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Penn Reading Project:
Things Fall Apart

On behalf of the Council of Undergraduate Deans, we are pleased to announce that Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart will be the text for the 2002-03 Penn Reading Project. Discussion sessions for this campus-wide freshman reading project will be held on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 4, 2002.

The Penn Reading Project is marking its twelfth year. It represents, for entering students, their introduction to intellectual life at the University and to the engagement with faculty that they will experience throughout their years at Penn. It is one of the highlights of the New Student Orientation program, and significantly contributes to the shaping of students' expectations about their upcoming college career.

In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe captures a rich culture in transition. Originally published in 1958, the novel explores the internal struggles of Okonkwo, a Nigerian tribesman whose personal strength and integrity are undermined by fears that he will become like his ineffectual father. Okonkwo's personal challenges are echoed in the larger cultural narrative, as European colonists bring Christianity to Okonkwo's community, threatening the ritualistic Ibo way of life.

Though Things Fall Apart is historical fiction, it has been hailed since it appeared as a revealing portrait of a pre-colonial African culture. The book also raises the broader topic of an older culture giving way to modernity. Things Fall Apart will confront readers with difficult, timely issues such as how to be different from one's parents; how Western culture interacts with other cultures; and how to handle pressures that come from self, family, and community.

Faculty members are warmly encouraged to lead a small discussion group in September. To add your name to the list of discussion leaders, please respond to David Fox (dfox@sas or (215) 573-5636). A copy of the text will be sent to discussion leaders in July, along with additional information about the Reading Project. As in previous years, prior to the PRP sessions, there will be an orientation for our discussion leaders, and information about related events will be forthcoming. Many faculty have found these preliminary meetings with colleagues from around the University to be as rewarding as the discussion sessions themselves.

-- David Fox, Director,Penn Reading Project

--Peter Conn, Deputy Provost

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 31, April 23, 2002


April 23, 2002
Volume 48 Number 31

James Wilson, director of IHGT, is stepping down as institute broadens it focus.
The School of Dental Medicine and the School of Nursing each recognize four of their finest for excellence in teaching.
The guidelines for faculty and staff salary increases for 2002-2003 stress merit and performance as the basis for any increases.
An invitation to commencement is extended to the University community.
The deaths of two former deans (Wharton & GSFA), an emeritus professor and an emeritus trustee.
University Council committee reports on the agenda for Wednesday's meeting include: Personnel Benefits, Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, and International Programs.
The Penn Reading Project has chosen the text for the incoming freshmen class; faculty members are encouraged to lead a small discussion group in September.
The A-3 Assembly seeks volunteers (weekly-paid employees) to serve on the Executive Board; 20 positions are available.
Penn faculty and staff are invited to the Children's Festival Opening Night Picnic and Performance, as well as a lunchtime party at the Museum to celebrate its new wing and courtyard garden.
The schools announce their graduation ceremonies and speakers.