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For the tenth year in a row, incoming first-year and transfer students have had summer reading to do. This summer, it was the memoir My Beloved World by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to be appointed to the high court. It’s part of Brown’s First Readings program, which aims to give all incoming students a shared intellectual experience. Last year’s book was The New Jim Crow,  a scholarly work about the relationship between racism and mass detention in the United States. Sotomayor’s best-selling memoir follows her path from a housing project in the Bronx to the Ivy League and ultimately the Supreme Court. She writes about her father’s alcoholism, her experiences with prejudice, and her struggle with juvenile diabetes.  Students discussed the book in small groups during the first week of school.

MyBelovedWorld_Sotomayor.jpg

 





Comments (4)
10/17/16
 
Reading and sharing intellectual experiences are great, but why not give incoming students a choice of 3 or 4 books? Brown has no distribution requirements, encourages students to define their own major, and, of course, choose their own courses. Seems incongruous to push a single book to the entire incoming class. Is there a danger of mass indoctrination?
 
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10/17/16
 
Today's "liberal education" at Brown is all about indoctrination. Why not allow the students to at least choose a biography of any living Supreme Court justice? I would choose Clarence Thomas. His discipline and intellect fascinate me. I would add Antonin Scalia if recently deceased justices could be chosen. Thomas and Scalia will be remembered as the friends who were the pillars of the Constitution, as it was trampled on by liberal thinkers who will soon be forgotten for the mediocrities they are.
 
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10/25/16
 
While I'd agree that choice is usually the more preferable proposition, the premise for the required reading is that it be one (or a common set) book to facilitate a "shared intellectual experience" and exchange. In light of Brown's journey over the years from how it financed itself through its engagement in the slave trade to its current standing as a beacon for learning and societal reform, both books are excellent choices. Perhaps the pendulum will swing in future years to reading more conservative perspectives and authors -- and it should -- but I just can't see how you can set the stage for a shared discussion by extending too many choices, which would water down the effort into a frivolous one.
 
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07/21/17
 
I propose that at least 2 books be chosen every year, with opposing view points. The effort wouldn't be watered down if ~700 students read one book, and 800 read the other, for example. In fact, the discussion could be a lot livelier. Lots of students will probably read both.
 
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