Purchase College faculty and students are taking the lead in “The Big Read,” a National Endowment for the Arts initiative presented locally by the Westchester Arts Council to restore reading to the center of American culture. In Westchester, the book that is the centerpiece of the program is Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Purchase faculty and students are leading discussions on the book and the film with high school students in Westchester and faculty are running workshops on guiding book discussions.
In September, Aviva Taubenfeld, Assistant Professor of Literature and Writing, ran a workshop for librarians, museum curators and community members at the White Plains Library on how to lead a book discussion.
At the end of the October, she will lead a workshop for Purchase students on how to run a book/film discussion.
On November 7, Professor Taubenfeld and Purchase students will have lunch with AP Literature students and at-risk students in the Great Potential program at Peekskill High School and screen the film version of Their Eyes Were Watching God. The Purchase students will then lead small group discussions on the novel and the film. Professor Taubenfeld had earlier created lessons and assignments for the novel for use by teachers at Peekskill High School.
On November 9, Purchase students will lead a book discussion with community members at the Purchase College Neuberger Museum of Art, followed by a docent-led tour of selections from the “Reframing American Art: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection,” focusing on works by 20th century African-American masters Romare Bearden, Horace Pippin and Jacob Lawrence.
On November 20, Purchase students will lead a discussion on the book in Mount Kisco at a location to be determined.
Also in November, Purchase students will lead a book discussion at the Dobbs Ferry Public Library on a date to be determined.
The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. The Big Read aims to address the rapid decline of literary reading in America by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. The initiative includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature, an ambitious national publicity campaign, and an extensive Web site providing comprehensive information on authors and their works.