Penn Reading Project: Voltaire's Candide
The Council of Undergraduate Deans, Office of the Provost, and College Houses and Academic Services are pleased to announce that Voltaire's Candide will be the text for this year's Penn Reading Project (PRP). On Wednesday, September 5, 2001, groups of first-year students and faculty leaders will join together for lively discussion as part of New Student Orientation.
Candide is the tale of a gentle young man who finds himself on an arduous journey that tests--time and again--his unwavering faith in "the best of all possible worlds." Candide's travels send him around the globe. He confronts natural tragedy and man-made destruction; through it all, he finds a way to remain optimistic. Voltaire's story operates simultaneously as a funny and charming adventure, and a darkly ironic indictment of the kind of blind optimism that attributes all misfortune to a universal master plan. Published in 1759 on the brink of the French Revolution, Candide remains both a superb example of 18th-century wit and a timeless parable of coming of age.
PRP, now in its eleventh year, was created as an introduction to academic life. The sessions (which run from 2-3:30 p.m.) are augmented by three morning lectures by prominent Penn faculty members (details tba). There will be other supporting activities, including a festival of related films shown on Penn Video Network.
As in past years, the selection was made by a committee of faculty, staff and students, and included representatives from all four undergraduate schools. This year, John Richetti, Professor and Chair of English, chaired the committee. Past PRP books include Metamorphosis (Kafka), Woman Warrior (Kingston), Frankenstein (Shelley), and Arcadia (Stoppard).
Faculty in all twelve schools are invited to take part as PRP discussion leaders. A copy of the text will be sent to discussion leaders and students in July, along with additional information about the Reading Project.
For more information, and to volunteer as a leader, contact: David Fox (215) 573-5636 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
--David Fox, Director, Penn Reading Project
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 33, May 8, 2001