Summer Reading

The Honors College Forum is the mission course of the College. The primary role of this class is to engage all our first year Honors college students to develop traits and non-cognitive skills—such as critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, social skills, persistence, creativity, and introspection—that allow them to contribute meaningfully to society and to succeed in their public lives, workplaces, homes, and other societal contexts. In preparation for the Forum all incoming students participate in the summer reading program. This year's book is The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh, a book that tackles the conceptual problem of imagining climate change, especially as it pertains to one of the dominant art forms of the modern era, the novel. Mr. Ghosh will be visiting the Honors College in October. 

Summer Reading 2019


The Great Derangement - Amitav GhoshThe Honors College is excited to announce that the summer reading for incoming students for 2019 is Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Ghosh, an award-winning novelist and non-fiction writer, will be visiting the Honors College on Wednesday, October 23, when he will speak in a plenary session of the Honors College Forum. For students not in the Forum in the fall, he will be available throughout the day in a series of smaller events.

In The Great Derangement, Ghosh tackles the conceptual problem of imagining climate change, especially as it pertains to one of the dominant art forms of the modern era, the novel. As a novelist himself, Ghosh works through the difficulties of conveying something as catastrophic and global, yet incremental, as climate change is, in a form largely defined by its emphasis on the everyday individual and his or her moral challenges. While much of his focus is on the failure of serious novelists to depict climate change, he offers a broad and sometimes controversial account of how climate change is related to imperialism, to modern ideas of individual liberty and free will, and to our understanding of history and time. Grounding his discussion in his own life and alluding to his fictional works, Ghosh attempts to imagine how we might think the unthinkable and awake ourselves from a current state of communal and individual derangement in regards not only to climate change but also to our overall relationship with the earth and its resources. 

In the first six weeks of the fall semester, every incoming Honors College student will be required to register for, attend, and participate in a small discussion session on the book led by a staff or faculty member. The schedule of possible sessions, offered on a variety of days and times, will be posted closer to the beginning of the semester.


Author's Biography

Photo of Amitav Ghosh ( Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016.

The Circle of Reason was awarded France’s Prix Médicis in 1990, and The Shadow Lines won two prestigious Indian prizes the same year, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the International e-Book Award at the Frankfurt book fair in 2001. In January 2005 The Hungry Tide was awarded the Crossword Book Prize, a major Indian award. His novel, Sea of Poppies (2008) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2008 and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award.

Amitav Ghosh's work has been translated into more than thirty languages and he has served on the juries of the Locarno and Venice film festivals. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic and The New York Times. They have been anthologized under the titles The Imam and the Indian (Penguin Random House India) and Incendiary Circumstances (Houghton Mifflin, USA). The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016 and was given the inaugural Utah Award for the Environmental Humanities in 2018.

Amitav Ghosh holds two Lifetime Achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India's highest honors, by the President of India. In 2010 he was a joint winner, along with Margaret Atwood of a Dan David prize, and 2011 he was awarded the Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis festival in Montreal. In 2018 the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor, was conferred on Amitav Ghosh. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.

Amitav Ghosh's most recent novel, Gun Island, is due to be published in 2019.



Previous Readings

2018 | Enlightenment Now by Dr. Steven Pinker

2017 | Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous

2016 | Spare Parts by Joshua Davis

2015 | To Repair the World by Dr. Paul Farmer



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