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