'The Great Gatsby' is New Student Reading Project book for 3,000 freshmen this fall

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby" will be required reading for more than 3,000 incoming freshman and transfer students this fall. The selection of "Gatsby" for the 2006 New Student Reading Project was announced Feb. 7 by Michele Moody-Adams, vice provost for undergraduate education.

"We expect the book to be a worthy object of reflection and discussion for our incoming students and the campus at large, as well as for those members of the surrounding community who plan to join in the reading project once again," said Moody-Adams. "The book tells a good story about memorable -- if not always likeable -- characters, and it does so in evocative and beautiful prose that deftly brings the Jazz Age to life."

Reading Fitzgerald's novel, she added, "also provides an opportunity to reflect on the complexity of many defining American ideals, on the ethical and social implications of unchecked materialism, and on the potentially corrosive effects of unregulated desire."

New Cornell students will discuss, criticize and evaluate "The Great Gatsby" during the university's orientation week, which includes a large-group symposium and small-group discussions. A faculty member will lead each small-group discussion with the assistance of an upper-level student. Once again, students will be asked to write a one-page response to one of the study questions accompanying the text. Last year over three-quarters of the new students participated in the essay contest resulting in 10 winning essays that were then posted on the Reading Project Web site http://www.reading.cornell.edu/. When classes begin, some new students will have opportunities to write about some aspect of the novel in their first-year writing seminars.

Students will receive copies of a Cornell edition of "The Great Gatsby" in their orientation materials. Moody-Adams recognizes that some incoming students might be familiar with the novel.

"We are confident that 'The Great Gatsby' will stand up to re-readings, as well as to new readings," she said. "We look forward to the opportunities it will provide to help integrate new students into the intellectual community at Cornell."

Now in its sixth year, the reading project is a brainchild of Provost Biddy Martin, who conceived the initiative as a way to encourage intellectual as well as social rapport among incoming students. The project is sponsored by the Provost's Office, with assistance from Moody-Adams and the office of Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy. For more information, contact Michael Busch, (607) 255-3062.

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Franklin Crawford