Project Wake

Identity and Community

Wake Forest has a long tradition of engaging in a summer academic project on an issue of intellectual and social importance.  The tradition includes setting aside time during New Deac Week for students to engage with a faculty or staff member on this issue.  It is a favorite New Deac Week activity. For 2020, the Project Wake theme is “Identity and Community.”

College is a time where you will experience significant individual growth, all the while figuring out how to be a member of your home community and your new Wake Forest community. This experience may not always be harmonious or intuitive, and it often requires vulnerability, resilience, and empathy. Join your fellow classmates in Project Wake 2020 to examine what identity and belonging to a community means by engaging with literature. 

As a participant in Project Wake, you will be asked to consider ways that you bring a unique perspective in developing a broader community. You will be asked to consider how your own identity development and values may shape how you interact with others and build community.  What unique attributes do you bring to broader experiences that we share at many different levels? For example, you are one of many students with the shared experience of beginning your studies at Wake Forest this fall; what related challenges, excitement and concerns do you bring with you? At a much broader level, as a worldwide community we have experienced challenges of pandemic response with shared and individual perspectives within our communities. What ways did community provide support to you during that experience and in what ways did you find challenges related to community? 

Project Wake will give you the opportunity to explore these and other questions about maintaining your individuality while being a member of a variety of communities.  A work of literature that interests you will serve as the launch point for these conversations.  The questions of what community is, the benefits and responsibilities associated with being a member of various communities, and how to ensure that we thrive as individuals AND community members are relevant to the decisions you will make daily as you embark on this college journey.

You may choose among books from many different genres and disciplines, which will lead you to a group that shares your interests and concerns. These group conversations have proven to be an exciting and meaningful way to make new friends and discuss issues that matter.


Phone: 336.758.3320
Fax: 336.758.4548

P.O. Box 7225, Winston-Salem, NC 27109


Sunday, August 23

1:30 – 3 p.m.

Sign Up Now

More About Project Wake

    2020 Book Listing - Learn more about each book and discussion leader below:

  • All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchel

    Discussion Leader: Mary Katherine Newsome

    All Out - CoverThis anthology is a collection of diverse LGBTQ+ historical fiction short stories that explore queer youth across cultures, time periods, and identities. You’ll read some genre-bending retellings of fairy tales and folk figures, fall in love with characters as they fall in love on the page, and rediscover the buried truth of history–that the queer community has been a part of it all along! We’ll talk about our favorite stories among the collection, explore the power of representation, learn about the real history behind the fiction, and discuss the importance of intersectionality.

    I am the CARE Team Case Manager in the Dean of Students Office. I work with students who are in need of support and help connect them with resources on campus tailored to their specific circumstances. As a queer professional and licensed clinical mental health counselor, I am passionate about diverse representation in fiction, and seeing both ourselves and learning about others on the page. I hope you’ll join me!

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Jake Ruddiman

    Autobiography-of-Benjamin-Franklin-CoverCome explore Ben Franklin’s amazing story of how he organized Philadelphia’s diverse and fractious communities for the betterment of all. His autobiography, which helped invent the genre, offers a how-to guide for self-improvement, political maneuvering, and project leadership. It’s also hilarious and heart-warming. He wrote this as a guide for his son William; his encouraging advice is perfect for you at this key moment in your lives! 

    I am a professor of early American history. I study the American Revolution and its book-ends in the colonial period and early republic. My first book explores young men as soldiers in the War for Independence. My current research projects include slavery in the Revolutionary War, General Nathanael Greene, James Monroe as a young soldier, and the Moravians of Salem in the war.

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Alan Brown

    Bear Town-CoverBeartown by Fredrik Backman examines the social culture of competitive sports in a small Swedish community where youth ice hockey is the main source of pride. During our discussion, we will take a critical look at how Beartown’s values and community are formed, perceived, and exploited through sports, as a relentless pursuit of glory inevitably nurtures a destructive culture of silence when the principles that community members encourage and those they permit become hard to differentiate.

    I am an Associate Professor of English Education and Chair of the Department of Education. A former high school English teacher and basketball coach, I teach courses on topics including academics and athletics in K-12 schools, adolescent literacy, arts integration, English methods, and young adult literature. My scholarly interests include working with secondary and college students as well as middle and high school teachers and athletic coaches to critically examine the culture of sports in schools and society while connecting contemporary literacies to students’ extra-curricular interests.

  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Discussion Leader: Hannah Lafferrandre

    Big Magic Cover“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” is the central question when it comes to actualizing one’s creative potential, says Eat Pray Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert. In this book she shares her own creative journey as well as the ideas that animate her life including “stubborn gladness” and the difference between originality and authenticity in art and life. In line with the “Identity and Community” theme, Gilbert emphasizes the role of finding and investing in a community to build a sustainable creative practice, as well as the unique capacity of creativity to uncover one’s truest self. Gilbert’s reverence for the simple “making of things” inspires readers to use their minds and bodies to make something that hasn’t yet existed. 

    I am the Fellow in the Program for Leadership and Character and a recent graduate from Wake Forest University where I studied English, creative writing, and entrepreneurship. I am deeply interested in how the process of making art develops our personal character and lays the groundwork for virtues like courage, empathy, and gratitude. Looking forward to this discussion about creativity, character, and how they can uphold our senses of identity and community! 

  • Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Nikki Elston

    Boys of AlabamaNew to the South? So is Max, a German teenager with supernatural powers who moves to Alabama and quickly falls in love.  Eager to assimilate he joins the football team, learns how to shoot a gun, questions his faith, and works hard to suppress feelings for his friend, Pan, an outsider that is far from the football type.  Max is intrigued by the new customs and rituals of his new home, but he’s unsure how much of his past and present he can reveal to his new friends in the South.  This book is about learning how to be comfortable in your own skin, how we often work so hard to hide who we are, and how to find a community that accepts us just as we are.  

    I’m an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Counseling.  I’m a licensed professional counselor and I am an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) trainer. I teach classes in our Health and Human Services minor and our master’s program. I also serve as a lower-division advisor.   

  • Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020 documentary, directed by Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht)

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Michaelle Browers

    Crip Camp CoverThis documentary film offers a compelling testament to the power of young adults’ experience of community to shape the course of their lives and build a new culture for an entire country. In many respects, the cohabitation experiences of the individuals who came together for summer camps in the Catskills during the 1970s–individuals living independently, away from their families for the first time–is similar to a university living experience (though perhaps without quite so much social distancing as we are currently experiencing). The campers featured in the film go on to form the core of the fight for disability rights in the United States. Where will the relationships that you build and that will form you during your years at Wake Forest take you?

    I am a professor and chair of Politics and International Affairs. I teach a variety of courses in political theory, including feminist political thought (where my students viewed this film this past spring); Arab and Islamic political thought; Marx, Marxism and post-Marxism; politics and identity; and democratic theory. I research and write about various aspects of Arab and Islamic politics. I was drawn to this film not only because it resonated so well with my students last semester and demonstrates a compelling intersection of disability studies and theories of gender and sexuality, but also because at the time of the events depicted in the film, I was attending an elementary school that had a large population of students with disabilities. Watching the film, I realized how formative that experience was for me–beyond the fact that I can still recite the pledge of allegiance and a handful of common children’s songs in American sign language.

  • Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich

    Discussion Leader: Brian Warren

    Dancing in the Streets CoverIn her thought-provoking book, social commentator Barbara Ehrenreich examines the human impulse toward communal celebration as expressed in rites of ecstatic dancing, feasting, and costuming. Her book ranges widely through human history and global culture, touching on the ancient Greek worship of the god Dionysus, the medieval European traditions of carnival, the preservation of communal rituals in the African diaspora as a form of resistance to colonialism, and the behavior of crowds at contemporary events such as rock festivals, social protests, and athletic competitions. And perhaps most interestingly, Ehrenreich reflects on the complicated tensions between the demands and requirements of social order—indeed, in our circumstances, we might add, of social distancing—and the human individual’s urge to experience collective joy.

    I am an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Classics and the Program for Interdisciplinary Humanities. I teach courses in Greek, Latin, and Ancient History, as well as a First-Year Seminar called Tragic Love Stories: Ancient and Modern.

  • Educated by Tara Westover

    Discussion Leader:  Raven Scott

    Educated CoverTara Westover’s bestselling memoir is a profound reminder of the ways we carry our communities of origin with us, even as we embark on new educational endeavors. Growing up in an inwardly-focused, survivalist family with rare religious convictions, Westover was taught to fear any education that came from the outside world. This memoir offers themes of what it means to choose formal education when it is not a given, how to listen to our inner voice when it defies our community, and what our identities can offer the communities of learning with which we engage.


    I am an Assistant Director or Programming in the Program for Leadership and Character and a former high school teacher, college coach, and nonprofit director.  I believe in the power of education to change lives and cannot wait to explore those themes through this work! 

  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

    Discussion Leader:  Intercultural Center Staff

    Eloquent Rage CoverEloquent Rage provides a raw glimpse into the life and perspective of Brittney Cooper through the lens of her intersecting identities. There is so much to learn about others and yourself through reading this text and brings up many topics that either promote or are a barrier to building community. This text shares the good, the bad, the magic, the pain, the sometimes nightmare, and the absolute beauty it is to be a black woman in America. It is a necessary read for every black woman and anyone who loves them, works/studies with them, lives with them or walks past them every day without noticing their existence. 

    The Intercultural Center strives to influence campus culture by cultivating intercultural knowledge, competency and leadership. We are committed to enhancing the experience of domestic and international underrepresented groups by offering co-curricular programming, student support and engagement, identity development initiatives and opportunities for comprehensive learning and development for all WFU community members.

  • The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

    Discussion Leaders:  Erin Branch

    The Empathy Exams CoverIn this award-winning essay collection, Leslie Jamison combines investigative journalism with a memoir to probe the functions and limits of empathy. The essays examine topics ranging from the ethics of medical diagnosis to the motivations of ultra-marathoners to Jamison’s own violent encounters in drug-war-ravaged Mexico. Jamison questions whether empathy can help alleviate suffering, or whether it simply reifies and perpetuates the pain it hopes to ease. These essays prompt reflection on the nature of illness, pain, trauma: to what extent do we suffer alone? To what extent is suffering collective and shared? How can shared pain/trauma isolate us, and how might it bring us together? 

    I am an Associate Teaching Professor at Wake Forest, where I teach in and currently direct the Writing Program. My research and teaching interests include women’s rhetorics, the rhetoric of health and medicine, and rhetorical theory. I teach first-year writing courses as well as upper-level courses in rhetorical history and theory. 

  • Evelina by Frances Burney

    Discussion Leader:  Dr. Claudia Kairoff

    Evelina CoverFrances Burney published Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World in 1778. The heroine accompanies a wealthy neighbor and her daughter to London, at a time when such a trip signified a young woman’s availability for marriage (her “entrance into the world”). Evelina has a series of misadventures, some caused by her own naivety and others because she has never been acknowledged by her birth father, which in 1778 meant she has no recognizable social position. Does she belong among the elite? The middle class? Or, in the worst case, can she be pursued as a kept mistress? Burney keeps the novel’s mood light through a large cast of odd characters, but the novel raises serious questions about how a young woman might find her place in “the world,” whether in eighteenth-century Britain or today.

    I am a Professor of English and have taught at Wake Forest since 1986. My academic specialty is eighteenth-century British literature, especially poetry; my research primarily centers on women writers of the period. I am always eager to engage students in a discussion about how eighteenth-century concerns anticipate our own, and how by thinking about political and cultural issues of the 1700s (in Burney’s case, gender issues) can help us navigate those of our twenty-first century. 

  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

    Discussion Leader: D’Najah Pendergrass Thomas

    “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?”

    The Fire Next Time CoverOn the eve of your arrival to campus, summer is hot – literally! Health disparity, gender oppression and violence, socio-economic upheaval, and continued violence and death of black lives. For many reasons, America finds herself in an all too familiar place and this generation, your generation, has been invited to engage. Some of you may feel new to this and overwhelmed. Others may feel like this is a repeated song and dance that is raw, and exhausting. The Fire Next Time, written in 1962(3) – the year of the March on Washington, was originally a letter between Baldwin and his nephew yet somehow this personal and relational writing transformed into a profound piece of literature that shaped the civil rights era. It still speaks with deep relevance to the Black Lives Matter movement of today. Race can be a frightening and unsettling issue to discuss. Nevertheless, it’s an inescapable responsibility that each of us have as members of a community that uplifts “Pro-Humanitate.” I believe that if journey into these letters as we reflect on and discuss our country’s charged history with race then the landscape of our campus – our classroom conversations, residential living communities, social organizations, and leadership spaces will continue to shift into spaces where we not only “see” black flox but also embrace and uplift the fullness of black humanity. Only in doing this vulnerable connecting will we all see ourselves fully, deeply. 

    I am D’Najah Thomas, Associate Director of Residence Life. I serve the students of this community in the residential space because I believe that ‘home’ ought to be the place where every facet of your identity is welcomed, embraced, and lifted up. When I’m not down in Angelou hall, I’m across our state taking pictures of the community and listening to the stories of the people who bring it to life.

  • Flow My Tears, The Police Said by Philip K. Dick

    Discussion Leader:  Dr. William Fleeson

    Flow My Tears CoverThis John W. Campbell Award-winning book, by one of the greatest science fiction writers, explores what happens when a community no longer recognizes your identity. A famous singer wakes up to discover that his identity is completely erased. What happens next?

    I am a professor of Psychology with a special interest in morality, personality, and borderline personality disorder. I love discussing ideas with Wake Forest students!

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Michael Lamb

    Frankenstein-CoverWhat does it mean to be human? How does our engagement with various forms of community shape our identity and character? How might empathy enable us to build relationships with those who seem radically different from us? These questions are at the heart of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel that grapples with fundamental questions about identity, character, and community and highlights, with great intrigue and gripping detail, how identity and character can be formed (or de-formed) by society. Far from its caricature as Hollywood horror, this classic novel prompts searching reflection on what it means to be human and supplies powerful metaphors that have long been used to challenge injustice and extend equality to those who have been denied it. Its profound lessons about humanity, culture, and society should continue to haunt us all. 

    I am an Assistant Professor of Politics, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Humanities and Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character. I teach a First-Year Seminar entitled “Commencing Character: How Should We Live?” and frequently lead discussions related to identity, character, and community. I’m eager to help you transition into your new community at Wake Forest!

  • Good Economics for Hard Times by Ester Duflo and Abhijit V. Banerjee

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Megan Regan

    Good Economics for Hard TimesGood Economics for Hard Times is a down-to-earth diagnosis of current topics in policy debates. The authors, MIT professors Ester Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, are Nobel prize-winning economists whose research uses randomized control trials to understand the intricacies of poverty. In an opportunistic manner, the book attempts to defend the economics profession and explore crucial issues facing humanity: climate change, inequality, trade and migration by “emphasizing there are no iron laws of economics keeping us from building a more humane world.” Among the most important topics of the book is the methodological deconstruction of so-called “fake facts” and their impact on the rise of xenophobia and public policy. 

    I am Megan Regan, a faculty member in the Department of Economics where I teach courses in Economic Development and Introduction to Economics; I also teach in the International Studies program. I graduated from the University of Florida with a PhD in Food and Resource Economics where I also earned my MEd and BSBA in Marketing. My research explores microeconomic aspects of poverty, specifically within Winston-Salem around food systems, urban agriculture and concentrated poverty. 

  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Abbey Bourdon

    “Tell me where you want the man to land, and I’ll tell you where to send him up.”

    Hidden-Figures-Cover-1These words were spoken by the Black female mathematician, Katherine Johnson, to her boss at NASA in the 1950s. The confidence and mathematical prowess expressed in this statement absolutely thrill me as they run entirely counter to many of the messages we’ve internalized about mathematicians. In her powerful book Hidden Figures, Shetterly tells Johnson’s story, along with those of three other Black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the space race: Christine Darden, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan. When we meet, we will identify ways in which race and gender shaped the experiences of these women–many of which are still relevant in the STEM community today.

    I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics in Statistics. My research area is arithmetic geometry (so studying the interesting structure of geometric objects), and this fall, I will be teaching calculus and abstract algebra.

  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Miaohua Jiang

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet CoverThe author intended to just write a modern-day love story, Romeo and Juliet in Seattle, Washington during WWII after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the novel accidentally touches on the topic of identity and community. They were born in the same hospital in Seattle. But the young man’s father made him wear a button “I am Chinese.” Even the author’s own last name contains an unexplained mystery: why did his great-grandfather change his Chinese name to William Ford?

    I am a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics. I am an analyst,  specializing in the theory of chaotic dynamical systems. I came to the US to study mathematics in 1989 and have been living in Winston Salem since 1998.

  • HumanKind by Brad Aronson

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Christa Colyer

    Human Kind CoverHumankind transcends global boundaries, race, gender identity, age, religion, and other classifications that can sometimes divide us.  We are all members of this inclusive community, and author and entrepreneur Brad Aronson shares stories in his book “HumanKind” about how our words and actions can uplift the lives of fellow humans.  We will discuss ways that our individual identities contribute to the richness of humankind, and we will explore opportunities to be agents of human kindness.  In the words of Malala Yousafzai, education activist and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, “Kindness can only be repaid with kindness. It can’t be repaid with expressions like ‘thank you’ and then forgotten.”  Aronson’s book will remind us how to put the “kind” back in “humankind.”

    My name is Christa Colyer, and I am a professor of chemistry. One of the greatest joys of my life is sharing my love of science with students across all disciplines, which I have the opportunity to do when teaching first-year seminars, general chemistry, and analytical chemistry classes. My research focuses on the development of analytical methods for drug testing and the detection of biomolecules, in partnership with private industry and academic institutions in Japan. 

  • The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Michael Shuman

    The Hundred-Food Journey CoverAt first glance, this charming and endearing foodie novel may not seem like an obvious choice for incoming college students exploring identity and their place in community. However, underneath the cinematic descriptions of the smells, sounds, and sights of French and Indian cooking lies the story of how a young, self-taught cook from India develops his identity among the top chef community of French cuisine. I’m really looking forward to a lively discussion about how our values, cultures, and individual desires can both challenge and support identity development within a new community.

    I am the Director of the Learning Assistance Center and Disability Services. My office is committed to providing opportunities for all students to achieve academic success, and we coordinate many of the academic support services, including peer tutoring and academic coaching, that new students find invaluable, as they navigate their college experience at WFU. I also teach a course in the Psychology department aimed at teaching students the skills and approaches that are associated with success in college.

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    Discussion Leaders: Ann Phelps

    The Hunger Games CoverWelcome to Wake Forest, and “may the odds be ever in your favor.” Kidding. While your time in college will inevitably have its challenges, and your incoming class faces unprecedented collective circumstances, there is every reason to believe that it will be more comfortable, edifying, and uplifting than The Hunger Games. Nevertheless, Katniss Everdeen provides an inspiring exemplar for how we navigate new contexts while being shaped by our communities of origin. In strange and difficult times, we might be called upon to become leaders in new ways. Against the backdrop of the life-or-death competition, we are present to Katniss’ grappling with who she is, how she will survive, and who the world needs her to be. Whether in the isolation of pandemic or mass movement in the streets, we all have a role to play in the revolutions happening around us. Will you volunteer as tribute?

    I am just starting my second year at WFU as the Director of Programming in Leadership & Character. I help create events, retreats, discussions, mentorships, and creative experiences for students who strive to become leaders and individuals of character that can leave an impact on our campus and community. 

  • In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong by Amin Maalouf

    Discussion Leader: Mika Payden-Travers

    In the Name of Identity CoverThis summer’s protests across the United States, the mass slaughter of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the burning of Gujarat, the imprisonment and forced “re-education” of the Uyghurs, all these conflicts have the same core. They are battles of identity.

    In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong is a meditation on identity and the role it plays in conflict. Maalouf considers why at different times in our lives a thread will pull loose from the tapestry of our identity and become the only aspect of ourselves that we can see. It comes to define us. It is so important that we will go to jail for it, die for it, kill for it.

    Together we’ll consider the theories Maalouf puts forward about the nature of identity, its role in conflict, and its potential as a path towards connection and reconciliation. We’ll use this lens to look at global and local conflicts and see how it does, or doesn’t, apply.

    My name is Mika Payden-Travers. I planned to be a librarian. A temp job at a nonprofit took me in another direction, and I spent 15 years as a grassroots nonprofit fundraiser working in organizations across the US, as well as in Mexico and Guatemala. Recently my life came full circle, and now I’m the Assistant Director of Development for the ZSR Library. I love commas, dogs, and ideas – though not necessarily in that order.

  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Meredith Farmer and Kennon Later

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl CoverHarriet Jacobs is a woman who was enslaved in Edenton, North Carolina, less than four hours from Wake Forest’s campus. After years of being sexually harassed and physically abused by her owner, she managed to escape, finding her way to freedom—but only after spending seven years hiding in an attic in a space so small, she wasn’t able to stand up.  Eventually, Jacobs managed to write what is widely seen as the most important slave narrative ever written by a woman.  And while, of course, her autobiography is useful for learning about slavery in the cutting and painful, unforgettable ways that a deeply personal first-person narrative can help us learn, it is ultimately Jacobs’ own story or a way of intentionally situating her identity. And yet: this story is not titled A Narrative in the Life of Harriet Jacobs. Instead, it offers Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl. Here Jacobs’ identity is subsumed by the category “slave girl,” which emphasizes both her vulnerability and the degree to which her story could have been so many other people’s stories. Jacobs, in turn, offers an account of her life that is all about community. And she wrote not just to share her story but to present it in a way that would be the most effective in combating slavery. Discussing an autobiography requires readers to think and learn about an author’s various communities, the ways that those communities shape deeply intersectional identities, and the ways that these complex identities become mobilized in texts that are meant to do cultural work and not just tell a story. So following Jacobs’ lead, in discussing this text we will think about not just identity but its representation, or its relationship to categories that are both meaningful and incomplete. 

    My name is Dr. Meredith Farmer. I’m an Assistant Teaching Professor of English and the brand new Department of Environment and Sustainability. As a teacher and scholar my focus is on the nineteenth century in America—and the ways that it shaped our present moment. Most of my published work is on Herman Melville, but my current research and teaching interests are the history of slavery in our community here in Winston-Salem (you can see related student work at and the ways that rhetoric about the environment back in the nineteenth century helped lead to our current climate crisis. 

    My name is Kennon Later. I am a junior here at Wake Forest with an English and psychology double major and philosophy minor. When I am not studying, I enjoy reading, horseback riding, and driving fast cars. I am so excited to welcome you all to campus in the fall! 

  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

    Discussion Leader:  Dr. Megan Rudock

    The Invention of Wings CoverHetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimkes’ daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in search for something better.  This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at one of the most devastating wounds in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

    Megan Rudock is a teaching faculty member in the Chemistry department, with a BS in Chemistry from University of Georgia and a PhD from Wake Forest School of Medicine. She joined the Chemistry faculty in 2011, teaching primarily College Chemistry I, Everyday Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Megan is a Lower-Division Academic Advisor and is the Faculty Director of the Wake Forest Summer Immersion program in Biosciences and Engineering.

  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

    Discussion Leader:  Intercultural Center Staff

    Just-MercyIn Just Mercy, Stevenson writes about the histories of different marginalized groups. He describes the racial history of the United States, from slavery through Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and the modern era. He argues that efforts to oppress and dominate black people have not ended, but have endured through new institutions and social practices. Stevenson describes his own journey of building and understanding community by showing how the relationships he has built and cases he has fought have altered his understanding of kindness, hope, justice and mercy. This text will allow for discussions around the historical and current injustices that disproportionately impact certain identity groups in this country while giving participants the time to reflect on their civic responsibility to have an awareness of and advocate for justice of all people.

    The Intercultural Center strives to influence campus culture by cultivating intercultural knowledge, competency and leadership. We are committed to enhancing the experience of domestic and international underrepresented groups by offering co-curricular programming, student support and engagement, identity development initiatives and opportunities for comprehensive learning and development for all WFU community members. 

  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

    Discussion Leader:  Dr. Rebecca Alexander

    Lab Girl CoverIn Lab Girl, Hope Jahren tells her journey from a girl hanging out in her father’s science lab to becoming a renowned paleobiologist. Along the way she discovers the power of relationships, even those with quirky lab managers who work late into the night and dig in the dirt. She is honest about the struggles of women in STEM and the prestigious institution she left because of how she was treated. We need to consider the “lab” of the title in the broadest sense, as Jahren encourages us to look around at the natural world and make observations about even a single leaf. She intertwines her personal story with that of the roots, leaves, and systems she studies in a way that is both easy to read and profound. 

    I am a Chemistry professor and Associate Dean for Research and Community Engagement. I teach, manage a research lab, and facilitate partnerships in the Winston-Salem community. In my spare time I like to run long distances for shiny objects. I hope to give you a taste of the community that can be formed in a research setting, whether with a single faculty mentor or a whole team of collaborators. 

  • The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah

    Discussion Leader:  Dr. Eranda Jayawickreme

    The Lies that Bind- Rethinking Identity CoverAs a British-born Sri Lankan of mixed Sinhalese/Malayali origin, I’ve spent much of my life thinking about the role of identity, the importance of identity for shaping our sense of self and our obligations, and the challenges of defining oneself solely in terms of specific group memberships. Appiah was an intellectual hero of mine when I was in college, and he provides a wonderful and personal account of how we should think about identity, why it’s important, and how we can both accept the importance of the social identities that shape who we are, and work together with others for the common good. I had the opportunity to both read this book and see Appiah speak about it at WFU last year, and I think his cosmopolitan perspective (which I’m very sympathetic to) has a lot to offer us. 

    My name is Eranda Jayawickreme, and I’m a professor in the psychology department. I teach classes and do research on well-being, resilience and morality. In my spare time, I cook large quantities of Sri Lankan food, spend time with my family, and try not to take myself too seriously. 

  • The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah

    Discussion Leader:  Prof. Véronique McNelly

    The Lies that Bind- Rethinking Identity CoverWho and what am I?  Appiah’s compelling first-person narrative begins with his own multicultural, multinational experiences as he considers why collective identities (nationality, class, religion, culture, race, gender) matter.  Appiah discusses the origins of categories of social identification and how social obligations and expectations within certain communities shape not only our sense of self, but also how others perceive and treat us.  Appiah argues that although such identities enable us to be members of communities that are richly complex and protean, thinking of people as members of collectives can lead to erroneous and harmful assumptions.  What matters most is our common humanity, “an identity that should bind us all.”  

    I am Véronique McNelly and I teach in the Department of French Studies. I have a special interest in francophone West African and Caribbean literature.  I look forward to reading Appiah with you.  He has written a great deal on identity and has much to say on the importance of working together across communities.

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    Discussion Leaders: Dr. Jacqueline Friedman and Kayla Willis

    Little Fires Everywhere CoverLittle Fires Everywhere starts at the end: with a destructive fire that tears through a comfortable Suburban home leaving material (and psychological) loss of safety in its wake. But the real story picks up in the year prior to the fire, where issues of race, identity, and privilege are woven into the lives of the teenage children of the Warren and Richardson families as the author explores through multiple perspectives a key question of what defines us and makes us who we are. The intersection of identity and community, both at the familial and at the broader societal level, are key themes in this novel.

    I’m Dr. Jackie Friedman, a Clinical Psychologist by training who works in the Learning Assistance Center and Disability Services. I have taught classes in the Psychology Department at Wake (and still do from time to time) but mainly I work with students to learn strategies for test anxiety, time management and helping students needing academic accommodations due to a diagnosed disability. What drew me to this particular book were the varying perspectives and internal motivations of the characters throughout, challenging assumptions of the characters and ultimately the reader. I’m delighted to have Kayla Willis join as a student co-leader. 

  • The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Salvon

    Discussion Leaders: Dr. Rowie Kirby-Straker and Sandra McMullen

    The Lonely Londoners CoverIn this work of fiction, published in 1958, Selvon uses an amalgamation of Caribbean dialects to share narratives of West Indians of color settling in London during the mid-20th century. As recently as 2018, members of this group, now known as the Windrush generation, have had their British citizenship and identity questioned, reigniting feelings of alienation. While college life for most will not easily compare to the harrowing experiences of the book’s characters, new Deacs can be inspired by the strength and resilience of the Lonely Londoners, as they too navigate identity and community in their new home.

    Dr. Rowie Kirby-Straker is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Communication who enjoys interacting with students, including those who take the Public Speaking course or serve in the Wake Speaks Speaking Center. She read this book as a child and sees its themes starkly reflected in today’s world. She looks forward to reviewing it with fresh eyes and to discussing its relevance with you and her colleague Sandra McMullen.

    Sandra is the Assistant Director for Global Campus Programs in the Center for Global Programs & Studies where she oversees initiatives to help students expand their ability to be culturally-agile, empathetic and globally-minded. She recently completed her Master of Arts program, during which Dr. Kirby-Straker was one of her professors.

  • Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

    Discussion Leaders: Dr. Angela Mazaris (they/them) and Kayla Lisenby-Denson (they/she)

    Mostly Dead Things Covercn: suicide “What does it take to come back to life? For Jessa-Lynn Morton, the question is not an abstract one. In the wake of her father’s suicide, Jessa has stepped up to manage his failing taxidermy business while the rest of the Morton family crumbles. Her mother starts sneaking into the taxidermy shop to make provocative animal art, while her brother, Milo, withdraws. And Brynn, Milo’s wife—and the only person Jessa’s ever been in love with—walks out without a word.”* Kristen Arnett’s debut novel, often celebrated as the best queer book of 2019, dives into the complexity of navigating identity in relation to community and across changing contexts, and centers the queer voice in story-telling.

    We (Angela and Kayla) are the professional staff for the LGBTQ+ Center at WFU. Angela is the founding Director for the Center and has been here since 2011; Kayla is currently the Associate Director and has been at Wake since 2015. Angela also serves as the Assistant Vice President for Equitable Policy in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. We are both unapologetically queer and passionate about creating a Wake Forest that is welcoming and inclusive for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. 

  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

    Discussion Leader:  Dylan Brown

    The Nickel Boys CoverIn this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Colson Whitehead dramatizes the brutal history of a reform school in Florida. As Martin Luther King Jr. preaches his ethic of nonviolence during the Civil Rights Movement, Elwood Curtis, a studious high school senior with college aspirations, passionately affirms the reverend’s call for peace, justice, and forgiveness. When Curtis is sentenced to a juvenile reform school, his optimism clashes with the reform school’s mission to create “honorable and honest men” through a rigorous “moral training.” Curtis navigates the brutal horrors of this school as he fights to embody King’s ethic, “throw us in jail and we will still love you.” Curtis befriends a fellow student named Jack Turner who shows Curtis how his naïve moral optimism may only lead to death. As America fights against police brutality and racial injustice, it is both timely and necessary to wrestle with the tension between the hopeful optimism of future racial justice and the lived experience of past and present racial terror.

    I am the Research Fellow in the Program for Leadership and Character. I graduated from Wake Forest University this past May with a B.A in Philosophy. My research interests include forgiveness as a virtue and the intersection of virtue and applied ethics. I am excited to have an engaging discussion on how our identities and communities help inform our character and moral outlooks. 

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

    Discussion Leader:  Amanda Jones (she/hers)

    “God is neither good, nor evil, neither loving nor hating. God is Power. God is Change. We must find the rest of what we need within ourselves, in one another, in our Destiny.”

    Parable of the Sower CoverLauren Olamina is a 15-year-old living in a gated community while the structures of society in the USA are crumbling. After a disaster, she must leave the confines of the community. In her journey through a chaotic landscape, she centers herself on strategic relationships, personal empowerment and learning. She recruits followers and draws them toward a new place and new vision of society. Along the way she writes a new scripture, calling it Earthseed. How do we learn and work when we are terrified and exhausted? A successful approach to that question requires both an investment in ourselves and those around us. Parable of the Sower is a strikingly relevant book to the realities of today. Through Lauren Olemina and the beautiful and sharply intelligent writing of Octavia Butler, Parable will give us an excellent space to discuss survival through stressful times and radical change. Content warning: Rape and violence.

    I teach organic chemistry. I love organic chemistry. I also love reading. I am at home in my lab as I am in the library. There are certain books I return to that, quite simply, inspire me and reinvigorate my sense in the absolute value and necessity of learning and reflection. The words in these books quiet the sometimes overwhelming messages of chaos and fear. Parable of the Sower is one of those books and I am looking forward to sharing it with you.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    Discussion Leader: Tracy Ebert

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower CoverAfter his friend commits suicide, smart misfit Charlie is trying to learn to “participate” in life. He befriends a group of interesting older kids who introduce him to partying but also respect his sensitivity. In letters that Charlie writes to an anonymous stranger, he talks about his family, his friends, and his complicated, often overwhelming, feelings about growing up. Eventually, his longtime crush tells him that he “can’t just sit there and put everybody’s life ahead of yours and think that counts as love,” and he slowly learns to be present in his life.

    Teens who love The Catcher in the Rye will find this to be an excellent sequel of sorts. Charlie shares Holden’s overwhelming sensitivity — and struggles with psychological issues — and readers will find themselves quickly feeling sorry for the protagonist and worrying about him throughout his transformative journey. There’s lots of mature content here, from sexual material to Charlie’s repressed memories of being abused; parents may want to read along with their teens so they can help them with any questions. Alternately, Simon & Schuster has a reading guide that can help them think through some of the plot points and deeper issues.

    I am part of the Department of Education and work as the Education Library and Curriculum Materials Coordinator as well as Education Outreach.  I received my Master’s degree from WFU and love being part of this amazing community.  Working with students is what feeds my soul and I enjoy enlightening discussions that increase understanding and foster a sense of community.

  • Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

    Discussion Leader: Prof. T. H. M. Gellar-Goad and Kate Pearson

    Pleasure Activism- The Politics of Feeling Good CoverCreating community for everyone is hard work, and that work often falls upon the already-marginalized and -overburdened. This book speaks to us all, on how to tie together our personal identities and social-justice community organizing efforts in a way that is pleasurable, from a Black feminism- and science fiction-informed perspective. As encapsulated by a review on Mashable: “Engaging with politics and social justice issues, whether it’s climate change, race, or gender, can feel like work (and it is). [a]drienne maree brown makes the case that you can feel good while doing so … [Pleasure Activism] will challenge you to rethink your approach to changing the world.”

    I’m a professor of Classics and an intersectional feminist scholar, and I’ve been involved in campus antiracist organizing in recent years.  In the past year, I’ve taught Classics Beyond Whiteness and Women, Gender, & Sexuality in Antiquity.  I’m an LGBTQ-inclusive lower-division advisor and teacher.

    Kate Pearson is a sophomore from New Jersey who’s majoring in History with minors in American Ethnic Studies and Politics.  Among other things, she values intersectional practice, community investment, and all things sweet, in that order.

  • TED Talk: The Power of Diversity Within Yourself by Rebeca Hwang

    Discussion Leaders: Dr. Encarna Turner

    TED Talk- The Power of Diversity Within Yourself CoverIn this TED talk we will join Rebeca Hwang in her journey to self-discovery.  She was born in Korea, then migrated to Argentina, and, finally, came to study at MIT in the USA.  She discovers the many layers to diversity within us, and challenges us to look at ourselves in a multi-dimensional way.

    I teach beginning and intermediate Spanish courses, as well as the Spanish for Business sequence. My journey to the US is very similar to Rebeca’s so I totally relate to her self discovery journey.  I love Wake Forest sports, and you can see me regularly at Spry Stadium and the tennis courts.  When I’m not on campus, you can find me shopping or attending country concerts with my 17-year-old daughter, or having a quiet evening at home with my husband and our Havanese puppy, Lexie Mae.

  • Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Jim Settle

    Real Queer America CoverThis is a Lambda Literary finalist book, written by a former Mormon missionary who transitioned to female. The book details visits by the author to places across the middle of the United States – “bible belt” country. The book is a series of seven glimpses into community, identity, belonging, and difference. Each chapter details new experiences with establishing community, finding identity, and making a home where you are. The author is a well-known writer, with an earned Ph.D. from Emory University. 

    I am Jim Settle, Interim Associate Dean of Students. I am from the midwest (Kansas!), and have lived as a member of the LGBTQ+ community while living “in the red states”. I’ve taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at a variety of institutions. I enjoy enlightening discussions of difference, intersectionality, and community development.

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Rebecca Gill

    Shoe Dog CoverShoe Dog is a coming of age story about a young entrepreneur who founded a company that lives in the lives and imaginations of countless athletes, coaches, employees, consumers, and more. This beautifully written account by the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, begins with his search to find himself after graduating from college and his determination, doubt, successes, and failures along the way. Throughout the book, Knight reflects on the role of community in a start-up by factoring his family, founding team, employees, and others into his journey. We will consider questions about how entrepreneurs, founders, and leaders make sense of their journeys and critically consider the mark that they and their initiatives leave upon the world. 

    I am Dr. Rebecca Gill, an Associate Professor of Communication and Entrepreneurship. I have been at Wake for two years, having previously lived in Massachusetts, Montana, Utah, Texas, and New Zealand. I teach courses that address entrepreneurial identity and sense-making; communication and culture in a start-up, tech, and other workplaces; and critical approaches to power, community, and voice. 

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    Discussion Leaders: Dr. Rian Bowie

    Sing Unburied Sing CoverSing, Unburied, Sing is the second novel by Jesmyn to win the National Book Award. This coming-of-age novel traces the afterlives of Mississippi’s long history of racial segregation and violence. Jojo, one of the novel’s main protagonists, is forced to grapple with the state’s racist past when he is haunted by the literal and figurative victims of that violence. The novel reveals both the limits of social progress and the power of speaking the unspeakable to begin the processes of healing and liberation.

    Greetings and welcome to Wake Forest!  I am an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of English. I teach American and African American literature courses. When I am not reading for classes, I am either immersed in science fiction and fantasy books, films, and television series or playing with my dogs, Finn and Zuri.  If you love dogs, look forward to meeting them once it is safe for us to return to campus. They travel with me and love interacting with students.  I look forward to facilitating our discussion of this amazing book.

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

    Discussion Leader: Prof. Benjamin Coates

    Stamped from the Beginning CoverWinner of the National Book Award, Stamped From the Beginning traces the origins, development, and persistence of American racism from the nation’s origins to the present. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, shows how the shaping of identities is central to the process of building communities. Narrow identities have too often created communities of exclusion. As we strive to build an inclusive community at Wake Forest, a fuller understanding of the past can help us confront our troubled present and seek a freer future. (Note: as this is a very long book, we will read and discuss key sections.)


    I’m Ben Coates, and I have been teaching courses on the history of the U.S. and the World at Wake Forest since 2012. I’m excited to hear perspectives from incoming students and learn about how they relate past and present.

  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Betsy Chapman

    The Sun Also Rises CoverThe Sun Also Rises is an exploration of the Lost Generation in Paris and Spain in the 1920s. Set in boozy cafés and sun-drenched bullfights, Hemingway reveals a cast of characters who are grappling with identity and community in a number of ways: what does it mean to be a person living in a foreign land? how do you find your people (whether that is through drunken carousing or through a shared love of a cultural phenomenon such as bullfighting)?; how does one gain membership in the in-group (e.g., people with wealth and coolness) or the out-group (e.g., based on disability, religion, sexual identity, etc.)?

    I am a Wake Forest alumna (‘92 double major English and French, and MA ‘94 in English) and work in Communications and External Relations, primarily with parent & family communications and crisis communications. I write the Daily Deac blog, which gives families (and any interested students!) a snapshot of life on campus, tips and advice, and more. I completed my doctorate in fall 2019, studying the impact of college and university communications on parent and family engagement with their student’s school. I am also a lower-division adviser and love helping students find their academic passion.

  • Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

    Discussion Leader: Meghan Webb

    Talking to Strangers CoverThough many people may not like to admit it, being judgemental appears to be a human characteristic. We do it all the time, whether at parties, at school, or just walking down the street. And if you think you’re good at getting a read on people, you’re wrong. In his latest bestseller, Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell looks at the ways we do harm by failing to understand one another, a problem he investigates through a mix of reporting, research, and case studies*. As you prepare to join the campus community as a new member, an examination of how we interpret and communicate with one another could not feel more timely.

    *while the cases examined in this book are exceptionally eye-opening to distinct social interaction behaviors, they also tackle some heavy, disturbing topics (such as child abuse, sexual assualt, police brutality). 

    I’m Meghan Webb, an Instruction and Outreach Librarian at ZSR Library. In addition to teaching FYS 100: Information, Influence & Neutrality and LIB 100: Academic Research & Information Issues, I develop and lead library programs related to student engagement and instruction. I love working with students and serve as a faculty adviser for the ZSR Library Ambassadors.

  • The Toni Morrison Book Club, Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Claude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Erica Still

    The Toni Morrison Book Club CoverThe Toni Morrison Book Club is an account of four friends who use Toni Morrison novels to examine their own identities and friendships. As a series of essays, the book explores the authors’ life stories and secrets both individually and as they intersect. If you are thinking about how you’ll make friends, how you’ll learn new ideas, how you’ll learn to disagree without losing respect and relationships, how you’ll “be yourself” even as you change and grow,  and/or how literature (of any kind) can be a way of creating community, then this is a book well-worth reading and talking about. 

    I love a good story, and I’m excited for you as you begin the next chapter of your own life. As a professor in the English Department, I teach first-year writing, introductory literature, and upper-level African American literature courses. As an Associate Dean of the College, I focus on supporting diversity and inclusion at Wake Forest. I’m always interested in thinking and talking about what makes for a great story, whether on the page or in the “real” world, so I hope you’ll join me in exploring ideas about community and identity in this compelling set of essays.

  • Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

    Discussion Leaders:  Hu Womack and Mary Dalton

    Turtles-All-the-Way-Down-CoverDid you read “The Fault in our Stars” or “Paper Towns” in high school? Are you a John Green fan? Like all Green’s books, his latest work “Turtles All The Way Down” uses wit and compassion to cast light on serious topics, in this case, the multiple anxiety disorders of our protagonist, Aza, the death of her father, and how these issues all influence how she ultimately defines and finds happiness. That would be enough for most authors, but Green also addresses issues of class, privilege, community, friendship, and character in this book without being preachy or sugar-coating these issues. It’s just an honest and captivating read. 

    I’m Hu Womack, an Instruction and Outreach Librarian in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library and “double deac”. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 1990 with a BA in English and Studio Art. I received my MBA from Wake Forest in 2000 and completed my MLIS degree at UNC-Greensboro in 2008. I’m also a huge John Green fan and can’t wait to talk about this book and the author!

    I’m Mary M. Dalton, a professor in the Department of Communication where I teach courses in critical media studies. I graduated from Wake Forest with  BA in Communication and earned my MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

  • Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

    Discussion Leader:  Professor Susan Rupp

    Unorthodox CoverNetflix released Unorthodox as stay at home orders were being issued across much of the country, and the mini-series went viral as people spent more time watching television.  The series is loosely based on Deborah Feldman’s memoir of the same name, and describes her life in the insular Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and her decision to leave it as a young woman.  In doing so, Feldman had to construct a new life for herself in the secular world where ideas about religion, gender and everyday existence were completely different from those in the world in which she grew up.

    I’m Susan Rupp, and I’ve been a professor in the history department for over twenty-five years, teaching courses in Russian and Soviet history.  Feldman’s experiences are probably very different from our own, but they give us an opportunity to think about how our own identities are shaped by the communities in which we were raised.

  • Water By The Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes

    Discussion Leader:  Dr. J. K. Curry

    Water by the Spoonful CoverThis Pulitzer Prize-winning play explores issues of identity and community among members of a Puerto Rican family. It also offers a timely reexamination of community in its depiction of an online community of recovered drug addicts.  How does joining a new community provides an opportunity to adopt and explore a new identity? What aspects of identity might characters carry with them as they join new communities? What ties and obligations do individuals have to family and to other communities they belong to by birth or choice?

    I am a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance and I love talking about great plays. 

  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Brian Calhoun

    When Breath Becomes Air CoverThis is the second Project Wake that I used this text. With the themes of identity and community at the core of our discussion, this year — being identified as a helper is at the forefront. In the time of COVID-19 – our front line medical personnel and professionals have risen to the task of helping those who have medical ailments and illnesses. We recognize the sacrifice that medical professionals and their families must endure to pursue their calling (identity) and help be the professional healers of their respective communities. The text also looks at medical ethics, mortality, and choice. I look forward to meeting you and discussing the text and what it means to be a helper. 

    I teach in the Department of Education and serve as a faculty fellow in Luter Residence Hall. I am an alum of Wake Forest, and I know how meaningful the first year on campus can be. I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and help with your transition to college.


  • Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Bradley Burroughs

    Where Do We Go From Here CoverAfter a decade of energetic devotion to the Civil Rights Movement and during a time of social upheaval, in 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. reflected both on the struggles that lay in the past and those that lay in the future. In what would become his last book, Dr. King raises crucial questions about who we are, what we owe to one another, and how we can contribute to creating a more just society. Recent world events–such as Black Lives Matter protests and the spread of COVID-19–make it clear that such questions are as pressing as they were when King addressed them. Simultaneously, entering into the Wake Forest community should spur us to think as well about ourselves and those around us, both in the university and beyond. I am excited to think about such questions with you and to consider how King might lead us to think about them differently.

    I am the Assistant Director of Leadership and Character in Religious Life, a position in which I help students from diverse backgrounds reflect upon who they are and who they want to be. When not writing, teaching, or mentoring, I enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and playing basketball.

  • Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Shannon Brady

    Whistling Vivaldi CoverStereotypes pervade our society. But they aren’t just “out in the world”–they can get into the mind and under the skin to affect thoughts, relationships, well-being, and achievement. Whistling Vivaldi challenges us to think about identity on two different levels. On one level, it is the story of Dr. Steele’s research on stereotype threat: a powerful glimpse into how ideas grow from off-hand observations to influential theories over the course of decades. On another level, it is a personal and revealing account of being a black man in America at the turn of the 21st Century. 

    I am an assistant professor of Psychology. When not researching or teaching, I enjoy making delicious things to eat, eating delicious things, being in nature, playing board/card games, traveling, and spending time with my family.

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Sarah Raynor

    White Fragility CoverThis timely book will challenge you to think hard about the role that white people play in our modern racist society.  What responsibility does each and every white person have to fight for an anti-racist society? In what ways does our purported color-blindness protect and preserve the racist system that we all exist in and which benefits all white people every day? What can we do to make ourselves open to the perspectives and experiences of people of color? In what way are we “fragile” and how can we fight that to be more open and vulnerable and able to experience our impact on the world?

    I am Sarah Raynor and I am the chair of the department of mathematics and statistics.  I have been a mathematician and professor at Wake for 16 years.  In my spare time, I enjoy competitive bridge (the card game) as well as many different crafts.

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

    Discussion Leader: Dr. Jason Parsley

    White Fragility CoverI am Jason Parsley, an associate professor of mathematics.  I study geometry and topology, including the mathematical theory of knots; I also examine how geometry affects voting & redistricting.  For fun, I enjoy being active (tennis, basketball, volleyball, hiking) and travel.  I have a goal of visiting all 62 national parks, and I’m about halfway there.

  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

    Discussion Leader: Rosalind Tedford

    Year of Wonders CoverIn 1665 the village of Eyam in England had an outbreak of The Bubonic Plague. They chose, as a community, to self-isolate while the disease ran its course. The villagers agreed they would not leave and neighboring villages brought supplies to them and left them outside the gates. Year of Wonders is a novel based on these events. It’s a beautiful imagining of what happened as they reached that decision and lived through the illness as a community. A short read and not overly heavy, the novel raises such important questions about issues we are still currently living within our society today. I hope you’ll join me! 

    I am Rosalind Tedford, Director for Research and Instruction in the ZSR Library. I have two degrees from WFU (1991 & 1994) and have been working at the library full-time since 1994. I have been a Project Wake discussion leader every year of the program and have found it such a great way to get to know students and discuss a variety of issues!