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Wayne State University brings Big Read to campus

September 26, 2007

The Wayne State University Library System is rallying up the campus community to join in on the Big Read, a community-wide reading program that takes place now through the end of October and is designed to promote reading for pleasure and enlightenment. The novel selected for the Detroit Big Read program is “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Participants will be encouraged to form groups to read and discuss this classic novel.

Along with partners, the Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Library System will be hosting a series of events. Campus events will include:

October 11: Library System Book discussion, noon, Bernath Seminar Room, Undergraduate Library Third Floor. For more information, contact WSU Librarian Lothar Spang at  

October 12: Film screening, “Zora Neale Hurston: A Heart with Room for Every Joy,” a documentary on the life of Zora Neale Hurston. Bernath Auditorium, UGL. Runtime: Approximately 45 minutes. Screenings at: noon and 4 p.m. Free and open to public.

October 17: Panel discussion of the work of Zora Neale Hurston, Bernath Auditorium, UGL, 12:30–1:30 p.m. The panelists will include members of the WSU campus and local literary community. (Confirmed panel members: Liza Lagman Sperl, WSU Honors Program; Jean Burton, PhD candidate, Gerontology. Moderator: Paul Beavers, Wayne State Library assessment officer and librarian).

Several classes will be using the book as part of their curriculum, including Professor Todd Duncan’s Intro to African American Literature course and the Honors Program’s MedStart course. “Our students, most of whom have great science backgrounds, have read very little since high school,” said Nancy Galster, Honors Program special initiatives coordinator and instructor of MedStart. “Doctors need to be aware of their constituents -- their culture, their literature and the way they think. Perhaps by reading this classic, our students will become more aware of their future patients especially as they enter medical school here in Detroit.”

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

Over 100 copies of the novel are available for checkout at the Wayne State Undergraduate Library circulation desk. For more information on Detroit’s Big Read, or to learn about more citywide events, visit  

The Wayne State University Library System consists of the university's five libraries: The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, the Purdy/Kresge Library, the Shiffman Medical Library, the Arthur Neef Law Library and the Science and Engineering Library, the Library and Information Science Program and the Office for Teaching and Learning.

Wayne State University is a premier institution offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to nearly 33,000 students.