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Common Summer Reading Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Common Summer Reading selection for 2015?

Letters of Note The Composition Committee has selected a collection of letters edited by Shaun Usher. Letters of Note is a fascinating compilation of various correspondences throughout history. From the "big ticket" curiosities ("In Event of Moon Disaster"), to the seemingly inconsequential ("Regarding Your Dam Complaint"), this book of letters is ripe with history, human complexity, and diverse linguistics. Copies will be available at the campus bookstore (Chronicle Books 2014). Here is the website.

Why does the SUNY New Paltz Composition Program require first-year students to read over the summer?

SUNY New Paltz, like many colleges and universities across the country, has implemented a common summer reading program for several reasons. We want to reinforce the principle that engaging in critical reading is an important part of being a member of an academic community. To that end, we have posted discussion questions and writing assignments online to help students think about the speeches as they are reading. We also hope that this program will provide a means by which our incoming students become part of the academic community here at SUNY New Paltz. By encouraging first-year students to engage in critical reading, discussion, and to think about rhetorical situations in written texts—whether in their Composition classrooms or in extracurricular settings—the reading initiative invites dialogue among students as well as between students and faculty. We are currently coordinating extra-curricular programming (in previous years, we have sponsored a photography exhibit, author speaking engagements, film screenings, and residence hall discussion groups), to be announced in Composition classes this fall.

Does every first-year student read the selection(s)?

Almost. Those students enrolled in Composition I or Composition II in the Fall semester will be required to read the text. However, we encourage those students who are in General Honors English and Intermediate Composition to read them, too, and to take part in campus discussions and events. Check with your instructor if you have questions.

Where do students find the background material, discussion questions, and writing assignments associated with the summer reading?

Throughout the summer, first-year students should refer to the study guide while they read to help them reflect on themes and writing matters in the letters. While students are not required to complete the assignments in advance, they should familiarize themselves with the book and the study guide. All students write an ungraded, sample essay on the first day of class to be sure they are registered properly; most instructors will include a question or questions related to the Common Summer Reading. If you have specific questions about how your instructor will incorporate the book into the course syllabus, email the instructor directly. 

The complete Common Summer Reading materials will also be posted on the Composition Program's website (under the English Department). When students come to SUNY New Paltz, they will be issued a computer ID and password to allow them access to our campus Blackboard site where their instructors may also post related course materials. Students should check their campus email accounts regularly for updates on related study materials and events.

If you have any questions, email Joann K. Deiudicibus, Composition Program Staff Assistant: deiudicj@zmail.newpaltz.edu