“Clybourne Park is a play, and I think [the students] were attracted to it because we were looking for something a little bit different,” Dean of Students and organizer of the first-year book ISP Wendy Bashant reflected. Clybourne Park, penned by Bruce Norris, is about two families that live 50 years apart. It follows the story line of Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, which is about a black family that moves into a white neighborhood. The first act of Clybourne Park is about Russ and Bev, who are desperate to sell their home to the black family in Raisin in the Sun. The second act is about a white family that moves in after the homeowners in Hansberry’s play move out. “Students liked it because New College is just 50 years old and the book spans 50 years,” Bashant said. “It has a nice tie to New College.”
The first year book ISP group also read Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism by Benedict Anderson and Bare Foot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child by Elva Trevino Hart.
“[The first-year book] is students’ first academic experience together,” Bashant said. “I think that it is the most important part of orientation in a weird way because it is what New College is about — it is about being passionate about books.”