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FYE Book

Station Eleven book coverStation Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, is a 2014 National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist.

The story surrounds a young woman, Kristen Raymonde, traveling with a small group of actors and musicians 20 years after a devastating pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, and civilization with it.  The novel moves back and forth between life after the disaster for Kristen and her troupe and a collection of people experiencing the event itself, slowly revealing the connections between the two storylines as it unfolds.  It may be Sci-Fi or Apocalyptic Fiction, but it uses its dystopic plot to ask the essential questions of all great literature — not about the future or the apocalypse, but about life here, and now, made immediate and precious because we realize it might be gone tomorrow.

The troupe’s motto [whose source parents may recognize] is: “Survival is insufficient.”  It begs the question, what do we need to lead meaningful lives?  The troupe’s answer is art — Shakespeare and Chopin.  But as the novel moves forward, and further from the familiar world, its pressing questions multiply:  What does it really mean to have to start again?  Does a new world require new forms of art (or love, or community)?  If so, how does one create those things?  What would it really mean to have to start again, to create from nothing?  What is our relationship to our past — as individuals or societies?  What do our relationships to each other mean, and why? 

Though sometimes dark and often bleak, the novel is also a celebration of the (often small) acts of grace and creations of wonder that populate our lives, and why we should not take them for granted.  The text provides an ideal jumping-off point for the First Year Experience, as in their Freshman Seminar students embrace their own chance to start anew, and learn to engage the difficult and vital questions that will make their education meaningful and transformational.

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.

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Summer 2017

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August 19, 2017

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August 19-23, 2017

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