Reading groups come to Prindle

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Tuesday marks the beginning of a semester-long reading group series hosted by the Prindle Institute. 

Like the Prindle Institute itself, the reading groups seek to create an open forum for discussion on various ethical issues with members of the DePauw community, as well as Greencastle residents.

As with the reading groups in the past, most of this year’s groups will meet once a month throughout the semester. Consisting of 15 to 20 people, the three reading groups are kept small so the discussion can be intimate; however, all the groups currently have less than the desired range of people. 

Christiane Wisehart, the staff coordinator at the Prindle Institute for the reading groups, believes that as the semester progresses, the groups will continue to grow.

It would be a considerable shock if the groups did not grow, she believes. This semester’s groups will be discussing a range of issues from apartheid in South Africa to racial relations in the United States to the Declaration of Independence through the lens of equality.

To start a reading group, professors contact the Prindle Institute with what book they would like to lead a discussion on, and the staff at the Prindle helps them organize the group.

The fall semester’s reading groups will be led by professors David Worthington, David Alvarez and Christopher Hager. 

Worthington will be discussing “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander, which considers race relations within the United States. 

Alvarez will be discussing apartheid in South Africa through the fictional character Michael K. in “The Life and Times of Michael K.” by J.M. Coetzee. 

Lastly, Hager will be leading a discussion on “Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality” by Danielle Allen, which meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The first meeting led by Alvarez will be Sept. 9, and Worthington’s times have yet to be determined.

As this year’s Schaenen Scholar, Hager is excited to be at DePauw and bring insight to the Prindle in leading the discussion on “Our Declaration.”

“I’m looking forward to bringing together people from different disciplines and learning their perspectives on the Declaration of Independence,” Hager said.

Hager also hopes that the group will discuss the issue of freedom and equality, which is a key point that the author Danielle Allen argues about.

“Allen argues in the book that American political culture has come to regard equality and freedom as incompatible–in other words, that to achieve equality for all Americans, some Americans have to give up aspects of their own freedom.  She doesn’t think this is true; she thinks equality is in fact actually essential to freedom,” he said.

He wishes to bring up this issue because it relates to issues that take place on college campuses, such as affirmative action and diversity.

The Prindle Institute’s reading groups will meet throughout the semester. If you are interested in joining one of these groups to learn about and discuss ethical issues, contact Prindle staff coordinator Christiane Wisehart at christianewisehart@depauw.edu. 

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