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.
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.
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
--Peter Conn, Deputy