Common Reading Program
Members of the Class of 2027 should read Learning from Failure: Susquehanna University Common Reading Anthology 2023–2024 and complete the summer assignment before arriving on campus (instructions below). Here is a glimpse of some of what you will find in the anthology:
A short fiction piece, “All of Nothing Else Ever. Ever Tried. Ever Failed,” written by SU’s own Dr. Silas Zobal Dent, a Creative Writing professor. Zobal’s piece explores his failure to capture his true emotions and experiences with death through his writing.
A scholarly article by Medina Williams, delving into Elizabeth Holmes’ disastrous Theranos project and the ethical failures that allowed it to happen.
An excerpt from Elsa Sjunneson’s memoir Being Seen, detailing her experiences with internalized and externalized ableism because of her deafblindness.
A book chapter from Stuart Firestein’s Failure: Why Science is So Successful, outlining how failure is integral to the scientific process.
A whimsical poem by Matthew Olzmann, reminding the audience that rodeo clown, water slide tester and tightrope walker are viable career paths in a society that pushes doctors, lawyers and investment bankers.
The Learning from Failure anthology will be mailed home to students over the summer. International students will receive a copy when they arrive on campus.
Instructions for First-Year Students
The Common Reading summer assignment is meant to help you connect with your First Year Seminar professor, your peers and the campus at large. You will turn it into your First Year Seminar (or Global Business Perspectives, Honors Thought, Living Learning Community) instructor at the beginning of the term. All students are also invited to submit their works to the Common Reading Program summer assignment contest. Contest winners will be featured in the Reading and Teaching Guide and receive a prize package with goodies from various clubs and organizations on our campus!
In a short personal narrative, write about a time when you feel like you failed. Maybe you didn’t do as well as you wanted to on a big exam. Maybe you missed a game-winning goal. Maybe you thought that you didn’t live up to someone’s expectations. Reflect on this failure and, using one or more of the texts within the anthology, write about what you learned from this experience. You can use the following questions as a guide or explore other ideas.
Are there certain types of failures that everyone should experience? What knowledge is gained from these failures?
How have you changed because of your experience(s) with failure?
Are there any instances of “failure” that you don’t agree with? Why should we not view them as failures?
As you write, draw connections between your experiences and texts in the anthology and share how your experience(s) with learning from failure are reflected, or not, in this collection.
As you complete this assignment, feel free to tap into your creative side! Your assignment can strive for accuracy or lean toward fiction and exaggeration. It can solely rely on text or could incorporate drawings and photographs. There’s only one catch, you need to be able to turn your assignment in to your instructor, so be sure to save your document as a .docx, .doc, or .pdf.
For examples of how others have completed the summer assignment and instructions on how to enter the Summer Assignment Contest, visit the Reading and Teaching Guide, or follow us on Instagram @sucommonreading.