Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for New Students | FAQs for Faculty & Staff

Download the flyer for the Montclair Book 2012 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (A Common reading experience for first-year students)

FAQs for New Students

What is Montclair Book 2012?
Which book was chosen?
Where do I get the book?
When should I read it?
How will I use this book?
What resources are available to students?

What is Montclair Book 2012?

Montclair Book 2012 is a program for the Montclair State community, jointly sponsored by the Center for Writing Excellence, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the First-Year Writing Program, and Student Development and Campus Life. Each year, a faculty advisory committee selects a book to be read by all incoming first-year students before they arrive. The program began in 2011. The goals for this new program are to—

  • Provide a common intellectual experience
  • Engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and debate
  • Build community around a shared understanding of relevant issues
  • Celebrate the written word
  • Offer opportunities for students to reflect on their roles as readers and learners
  • Encourage campuswide engagement with the book’s theme

Which book was chosen?

For our 2012 selection, the faculty advisory committee chose The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Here is an
excerpt from the book:

There’s a photo on my wall of a woman I’ve never met, its left corner torn and patched together with tape. She looks straight into the camera and smiles, hands on hips, dress suit neatly pressed, lips painted deep red. It’s the late 1940s and she hasn’t yet reached the age of thirty. Her light brown skin is smooth, her eyes still young and playful, oblivious to the tumor growing inside her—a tumor that would leave her five children motherless and change the future of medicine. Beneath the photo, a caption says her name is “Henrietta Lacks, Helen Lane or Helen Larson.”

No one knows who took that picture, but it’s appeared hundreds of times in magazines and science textbooks, on blogs and laboratory walls. She’s usually identified as Helen Lane, but often she has no name at all. She’s simply called HeLa, the code name given to the world’s first immortal human cells…

Where do I get the book?

The book is available in the Montclair State bookstore beginning in April. Click here for information.

When should I read it?

Your first assignment for college is to read the book this summer, before you come to campus for the fall semester. Begin early, and pace yourself.

How will I use this book?

Several ways. Here are some examples:

  • Discussions in your first-year seminar and other courses
  • Theme-related events on campus
  • Residence hall activities
  • Keynote speaker
  • Essay contest
  • Placement into First-Year Writing classes (you will write an essay based on the book)

What resources are available to students?

See links to author information, book reviews, interviews, articles, and websites on the Montclair Book 2012 "Resources" page. Your instructors in courses using Montclair Book may also provide you with additional resources.

FAQs for Faculty & Staff

What is Montclair Book 2012?
Which book was chosen?
Who selected the book and how was it selected?
Where do students, faculty, and staff get the book?
When should students read it?
How will the book be used?
Who is sponsoring Montclair Book 2011?
Who can answer my questions?  What if I have suggestions for this program?
What resources are available to faculty and staff?

What is Montclair Book 2012?

Montclair Book 2012 is a program for the Montclair State community.  Each year, a faculty advisory committee selects a book to be read by all incoming first-year students before they arrive.  The goals of this program are to—

  • Provide a common intellectual experience
  • Engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and debate
  • Build community around a shared understanding of relevant issues
  • Celebrate the written word
  • Offer opportunities for students to reflect on their roles as readers and learners
  • Encourage campuswide engagement with the book’s theme

Which book was chosen?

For our 2012 selection, the faculty advisory committee chose The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Here is an
excerpt from the book:

There’s a photo on my wall of a woman I’ve never met, its left corner torn and patched together with tape. She looks straight into the camera and smiles, hands on hips, dress suit neatly pressed, lips painted deep red. It’s the late 1940s and she hasn’t yet reached the age of thirty. Her light brown skin is smooth, her eyes still young and playful, oblivious to the tumor growing inside her—a tumor that would leave her five children motherless and change the future of medicine. Beneath the photo, a caption says her name is “Henrietta Lacks, Helen Lane or Helen Larson.”

No one knows who took that picture, but it’s appeared hundreds of times in magazines and science textbooks, on blogs and laboratory walls. She’s usually identified as Helen Lane, but often she has no name at all. She’s simply called HeLa, the code name given to the world’s first immortal human cells…

More information about the book can be found on the author’s website:
http://rebeccaskloot.com/

Who selected the book and how was it selected?

Dean Morrissey of CHSS formed the Montclair Book Faculty Advisory Committee, which included the following members:

  • Yasemin Besen-Cassino, Associate Professor of Sociology
  • Alan Cottrell, Associate Dean
  • Raul Galoppe, Associate Professor of Spanish and Italian and Program Coordinator of GLBTQ Studies
  • Emily Isaacs, Associate Professor of English and Director of First-Year Writing
  • Judith Lin Hunt, Dean of Library Services
  • Rita Jacobs, Professor of English
  • Melinda Knight, Professor of English and Director of the Center for Writing Excellence
  • Christine Lemesianou, Associate Professor, Communication Studies
  • Kirk McDermid, Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religion
  • Dana Wilber, Associate Professor, Early Childhood, Elementary Education, and Literacy Education
  • Leslie Wilson, Professor of History

Committee members engaged in their own reading program and reviewed some twenty titles.  After meeting throughout the fall and deciding on four finalists, the committee selected The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  The committee believes the book is an inspired choice because, like the 2011 book (The Geography of Bliss), this 2012 book will reinforce Montclair State’s global learning objectives, provide opportunities for students to learn about other cultures and explore differences, give faculty ways to approach a particular text from multiple disciplinary perspectives, and enhance our reputation for innovation.

In making a selection, the committee relied on the following criteria:
The book should--

  • be nonfiction and fairly recent
  • be well-written and readable
  • engage first-year students and introduce them to college-level processes of inquiry
  • have the potential for building community through a common reading experience
  • be teachable in a variety of settings
  • foster intellectual growth and reflection
  • lend itself to campuswide events and activities

Where do students, faculty, and staff get the book?

The book will be available to students in the Montclair State bookstore beginning in April.  For faculty and staff the university will provide desk copies. 

When should students read it?

Students should read the book during the summer, before they come to campus for the fall semester, and they will be prompted to do so through several pre-matriculation events and activities.

How will the book be used?

Several ways. Here are some examples:

  • Discussions in first-year seminars and other courses
  • Theme-related events on campus
  • Residence hall activities
  • Keynote speaker
  • Essay contest
  • Placement into First-Year Writing classes  (students will write an essay based on the book)

Who is sponsoring Montclair Book?

Montclair Book is a joint effort of the Center for Writing Excellence, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the First-Year Writing Program, and Student Development and Campus Life.

Who can answer my questions?  What if I have suggestions for this program?

Contact members of the Montclair Book Committee:

What resources are available to faculty and staff?

See links to author information, book reviews, interviews, articles, websites, and teaching guides on the Montclair Book 2012 "Resources" page.

Montclair Book 2012 Flyer PDF