Summer Reading Program Explores Issues of War

Posted: July 11, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

The college experience begins a little early for first-year New Century College (NCC) students. The summer before they begin classes, NCC students all read the same book, chosen each year through the Summer Reading Program, and come prepared to share their thoughts and ideas about the book with their new classmates.

“Students arrive on campus with a common text,” says Andrew Wingfield, coordinator of the Summer Reading Committee and visiting assistant professor at NCC. “It offers them a warm and intellectually stimulating introduction to NCC.”

The committee chooses a book based on considerations such as student interest, current events and ideas, and suggestions made by faculty and staff. This year’s selection, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, is a powerful fictional exploration of the Vietnam War experience. “In the context of the current Iraq War, O’Brien’s Vietnam stories have renewed relevance for American readers,” says Wingfield. “These stories particularize young American characters’ experiences of war while questioning their—and our—notions of truth.”

Incoming first-year students will discuss the book with faculty and administrators the Friday before classes begin. Faculty members from all areas of George Mason and members of the wider community are also invited to the roundtable discussions, which mimic the seminar-style of many of NCC’s courses.

In addition, O’Brien will be on campus for the Fall for the Book festival in September. On Sept. 18, he will read for the general public; that Monday he will give a reading and participate in a question-and-answer session with the NCC first-year cohort.

Founded in 1994, New Century College promotes experiential learning, which combines classroom learning with hands-on learning in the form of field studies, internships, co-ops, community-based service learning, and research. The college offers undergraduate degrees in integrative studies, interdisciplinary minors, and a certificate in leadership studies.

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