Belmont University Students Will Read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down This Fall

Belmont University has selected Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures for their 2014 First-Year Seminar common book program.

All first-year students will enroll in a First-Year Seminar, a core General Education course that encourages a lifetime of intellectual engagement:

What is Knowledge? Are there multiple ways of knowing and understanding the world around us? How do we apply knowledge gained in the classroom to the world around us?

Every seminar emphasizes practical skills for success as a student at Belmont and as a citizen beyond: critical thinking, engaged reading and listening, effective communication.

However, each seminar is organized around a different theme; some cover literature or film, some draw on scientific principles, some explore history or religion. First-year students may enroll in a seminar based in their intended field of study or explore a new area. Faculty from disciplines across the academic spectrum teach these seminars, and they will all incorporate The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

The book complements Belmont’s 2014-2015 academic theme: “Living in a Global Community.” The annual theme, Belmont Questions, is a campus-wide tradition “developed to create a sense of community and stimulating dialog among students, faculty and staff.” Since Fall 2008, when the university hosted the Town Hall Presidential Debate, members of the Belmont community have been invited to propose ideas for a new annual theme. The common book selection, as well as many other programs, events, and activities, reflect the chosen theme each year.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down • Farrar, Straus and Giroux • 368 pages

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Macmillan’s Common Reading March Madness Picks!

Colleges and universities of all sizes in all regions are gearing up for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and Macmillan wants in on the bracketology!

Click for a closer look:

Macmillan is not affiliated with the NCAA, ESPN, or HP. Bracket Source: ESPN

Since I’m all about selecting winning books for common reading, I based my bracket picks on the schools that have adopted Macmillan titles for their programs. When neither school had—at least, not this season!—I went with the lower seed (those picks are noted in black). When Macmillan adopters went head to head, I used seed positions to make my predictions, as well.

I proposed the common reading bracket with tongue in cheek, but my little experiment has been fun and informative. Here we have a whole new perspective on the trends and the diversity in common reading selections at schools across the country.

As you can see, the competitors are very well read!

In the East, Ohio State is the favorite with Elie Wiesel’s Night, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man. First Four victor Clemson has previously adopted Ron Rash’s novel One Foot in Eden, and they’ll be reading his Saints at the River this fall. Common reader MVP No Impact Man is the Fall 2011 book at the University of Kentucky. Nickel and Dimed has been the common reading title at both UNC, Chapel Hill and Syracuse University. The UNC Tarheels have also read Picking Cotton and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, while Syracuse has adopted A Long Way Gone. The University of Washington represents with Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone dominates in the West, where the universities of Texas and Tennessee have both selected the book. Hampton University first-year students have been reading Daniel Black’s They Tell Me of a Home just this year and Temple’s have read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Number two seed San Diego State University has adopted Ray C. Anderson’s Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist.

Next, we go to the Southwest, where Boston University has favorites Nickel and Dimed and A Long Way Gone on its roster. The University of Illinois has also adopted Nickel and Dimed and the University of Akron has chosen A Long Way Gone. Class Matters has been read campus-wide at the University of Richmond, while Saint Peter’s has adopted Night. Florida State students submitted their own “This I Believe” essays when the university picked This I Believe—how many of the Seminoles wrote about basketball?

Finally, in the Southeast, University of Pittsburgh students have read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Utah State has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Wofford College freshmen have read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden. Students in the University of Wisconsin system, from Parkside to Marathon County, have read everything from This I Believe II to Deep Economy; I hope they’re all united behind the Badgers from Madison! But can sixth-seed Saint John’s take Katharine Weber’s Triangle all the way to the championship?

The Big Dance begins tomorrow—what book are you rooting for?

P.S. For more unconventional bracketology for academics, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Tweed Madness!

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is the 2009 First-Year Common Read at Mount Holyoke College

This year, all first-year students at Mount Holyoke College read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.

Mount Holyoke’s First-Year Common Read program, which began in 2000, is one component of the college’s orientation program.  Incoming students receive a copy of the book over the summer along with registration and other ‘welcome’ materials.  During orientation in the fall, students come together to discuss the book with their new classmates and student orientation leaders.

The shared reading experience provides a starting point for the first of the many intellectual engagements that will take place both inside and outside the classrooms in four years at Mount Holyoke.

This year, other events surrounding the common read selection included a faculty panel for discussion of the book’s cultural, ethical, and spiritual themes, and a reading and talk given by the author, both open to the whole campus community. Students and faculty contributed their thoughts on a blog dedicated to the common read.

In keeping with the oral tradition of the Hmong people, Mount Holyoke’s Language Resource Center and Library, Information, and Technology Services created Fish Soup, an oral history project that gives first-year students the opportunity to explore and preserve their college’s cultural history.  Students are invited to, with a few guidelines, interview a peer, tell a story of their own, and, if they wish, contribute a recording to the Fish Soup archive.

The Fish Soup project is a unique way for students to gain deeper understanding of their own experiences, hear about their classmates’ backgrounds, and practice using the resources and equipment available in the college library.  Click here to learn more about the project, continuing in 2010.

In previous years, Mount Holyoke has adopted Nickel and Dimed and Field Notes from a Catastrophe for the First-Year Common Read program.  Click here to see lists of other schools that have used these Popular Picks for first-year reading!