New students and faculty throng to Barton Hall to discuss Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart'

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"Things Fall Apart." It's a book. It's a fact of life. It's also a reason for getting together. And on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 3:30 p.m., more than 3,500 first-year and transfer students will gather in Cornell University's Barton Hall for an interactive faculty presentation on Chinua Achebe's masterpiece "Things Fall Apart." The Sunday event, a highlight of Cornell's fifth annual New Student Reading Project, will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Channel 16.

On Monday, Aug. 22, Cornell students, led by administrators, faculty members, graduate students and staff, will meet in 230 groups across campus to discuss Achebe's work. More than 24,000 Cornell alumni from 31 class years also are involved in the reading project. In addition, 5,000 students from 59 high schools in 17 New York counties and New York City are reading "Things Fall Apart" as part of a statewide pilot program coordinated through Cornell Cooperative Extension and the reading project.

Achebe himself will read from his novel and from his poetry Thursday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Statler Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, although a ticket will be required for admission. Tickets will be available at a later date.

Cornell faculty panelists for the Barton Hall discussion include: Nicolas van de Walle, associate dean for international studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Mario Einaudi Center; Natalie Melas, associate professor of comparative literature and director of graduate studies in comparative literature; and Biodun Jeyifo, professor of English and associate chair of the English department. Provost Biddy Martin will moderate the panel.

For campus and alumni readings and related events, visit Cornell's reading project Web site at or visit the Cornell Cybertower site at