After the termination of the Common Reading Initiative (CRI) last year, “Cover to Cover,” a new reading group, sprung up this semester to pick up the task of fostering a culture of reading on campus.
“So (JohnReid McGlamory and I) were working on something else this summer, and we decided that we wanted to have a book club,” said Patricia Harris, the director of the Writing Center and one of the founders of the group.
“We wanted to offer students an opportunity to read serious work beyond (the) classroom and create a culture of learning, create a discourse community that includes these texts and the ideas in these texts.”
According to Harris, she and McGlamory, a senior English language arts education major from Andalusia, selected the books for the reading list that are unlikely to be taught in the classroom, but would prepare students for graduate school.
“I will tell you, we learn more by discussing what we’re reading,” McGlamory said. “If we read these books just cold, we’re not going to get anything from it.”
The club’s themed twice-monthly meetings provide an opportunity for students to interact with professors in roundtable discussions. Kirk Curnutt, the chair of the English department, led the discussion on September’s Western-themed works by Sam Shepard and Cormac McCarthy.
“It’s a play that almost disappeared,” Curnutt said about “True West” by Sam Shepard. “In the early stages, it was so weird; it was so nonsensical that people did not know how to interpret it.
“(Shepard) was kind of like an American Samuel Beckett.”
Paul Roy, a senior theater major from Prattville who attended the discussion, said that he was particularly interested in “True West,” as he is currently working on set design for a scene from the play.
“I want to do dramaturgy … so this is right up my alley,” Roy said. “I just love talking about plays, so I really was like, ‘I’ll be there.’”
Dramaturgy is the theory and practice of dramatic composition.
In October, “Cover to Cover” takes on the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie’s and Erik Larson’s “And Then There Were None,” “Ten Little Indians” and “The Devil in the White City.”
“There will actually be a performance of (‘Ten Little Indians’) in the Cloverdale theater in Montgomery, and we’re buying 15 tickets and taking people to Montgomery,” Harris said.
The first respondents to the invitation will be able to see the show for free and carpool together, according to Harris.
The club strives to work with students’ financial challenges by providing books on the list.
“Every time, if we can find a free version of (the book), then we post that on Facebook and share it with people, and if we cannot, then we buy 10 copies, so first come, first served, and if people want to share it, they can,” Harris said.
According to Harris, the Writing Center is also organizing a host of other reading groups on campus, such as a love letter club, a graphic novel reading group and a game theory group.
The Writing Center is hosting a Reading Marathon on Oct. 17 on the main quad of the Troy campus.
Attendees will be able to read and listen to Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd” and “Bartleby the Scrivener” as well as enjoy snacks, Melville stickers and input from international scholars over Skype.
“I know so far we have somebody from Sweden, somebody from Norway, somebody who teaches at Georgia Tech and somebody who teaches at California will be reading Melville with us,” Harris said. “We’ll see.
“It’s just like everything else; we fly our flag and see who salutes, right?”
To follow the group’s events, those interested can visit the Facebook group “Cover to Cover” Book Club at Troy.