Campus Community / People of SU

The Art of Conversation

Written by Allison Nitch

September 16, 2022

A row of four copies of the Common Text,

Image credit: Penguin Publishing Group, Courtesy of Hilary Hawley. Graphic: Marissa Leitch

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This year's Common Text is the memoir "Know My Name."

The Common Text program welcomes students to the university’s Ignatian-inspired process of inquiry that emphasizes meaning-making, intellectual risk-taking and engaging in deep and critical discourse.

All first-year and incoming transfer students receive a copy of the book over the summer to prepare for engagement as a university community during Convocation this fall. The issues raised by the text are incorporated into some classes and pursued in a year-long series of programs built around the themes.

The Common Text for 2022-23 is Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Following a sexual assault on Stanford University’s campus, the nation came to know Miller when she shared her victim impact statement as Emily Doe. “In Know My Name, Miller reclaims her identity as a writer, artist and cultural critic,” says Hilary Hawley, PhD, associate teaching professor in English, director of Core Learning and Engagement Programs and Common Text coordinator. Miller is scheduled to speak virtually at the Fall Convocation on Monday, September 19, 2022.

“She shares her story of trauma and healing and in the process, invites us not only to interrogate the structures that face victims of assault, but to step up and fight alongside her,” notes Hawley. “This is a necessary conversation, not only for Seattle University but for our national culture. We hope to foster conversations on consent and ways to move from ‘bystander’ to ‘upstander.’”

The Common Text program welcomes students to the university’s Ignatian-inspired process of inquiry that emphasizes meaning-making, intellectual risk-taking and engaging in deep and critical discourse.

The Common Text committee, led by Hawley and Stephanie Lewis, assistant director of the University Core, review works from a list of texts recommended by colleagues across campus and selections from publishers’ first-year experience catalogs. Committee members include SU faculty and college advisors who work with first-year students, as well as staff from key partners such as Lemieux Library and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).

Several factors are considered in the selection process, including texts that are “accessible to entering undergraduate students and relevant to their lives and seek to represent diverse perspectives,” says Hawley.

The committee pursues texts with themes that connect to the SU mission and initiatives such as LIFT SU and the Strategic Directions and ideas that engage disciplines, courses and programs across campus. Currency is also considered, says Hawley, “in terms of how its themes connect to questions that engage our cultural moment.” 

The committee points out the message of resilience in Miller’s memoir: “‘It holds the tension of pain and hope, without making the focus on getting through trauma, but rather understanding what it takes to live through it and thrive.’ The issue of sexual violence is likely to resonate across our campus … ,” says Hawley.

Hawley points out the author’s recounting of her experience preparing for trial can also inspire conversations in disciplines including nursing and the health sciences, women and gender studies, forensics and criminal justice, psychology and law.

To learn about The Common Text program, visit: https://www.seattleu.edu/academicaffairs/resources-for-undergraduate-students/the-common-text/.

 

 

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