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Augie Reads 2021 summer essay

Welcome to Augustana College! This summer you will read an important work of historical fiction — "When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka — and write a short essay about it.

You’ll bring a copy of your finished essay to the first day of your First-Year Inquiry/First-Year Honors 101 class. We look forward to discussing the book with you when you join our intellectual community as a first-year student.

American author Otsuka's 2003 novel "When the Emperor was Divine" tells the story of a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp during World War II.

The faculty originally chose this book because of its powerful narrative and exploration of an often-forgotten, painful experience during the war. Yet, we also think the book speaks to our present moment, including experiences during the recent coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent rise in anti-Asian violence.

In your two- to three-page Augie Reads essay, please explain how ONE of the following specific themes develops throughout the novel. Support your explanation with brief quotations and paraphrases from throughout the book.

Themes to choose from:

• Race and racism

• The experiences of uncertainty and loneliness

• Our response to a crisis, whether as individuals or as nations

Include the page number(s) any time you cite the text, whether quoting or paraphrasing.

If you are unfamiliar with the history of Japanese-American internment, we recommend that you read one of the short introductions on this library resource page before you read the book and/or write your essay.

Note that your instructor does not expect you to have completely mastered the book. Your instructor does expect that you give your best effort to explain your chosen theme, because this essay will serve as a jumping-off point for your first year at Augustana College.

Please have it completed before starting your First-Year Inquiry/First-Year Honors 101 course. 

The essay is due Aug. 30, 2021.