As part of your First Year Experience, we are asking you to read J. D. Vance’s bestselling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
. Discussion of the book will play an important role during Orientation and in your First Year Seminar course in the fall. The book chronicles Vance’s own story of transformation: out of the crippling poverty and culture of violence that characterized his childhood, through a college education and service in the Marines, unto Yale Law and beyond. It is also, simultaneously, a rich sociological analysis of the growing crisis of the white underclass from which Vance came — its hardworking and hard-living values, its disappearing sense of opportunity and its growing sense of estrangement, and ultimately the responsibility it must take for its own despair, anger, and cynicism. Compassionate and critical, both the New York Times and The American Conservative
have hailed it as a timely, moving, and deeply important book for American self-reflection and self-examination. The text provides an ideal jumping-off point for the First Year Experience, as in your Freshman Seminar you will have your own chance to engage the difficult and vital questions about yourself and our contemporary world that will make your education meaningful and transformational.
All incoming students will be mailed a copy of the book to their home address in July and should read the book before arrival to campus on August 20th.