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One Book, One College—Many Possibilities for Learning

October 30, 2009

One Book, One College Kickoff Luncheon  

From left: Anne Wessely, Meramec coordinator for staff development; Bonnie S
anguinet, manager of library services, Chancellor Zelema Harris and
Paul Pai, president of the Meramec campus attend the September kickoff
for the 2009-2010 One Book, One College program.

















Set during the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao Zedong, Dai Sijie’s first novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress tells how two young men weather years of banishment as they are “re-educated” and emphasizes the power of literature to free the mind. As the 2009-2010 choice for One Book, One College, this story of the struggle to hold on to forbidden books and the power of human imagination and creativity has become the vehicle for sharing new ideas, expanding understanding and celebrating the art of storytelling.

According to Bonnie Sanguinet, manager of library services on the Meramec campus, the overall idea of One Book, One College is to get the whole college community reading and discussing the chosen book. “We build special events to support themes in the book and have a final ‘Main Event’ to celebrate the book,” said Sanguinet. “Instructors are encouraged to incorporate the book into their classroom teaching in creative ways. The program underscores the fact that we are a community of learners and reinforces the part of our mission that ‘. . . expands minds’.”

The book discussions planned for March 2010 will bring together students, faculty and staff. Many instructors have already incorporated the book or ideas presented in the book into their classroom activities and assignments, including the following:

  • Jeffrey Schneider has created an IDS course called "With These Books: Chinese and French Textural Revolutions" around Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. He will be using the novel by comparing China in the early 1970’s and its Cultural Revolution to the French novel Pere Goriot and the French Revolution. He is teaching the class at Meramec this semester and SCEUC next semester.
  • Kay Blalock is teaching “The Modern World” this fall and is offering her students an honors contract or extra credit work for writing a contrast paper using the book.
  • Gail Hafer’s economics students are writing papers on the barter system in the book, which contains three examples. They will also incorporate instances of bartering in contemporary society.
  • Patti Zeigler’s Information Recording Technology classes will be transcribing some of the text from the book, which may be then enlarged and displayed.
  • Denise Sperruzza is using the book in two sections of her cornerstone course – "Coming to America, Reflecting on the Effects of American Immigration."
  • Eric Nielsen’s economic students’ honors contracts are based on the students evaluating the value of possessions.  The students are expanding their work to include differences in time, cultural differences, and political regimes.                                                  All students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the upcoming events planned around One Book, One College:
    Monday, November 16, 2009, noon: Chinese film, The Blue Kite, in the Student Center Commons
    Thursday, November 19, 2009,  11 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.: “What Was Mao Thinking?” lecture on the Chinese Cultural Revolution by Dr. Kay Blalock, History Professor, SC 200
    Thursday, March 4, 2010, 11 a.m.: Main Event, “My Life in the Chinese Cultural Revolution”, by Ling J. Thumin, 11:00 a.m. in the Meramec Theatre followed by a reception in the Theatre Lobby.
    March, 2010: Several opportunities for group discussions of the book before and after the Main Event.