University of South Carolina

novel, first-year reading experience
First-Year Reading Experience gets graphic

First-Year Reading Experience gets graphic

At first glance, the University of South Carolina's First-Year Reading Experience 2009 selection might appear to be a very thick black-and-white comic book. But don't judge a book by its cartoon-embellished cover.

For those familiar with graphic novels, The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, is a gem of the genre, an illustrated coming-of-age story set in Iran that offers a nuanced perception of life in a culturally complex country. A movie based on the book won the 2007 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize.

Persepolis is being distributed to Carolina’s incoming class of some 4,000 freshmen during summer orientation, and the First-Year Reading Experience (FYRE) will be held Aug. 17 at the Carolina Coliseum. 

Qiana Whitted, an assistant professor in English at the Columbia campus, will begin the morning with observations of the literary value of the text and the evolution of the graphic novel genre.  Whitted will be followed by a keynote address from Waleed El-Ansary, an assistant professor of religious studies. 

Persepolis was suggested by a student on the FYRE book selection committee.

"The committee wasn't uniformly familiar with graphic novels, so it was a learning experience for everyone," said Helen Doerpinghaus, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate studies. "I have to say that I've never seen so much excitement over a book selected for the First-Year Reading Experience."

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