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One Book, One Prompt

In the fall of 2016, DU commenced the "One Book, One DU" initiative, a university common reading program for first year students. In response, the Writing Program program generated a common writing project, which eventually became the publication "Many Voices, One DU." The Director of the Writing Program, Doug Hesse, contextualized this in his introduction to "Many Voices, One DU" volume 1: 

"American universities have sponsored one-book programs for a couple decades now, but none of them (at least to my limited knowledge) had gone the step further: asking people on their campuses to write themselves into new texts. That seemed a miss opportunity...While college is certainly a place for transmitting knowledge, it's more focally a place for making it. Textbooks don't spring from vacuums, after all, but rather from the studios, studies, labs, field stations, archives, experiences, observations, analyses, critiques - the minds - of faculty and students. Even after many years of teaching, I still get a kick out of watching students come to realize that their mission as writers wasn't merely to repeat ideas or facts but to make something of them: to contribute to what Kenneth Burke characterizes as the ongoing parlors of knowledge."

Volume 1 of "Many Voices, One DU," published in the spring of 2017, responded to Thomas King's The Truth About Stories. As King noted, "The truth about stories is that that's all we are." We asked writers to reflect on their stories, to explore their backgrounds and identities in an effort to wrestle with the challenges and rewards of building a diverse community.  

Volume 2 (spring 2018) responded to JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. Writers were challenged to think of a person whose story left an impression and to tell that story with generosity and honesty. These stories grapple with heartache and betrayal, loneliness and loss. 

Students, staff, and faculty contributed to both volumes. A related event, "Encountering Stories," celebrated and showcased first-year writers' responses to the One Prompt. We displayed all genres of responses - essays, drawings, videos, oral performances, comic books, and more. 

Writing Program professor Lauren Picard has been integral to the development and production of both "Many Voices" and "Encountering Stories," as have Juli Parrish and Sarah Hart Micke.