Summer Reading Groups
These small group meetings (no more than 12 students) meet 3 times in July with a faculty member to discuss common readings.
Books are provided at no charge and there is no work involved other than keeping up with the reading assignments. Get to know a faculty member and other first-year Chesick Scholars and get a head-start in finding your voice in a supportive academic setting. Enrollment in these is limited and first-come-first-served.
Interested students should sign up using the application on the Forms page; there are spaces to enter your first, second and third choices (if you wish), in case some groups fill up before you apply. Students need to commit to attending all three sessions.
Below are the descriptions for Summer 2021’s reading groups. Summer 2022 Reading Groups are TBA.
How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
Run by Professor Maud McInerney
Meeting Schedule: July 8, 15, 22, from noon-1 p.m. Eastern Time.
"As I write this, it’s February — Black History Month in the United States. Everyone jokes that of course black history gets celebrated only during the shortest month of the year. No one seems puzzled by the fact that there is no time correspondingly devoted to examining, celebrating, or imagining the black future."
These are the words of author N.K. Jemisin, in a 2013 essay on Afrofuturism. How Long 'Til Black Future Month is also the title of a collection of Jemisin's short stories, some science fiction and some fantasy, all centering people of colour in genres they have long been excluded from. In this reading group, we will focus on three of her stories—but I very much hope you will explore more on your own, and perhaps go on to read Jemisin's extraordinary Broken Earth Trilogy.
Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria
Run by Professor Emma Lapsansky-Werner
Meeting Schedule: July 14, 21, 28, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern Time.
What is the role of “public intellectuals”—known in other eras and cultures as “philosophers,” or “sages”? How do their insights and points of view invite us to do what college asks of us: that is, to “think about thinking,” to contemplate the world we live in, and to muse about how we ourselves intend to relate to that world?
Using Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World, we will follow public intellectual Zakaria across many cultures and eras as he probes some of these questions through the lens of the recent pandemic.
Some of our most stimulating modern public intellectuals are multi-cultural, their ideas built upon realities from across the world and across time. In these three hours, as we read and explore Zakaria's musings—whose cultural experience and education encompasses India and the U.S.—we will also entertain brief encounters with a few other modern multicultural public intellectuals whose reach spans several cultures, including Audre Lorde (Barbados, Granada, New York), and Malcolm Gladwell (Jamaica, England, Canada).
Persepolis Volume 1 by Marjane Satrapi
Run by Assistant Professor Nimisha Ladva
Meeting Schedule: July 8, 15, 22 at 11:00 a.m.-noon Eastern Time.
Books allow us to meet people whose paths we may not cross in real life; here, our selected memoir (in graphic novel form) is about a girl whose life is upended by the Revolution in Iran in 1981. We'll be discussing the impact of religious fundamentalism on Marjane's life, the tension between how she sees herself and how the world sees her, and what it means for her when she realizes that the answers to the big questions in life don't come in neat packages—especially when that means she has to confront the ways her parents are right about some things, but not all things. Our discussions will introduce students to:
- Some of the issues at play in the relationship between the United States and Iran.
- Questions about religious fundamentalism, sexism, and socioeconomic class.
- Strategies to interpret visual culture.