USF Common Read Experience


Upcoming Events

Events are added throughout the semester so make sure you add them to your calendar and check back frequently for updates. If you have an event you’d like to sponsor as part of the USF Common Reading Experience, you may submit your event here »

Nine Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo

Nov. 12-14 & 19-21, 2015 @ 7:30pm / Nov. 15 & 22, 2015 @ 3pm, Theatre 2

Directed by Andrea Assaf, School of Theater and Dance
CRE NIGHT: Thursday, November 19th
Note: Admission Fee for this event

As topical as today’s newspaper headlines, these rich monologues bring to life nine distinct Iraqi women whose very different stories convey the complex and harrowing reality of being female in modern-day Iraq. The title comes from the teachings of the seventh-century imam Ali ibn Abu Talib: “God created sexual desire in ten parts; then he gave nine parts to women and one part to men.” Their monologues quickly become a series of overlapping conversations leading to a breakdown in communication as the chaos of Iraq intensifies. This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters – Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Learn more

International Festival

Thursday, Nov. 19, 11:00am-2:00pm, MLK Plaza lawn

Office of Multicultural Affairs and USF World
This celebration recognizes the benefits of international education and showcases the vast opportunities students have to engage in global learning experiences. Visit the Common Reading Experience table, international and multicultural clubs, find out more about study abroad, meet international students from more than 100 countries, and explore USF’s international departments and organizations and their offerings. Learn more

Honors College Persepolis Movie Night

Monday, Sept. 28, 6PM, JPH 1317

Join the Honors College for a screening of “Persepolis”, a winner at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Honors Faculty Jeremy Gordon and Catherine Wilkins will be present to discuss the film as well as the book The Complete Persepolis with students.

CRE and the Humanities Institute present: “Why We Tell Our Stories”

Thursday, September 24th, 6PM, Oval Theatre

Speaker: Firoozeh Dumas
Firoozeh Dumas, born in Abadan, Iran, moved to Southern California in the 1970’s with her family. She grew up listening to her father, a former Fullbright Scholar, as he recounted the many colorful stories of his life in both Iran and America. Firoozeh’s books are a gateway to many conversations, including shared humanity, immigration, language, family, and identity. For the past eleven years, Firoozh has traveled the country reminding us that our commonalities far outweigh our differences. Everywhere she has gone, audiences have embraced her message of shared humanity while laughing at her humorous tales.

Persepolis for Historians

Thursday, September 17, 12:30pm – 2pm, SOC 255

On Thursday, September 17, approximately 50 students, faculty, and staff gathered in the history department to talk about Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis, this year’s Common Reading Experience book. The room was packed with many students who are reading this book in their Academic Foundations course. Coming from all different majors and parts of the campus, the students commented on and asked questions about the background and context of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Satrapi’s family, daily life in Iran, youth culture and rebellion, the experience of deciding to wear a veil, and the question of the universality of the story. Students pointed to many of the themes that made the book such an attractive choice for USF and pondered the connections between small acts of personal decision or rebellion and political action. The event was facilitated by Dr. Julia Irwin, Associate Professor of History, an expert on the international history of the Cold War; Dr. Darcie Fontaine, Assistant Professor of History, who specializes in the history of France, North Africa, and the Middle East; and Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Nadia Jones-Gailani, a specialist on Middle Eastern women and refugees.

Common Reading Residence Hall Door Decorating Contest

July 6-10, Juniper Poplar (JPH) and Magnolia Halls (MAA-MAH)

Residential students are encouraged to decorate their doors in response to the CRE book, The Complete Persepolis. Students will have a week to create a door theme inspired by the CRE book, its themes, or the medium of a graphic novel for writing. Entries will be judged and the best doors will receive a prize! Hosted by Housing and Residential Education with the Common Reading Experience.

“First Fifty Days” Books Chats

USF Bookstore Cafe, July 9th and 21st, 4pm

Join students and staff for a conversation about the Common Reading Experience book, The Complete Persepolis. The university-wide Common Reading Experience program seeks to unite students from across disciplines by inviting them to read and discuss together. The Complete Persepolis, a world-renowned graphic novel, is the story of the author’s childhood and coming of age in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. It is the chronicle of a young life entwined with history and global issues.

Lunch & Learn: USF faculty discuss the common read book

July 13 & July 23, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM, Juniper-Poplar Hall (JPH) Juniper Dining

Join faculty and staff members as they discuss USF’s Common Reading Experience book, The Complete Persepolis, over lunch. Contribute to this lively discussion and chat about the book’s themes and how it relates to your own experiences.

Creative Works Showcase

Monday, March 30 – Friday, April 10, 2015 / CENTRE GALLERY – Marshall Student Center


Exhibition and performance of student works of art (visual, music, theatre, dance, video, creative writing) inspired by Full Body Burden, and expressing a point of view about an element of the book – story, mood, theme, era, character(s), etc.

Student performances during the Opening Reception on March 30th and the ART WALK on April 6th. http://www.centregallery.usf.edu/

Art Walk

MONDAY, APRIL 6 from 11am-3:30pm and 7-9pm / Begins at CENTRE GALLERY

Faculty Panel Discussion

Thursday, January 29, 2015 / Grace Allen Room, LIB, 1:00PM – 2:30PM

Panel discussion will include USF faculty discussing the controversial issues and answering important questions raised in the novel Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen. Panelists include:

  • Dr. Thomas Mason, Professor, Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health and Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Brianne Stanback, Instructor and Internship Program Director, School of Aging Studies
  • Dr. Christian Wells, Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Dr. Linda Whiteford, Professor, Department of Anthropology

“Learning to Love the Bomb: Doing Research on the Atomic Frontier”

A Presentation by Dr. Julie Staggers

Thursday, October 2 / Patel Center Auditorium, 3PM-5PM

Like Iversen, Dr. Staggers grew up in the shadow of a significant defense plutonium facility, Hanford, but was unaware that it produced the plutonium for the Trinity test and for Fat Man/Nagasaki bomb. While lots of people she knew — or their parents — worked at Hanford, nobody ever talked about what they did at work. For the most part, nobody even referred to it as Hanford. It was, then and now, generally referred to as “the Area.” For the first twenty years of the Cold War, Hanford workers whose jobs made them security risks lived in a closed company town, owned by the federal government but managed by corporate giants DuPont and General Electric, built especially for these nuclear “secret keepers.” Dr. Staggers’ research traces the development of Hanford’s secrecy culture in the workplace and town, exploring the relationship between secrecy, health risks to workers and civilians, and environmental contamination during the 1940s and 1950s. Her talk will focus on Handford’s secrecy culture and some of the challenges of doing this type of research.

Sponsored by USF First-Year Composition.

SA Book Club

Jennifer Carter, Co-Director, Student Affairs Shared Services Center

Thursday, October 30 / MSC 1306, 11AM – 12PM

Student Affairs is participating in the USF Common Reading Experience: One Book – Global Connections, Full Body Burden by Kristen Iverson. The campus community is engaging in a shared intellectual experience that generates discussions around diverse ideas, experiences, and points of view. Join the conversation.


Author’s Visit & Lecture — Friday, September 26

11:00am – 2:00pm — Morning Session — MSC 2709

Dr. Iversen will meet with First Year Composition (FYC) and Academic FOundations (AF) students and faculty.

2:30pm – 3:30pm — Afternoon Session — ALN 243

Dr. Iversen will meet with a group of Honors College students and faculty.

7:00pm -8:00pm — Author’s Lecture — MSC Ballroom

Dr. Iversen will present highlights from her book, Full Body Burden, and discuss the themes and long-lasting impact of global issues emanating from the nuclear weapons plant operating during the Cold War in Rocky Flats, Colorado. Themes include environmentalism, social activism, politics, physics, journalism, memoirs and recent history.

Movie & Munchies with Faculty

August 23 / 5:00 – 7:00PM

In Maple C Classroom (MPC) near Beta Hall
Meet Faculty in Residence professors Kevin Mackay and Brianne Stanback as they show a documentary film based on Full Body Burden and share their thoughts on Iversen’s book.

August 23 / 6:00 – 8:00PM

In Juniper Poplar Hall Rm.1319
Meet Faculty in Residence professor Justin Brown and Faculty Fellow Shawn Bingham as they show a documentary film based on Full Body Burden and share their thoughts on Iversen’s book.

Discuss the overall themes and impact of the book with USF faculty. Enjoy snacks & refreshments at both locations.

Faculty Panel Discussion on YouTube

September 3 / Juniper-Poplar 1317, 8-10PM

Tune into YouTube to hear reflections on the CRE book by USF faculty!

Faculty Panel Discussion

September 26 / Grace Allen Room 4th Floor Library, 3:00PM

(Philosopher, Cell Biologist, Cultural Anthropologist, Medical Ethicist, Sociologist)

Housing & Residential Education House Calls

September 24 / USF Residence Halls, 6:30PM

Faculty, advisors, and professional staff will be paired with Housing staff to visit the residence halls and engage with residents concerning transition to college and how to succeed in their studies. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” will be one topic of discussion among others during House Calls.

Speaker: Lacks’ Family

September 26 / Oval Theatre, 6:30PM

Meet the Lacks’ family Live! Frontier Forum Q&A Session, hosted by Dean Eisenberg of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Book Talk

September 28 / Marshall Center, 10AM

Fall Family Weekend Book Talk with Associate Deans Janet Moore and Karla Davis-Salazar; provide families the opportunity to learn more about the Common Reading Experience and why it is an important part of the first-year experience.

Faculty Panel Discussion

October 9 / Oval Theatre, 2-4PM

(Biologist, Medical Anthropologist, Ethics Philosopher, Public Health Specialist, Wellness and Student Development Specialist)

Faculty Panel Discussion

November 14 / MSC 2708, 3:30PM

Five or six faculty panelists from diverse areas of expertise will each give a short (5-minute) presentation on the topic “Ethics and the HeLa Cells,” and then will have a roundtable discussion based on questions from the student audience.


Download .pdf

Faculty Panel Discussion

February 11 / MSC 2709 (Marshall Student Center), 2-3:30PM

In honor of Black History Month, we are pleased to announce this Common Reading Experience event cosponsored with Multicultural Affairs: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Six faculty scholars: Richard Pollenz, Heide Castaneda, Kay Perrin, Brook Sadler, Stacy Pearson-Wharton, and Deborah McCarthy, will present a stimulating discussion on critical issues connected with this book that have lasting impacts upon our world. Issues include medical and scientific breakthroughs, human subject research and ethical decision-making — all still happening today.

Download .pdf

Download .pdf

Faculty Panel Discussion

February 26 / MHC 1727 (FMHI Research Library), 11:30-12:30PM

Join faculty from the USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences as they discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks within the context of African American mental, behavioral, and physical health and well-being. Panelists include Tamara A. Baker, Ph.D., Paul Stiles, Ph.D., and Penne Williams, MSW, LCSW.

Refreshments will be provided.

Centre Gallery Exhibition: Henrietta Lacks

March 31 – April 4 / Marshall Center, Centre Gallery

USF undergraduate students in the English Department and the College of the Arts have crafted short stories, poems, and visual art in response to the Library’s 2013-2014 Common Reading Experience text, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Make sure you attend the juried exhibition to see some of these stunning creative works!

  • Opening Reception – March 31 / 12–1PM
  • Closing Reception – April 4 / 7-9PM

Refreshments and desserts served at both receptions.

Rhetoric in Action Day

April 14th & 15th

The First Year Composition (FYC) program supports the common reading experience by utilizing the text as a generative invention tool throughout the semester. Students will begin the semester by thinking critically about the variety of issues raised by the book and writing a response to these issues in a “First Day Diagnostic” writing prompt. At the end of the semester, students will present their final projects publicly in the Marshall Center for “Rhetoric in Action Day.” Many of these projects will have developed from classroom discussions of Common Reader based themes and issues. The book will also be used as a basis for guided discussion, a source for examples related to projects and assignments, and as a common resource for daily classroom activities. Through an exploration of the issues at stake in this narrative and the rhetorical choices made by the author, students will gain an understanding of the impact writing can have on individual lives and broader, global communities.

The Impact: A Photo Journal


The University Experience program has created an online gallery where students can submit photos, artwork, poetry, etc. about the impact of the Henrietta Lacks story on a global or personal level.

This is an ongoing event. The gallery can be viewed anytime at bit.ly/impactCRE2013.

Submissions will be accepted via email (usfueblog@gmail.com). Students are encouraged to browse the gallery before submitting their ideas to ensure that their submission is unique

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