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Common Reading Book - Library Resources: Overview

Since 1997, incoming freshmen at ASU have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to Appalachian State University. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a shared experience with other new students.

Common Reading

Common Reading ExperienceSince 1997, incoming first-year students at Appalachian State University have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to the university. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a common experience with other new students that will help develop a sense of community with their new environment and introduce them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian. This program is an exciting facet in Appalachian's orientation of new students to life on campus.

Common Reading Program

“Appalachian’s Summer Reading Program provides an important common experience for entering freshmen, helps develop a sense of community with their new environment and introduces them to the academic rigor of college.”
- Former Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock

Common Reading Program Events

Judy Shepard - Black and Gold Convocation
Monday, August 20, 2018 - 10:00 am

The Laramie Project - Department of Theater & Dance
Valborg Theater, October 2-9, 2018

"After Equality: Where Should the LGBTQ Movement Go from Here?"
Belk Library, Room 114
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 5:00 pm

Moisés Kaufman - Public Address, Schaefer Center
Monday, April 8, 2019 - 7:00 pm

Moisés Kaufman - Reading and Book Signing
Grandfather Ballroom, Student Union

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 9:30 am

Conversation on the Laramie Project
Blue Ridge Ball Room,  Plemmons Student Union
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 6:00 pm


2018 Common Reading Book

The 2018 Common Reading Book is The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman

The Laramie Project

The Common Reading Program at Appalachian State is pleased to announce the 2018-19 book selection: The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theater Project. The Laramie Project is a play about the community of Laramie, Wyoming in the aftermath of the 1998 tragic murder of Matthew Shepard, who was a gay student at the University of Wyoming. The murder was denounced as a hate crime and sparked a national debate. 

Members of the Tectonic Theater Project flew from New York City to Laramie and interviewed over 100 members of the community about their reactions to the murder and to the media attention that engulfed their town. The resulting play presents the perspectives of multiple people simultaneously, including the citizens of Laramie, members of the Tectonic Theater Project, and members of the media. The themes that emerge from this documentary-style play transcend the small town of Laramie, making The Laramie Project one of the most performed plays in America. Matthew Shepard was killed 20 years ago this fall.  

Director of the Common Reading Program, Dr. Martha McCaughey, said, “The Laramie Project represents a creative and illuminating response to an act of inhumane violence.  The various perspectives about exclusion, violence, and community membership offered by The Laramie Project are quite relevant for our incoming first-year students, whom we hope will engage in discussions about the issues that shape our community.” 

Appalachian will welcome Moisés Kaufman to campus on Monday, September 17, 2018.  He will give a 7:00pm public address at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.  He will also do a reading from his work as well as a book-signing on Tuesday, September 18 at 9:30am in Grandfather Mountain Ballroom of Plemmons Student Union. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Moisés Kaufman is a playwright, director, and founder of the Tectonic Theater Project. He is a 2015 winner of the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U. S. government. He lives in New York City, where he has directed, most recently, Torch Song.

Judy Shepard, the mother of the late Matthew Shepard and President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, will speak at Black & Gold Convocation on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018.  Throughout the academic year, McCaughey said, students will remain engaged with the book’s themes through Welcome Weekend discussions, their First Year Seminar classes, and at the events being held on campus. The Department of Theatre & Dance will be producing The Laramie Project, directed by Teresa Lee, Professor of Theatre. The play runs from Oct. 2-Oct. 9 in Valborg Theatre.

Book Discussions

Book discussions of the 2018 Common Reading Book will take place across campus during Welcome Weekend (August, 2018).