Common Reading for Fall 2016

During orientation, on Friday, September 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. you will be joining your orientation group and a faculty member to discuss the common reading. The book discussion during orientation is a way to begin creating an intellectual community among your peers and bring new students into discussion around a topic of social, scientific, artistic or political significance. Justice is a value at the core of a Hampshire College education, and this year we have selected Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work to provide a lens into racial and economic justice.

Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1969, and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve to join her parents, who had fled the Duvalier regimes several years earlier. She earned an undergraduate degree in French literature and then an M.F.A, the thesis for which became her celebrated debut novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory. In the last twenty years Danticat has published fiction and nonfiction, all addressing themes of exile, memory, political and racial violence, and the Haitian diaspora. She is the recipient of an American Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. The MacArthur selection committee described Danticat as “chronicling the power of human resistance and endurance through moving and insightful depictions of the Haitian immigrant experience.” Create Dangerously was published in 2010. The book, the title of which was partly inspired by an Albert Camus lecture, combines memoir and essay in exploring themes of art and exile, and the responsibility of the immigrant artist to bear witness to atrocity and violence.

Incoming students will receive a copy of the text by mail in June.

Additional resources for Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

Edwidge Danticat reads from Create Dangerously at the 92nd Street Y

Edwidge Danticat reflects on Create Dangerously in a WGBH Forum

New York Times review of Create Dangerously

NPR podcast of Julia Alvarez discussing Create Dangerously (downloadable audio file)

KQRC podcast of an interview with Edwidge Danticat on Bookworm

Comics Journalism - Life in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake

Library of Congress Federal Research Country Study: Dominican Republic and Haiti (downloadable PDF)

Photo of Michael Richard’s sculpture, Tar Baby vs. Saint Sebastian

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s websites:

Daniel Morel’s photography website (Content warning: Please note that pages of this site contain graphic images of people who were victims of violence that resulted in their injury or death):


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