Thomas Eakins' "The Gross Clinic" selected for 2009-10 Penn Reading Project

Thomas Eakins' "The Gross Clinic"

Thomas Eakins' painting, "The Gross Clinic," is the 2009-10 Penn Reading Project selection. This is the first visual text selection in the Project's 19-year history.

For the past 18 years, the Penn Reading Project has showcased books ranging from “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography” to Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.”

For its 19th year, the Project highlights a painting: Thomas Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic.”

Reading Project Director David Fox says they chose the painting because it is a major work of art and a document of Philadelphia medical history. Additionally, Eakins was born in Philadelphia and studied and spent most of his career here.

Freshmen will gather in small groups with faculty and staff leaders in early September as part of New Student Orientation.

The discussions are part of Penn’s Arts & the City Year, a celebration of arts and culture across campus—and throughout the neighborhood, city and region.

Fox says books will always be the foundation of the Reading Project, but working with “The Gross Clinic” opens doors to other avenues. “Specifically, the website we designed for ‘The Gross Clinic,’ which involved collaborative work with Penn faculty and others, is a model for how to work on future PRPs that can involve more than written texts,” he says.

Originally published on August 4, 2009