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President Reading Circle 2019

The President's Reading Circle

The 2020-2021 President's Reading Circle

Dr. Campbell is pleased to announce two books for the 2020 President’s Reading Circle. The first is a novel, currently on the New York Times’ Best Seller List and a Good morning America Book Club selection, Brit Bennett’s "The Vanishing Half."  The second, also a novel, is Bernardine Evaristo’s, "Girl, Woman, Other," the 2019 winner of the Booker Prize, the British equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Evaristo was the first Black woman and first Black British person to win the prestigious award.

The Vanishing Half

Girl Woman Other

Reading Circle Format

Any Spelman student from any class or major can apply for the reading circle. The application link is sent via email, and between 12 and 15 students will be chosen to participate. The virtual gatherings will follow the same format we used for the in-person gatherings and will begin with some social time together. 

There are four sessions scheduled, and the last session on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, will be open to the entire Spelman community.

CasteIsabel Wilkerson's Novel, "Caste"

President Campbell is inviting the entire Spelman community to join in reading Isabel Wilkerson’s new book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent” over the winter break. She will set a date in January, just before the spring semester begins, for public discussions of the topic.

2019 Reading Circle

Dr. Campbell's Book Club Dinner

How it All Began . . .

Common Reading ExperienceIn the fall of 2015, the Office of the President created a unique opportunity for students to engage in a collective literary program designed to introduce students to an interdisciplinary approach to the arts and liberal studies.

Designed by President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., in collaboration with members of the senior team -- Drs. Myra Burnett, interim provost of Academic Affairs; Darnita Killian, vice president of Student Affairs; and Desiree Pedescleaux, dean of Undergraduate Studies -- the goal of the program is to bring a select group of students together to engage in critical interdisciplinary discussions with the president and select faculty.

Spelman's community of learners read "Alexander Hamilton," a biography written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow. In January 2016, 30 Spelman students experienced a defining moment in their intellectual lives by embarking upon a New York excursion to see the Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The program was received with excitement and enthusiasm, and students and faculty shared how the program significantly impacted their lives and enriched their Spelman learning experience.

Alice Walker Comes to Spelman The Reading Circle Continues

With support from co-sponsors Dr. Beverly Guy Sheftall, the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies, the Spelman College Women's Center, the Office of the Provost, and the Division of Student Affairs, Dr. Campbell continued to inspire students to think critically, examine ideas, and embrace learning across disciplines as she hosted the President's Book Circle again in 2016.

Twenty-five students were selected through an application process to read internationally celebrated writer, poet and activist Alice Walker's trilogy of novels —"The Color Purple," "The Temple of My Familiar" and "Possessing the Secret of Joy." Walker, who attended Spelman from 1961-1963, returned to campus as the Mellon Artist-in-Residence. During this visit, she delivered a public convocation, attended selected classes and paid a visit to the President’s Book Circle. To complete the experience, Book Circle members traveled to New York to the see the Broadway musical, "The Color Purple."

Reflections on Alice Walker's Visit

blue-quote-leftThis demonstration project illustrates how the arts in collaboration with the liberal arts can be a catalyst for new knowledge and new ways of thinking and knowing. The arts play a critical role at Spelman, as we live in a world that requires creativity, resilience, a comfort in risk taking and with the rapidity of change in today’s world, the exercise of the imagination. blue-quote-right
-- President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.

A Special Thank You

The College extends a special thank you to the Andrew Mellon Foundation for its support. Established in 1969, the Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.  To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.