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Summer reading for incoming first-year students

Each year at Augustana, all incoming first-year students read a common book during the summer before their arrival on campus as an initiation into the college's intellectual community. The faculty who teach "Liberal Studies First Year (LSFY) 101: Rhetoric and the Liberal Arts" have selected Louise Erdrich's The Round House as this year's Augie Reads text.

The Augie Reads book is integrated into the first-year academic program. All LSFY classes taught in the fall will use the book and the required summer writing assignment about the book as part of their common curriculum during the first few weeks of each course. There will also be sessions related to issues in the book in the Fall Symposium Day on Sept. 24. Symposium Day is a day when no classes are scheduled and the entire campus instead participates in workshops, discussions, and community events that all focus on one theme.

The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction. The year is 1988. The place is an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. The narrator of the novel is Joe, who has just turned 13, and is looking forward to a summer of hanging out with his best friends. When his mother is the victim of sexual assault, Joe’s entire family must deal with the emotional, physical, political, and legal impact of the crime. This story asks us to consider a real and ongoing legal issue of crime on a reservation as well as the psychological impact of the hate crime on Joe’s mother, the family and the community. Erdrich also asks us to consider the question of revenge as justice. We will have plenty to think and write and talk about after reading this book.

We encourage you to seek support if you have been affected by sexual violence. Once you are on campus in the fall, you can seek support in our counseling office.

For immediate help, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) website.

You can buy the novel when you come to campus for Orientation & Registration. You'll receive a reading guide and a short writing assignment during Orientation & Registration. You will read the book over the summer and bring the book and your completed paper to campus in the fall. As you are reading and writing, if you find yourself interested in learning more about Ojibwe culture, tribal laws, life on a reservation, or other related topics, check out the resources available to you through the Thomas Tredway Library.

During Welcome Week in the fall, you will attend a faculty panel discussion about the book, and participate in a discussion with your LSFY 101 classmates, led by your LSFY 101 professor. You will turn in the paper to your professor on the first day of class. The paper will be used as part of writing instruction in the first few weeks of class, so it is your first college homework assignment.

This book is a compelling read. The LSFY 101 faculty look forward to discussing and analyzing it with you, and the rest of the class of 2018. If you have any questions, please email Augie Reads chair Katie Hanson.