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Common Reading 2019: Summer Assignment [required]

Summer Assignment: Perspectives on Resilience

To help us get to know you better, we ask you to write a story—a personal tale—about how a story or a storyteller has affected your life. Your story will be collected during orientation week and will help introduce you to your instructor. 


In your story, include some of the following details: where you are from, your family, your interests, circumstances or events that have influenced who you are, what matters to you personally or academically. In this story, you must also draw connections between your life experience and at least two texts you have read in Common Reading: The Power of Stories. Here are some examples of ways your own story might connect with various texts: 

  • Maybe you have been influenced by a particular superhero and can connect to Robin Rosinberg’s analysis of superhero origin stories. Think about “origins” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay on influences, racism, and reputation.
  • Are you interested in the narrative of gender roles? Reread Keith Edwards and Susan Jones’s study of college men alongside the interview with poker star Annie Duke. 
  • Consider the meaning of “truth” in storytelling through the lens of Ben Okri and Emily Dickinson. 
  • Did a story influence you to want to study medicine or business? Look at the piece about medical students by Drs. Bezzubova, Shapiro, and Koons, and at Philipp Schönthaler’s  analysis of the role of stories in business management.
  • Do you think about who gets to tell the story? Start with Chimamanda Ngozis Adichie’s thoughts about the danger of the single story and then move on to Amos Barshad’s piece about athletes choosing to tell their own story. 

 The assignment should be typed, double-spaced, and 2-3 pages long. You do not need a works cited page, but as you will be paraphrasing (or quoting directly) from the book, please put last names of authors and page numbers in parentheses whenever referencing them in your story. Here's an example of how you might do this: 


      The story of my family’s struggle with poverty definitely plays a role in who I am today, but “to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me” (Adichie 44).  


Write in your own voice! Even though this is an academic assignment, your tone should be closer to a personal essay than a formal essay. This is our chance to hear what you think about Susquehanna University's 2018-2019 theme, “The Power of Stories.”