Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Starting the Online Discussion

We hope that you are nearing completion, or have completed reading What is the What.  We'd like to start a virtual conversation and learn what you think about the book.  To start off the conversation, can you reflect on the following questions and share your thoughts:

  • Do you believe a personal story such as Valentino's, a story that describes in narrative form the violence and political differences and suppression he experienced in the Sudan, is more valuable than a purely historical account?   
  • The Republic of South Sudan became an official country on July 9, 2011.  If you read any accounts of the event, did you have any reactions based on what you have been reading?
  • Did Valentino's story create an emotional response for you that newspaper reports or other historical reports could not? 
To add a comment, click on the "Comments" link below this posting.  A box will appear that will allow you to enter comments.  The comments link will identify "# Comments", and that is the link to select.  This is a moderated discussion, so posts will not appear immediately, but will be posted after approval by the moderator.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Copies of MacReads 2011 Selection Have Been Shipped

    Copies of the book, What is the What, have been mailed to new students.  Included in the mailing is a bookmark and a letter with information on how the book will be used.

    If you have comments or questions, you can use this blog to share.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Tips for Reading Critically

    • Immerse yourself in the book. Ask questions. Imagine yourself in the story. Search for personal meaning in the work.

    • Read with a pen, pencil, or highlighter. Make notes in your books as you read. Jot down your questions for discussion later.

    • Analyze themes. Make note of recurring issues. Compare and contrast passages to build your understanding as you move through the chapters.

    • Get to know the characters. Ask yourself, who are these people? How does my understanding of them develop? How do I relate to them?

    • Reflect on the reading. Relate the reading to your personal experiences.

    2011 MacReads Selection - What is the What

    What is the What, a novel by Dave Eggers, tells the compelling story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee. Uprooted from his village by civil war at age six, he walked across the Sudan to a Kenyan refugee camp, along with thousands of other displaced children. Those who made this astonishing trek ultimately became known as the “lost boys of the Sudan.” After living in refugee camps for nearly a dozen years, Valentino eventually relocates to Atlanta, Georgia, which is where he met and told Eggers about the events that serve as the basis of this beautifully written and surprisingly life-affirming book.


    Why this book?
    Macalester selected What is the What as the Fall 2011 common reading for a number of reasons: its complex portrayal of humanitarian crises; the vivid way it brings Macalester’s values of internationalism, multiculturalism and service to life; and the opportunity to put a human face on the seemingly distant events in Africa, to name a few. But most importantly, we selected What is the What because we think you will be captivated by the story. We wanted your first academic experience with Macalester to be intellectually engaging, as well as enjoyable, with rich possibilities for discussion. We hope you’ll agree that What is the What achieves those ends.