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Edward P. Jones, Author of "The Known World" Appears on the College of Charleston Campus

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Uploaded on Nov 22, 2011

The College of Charleston selected "The Known World" by Edward P. Jones as its 2011 The College Reads! book selection. Jones was on campus for a public reading week and book talk on November 1, 2011. He remained on campus on November 2 to engage with students, faculty and staff.

Set in antebellum Virginia, 20 years before the Civil War began, Jones's debut novel examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free black people as well as by whites. Caldonia Townsend is an educated black slaveowner, the widow of a well-loved young farmer named Henry, whose parents had bought their own freedom, and then freed their son, only to watch him buy himself a slave as soon as he had saved enough money. After his death, his slaves wonder if Caldonia will free them. When she fails to do so, but instead breaches the code that keeps them separate from her, a little piece of Manchester County begins to unravel. Published in 2003, The Known World won a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2004.  In 2005, it won the International IMPACT Dublin Literary Award.

"The College Reads! Committee selected this book for a variety of reasons," said Provost George Hynd. "Although this is a work of fiction, the book deals with race in complex ways and will challenge students to confront pre-existing ideas about race, slavery, and human relationships at a time when they also have opportunities to revisit the foundations of the Civil War through events marking the sesquicentennial in 2011."

All incoming first-year students received the book when they were on campus for summer orientation. The book was widely available for continuing students through the library, Liberty cafeteria, and other browsing locations. A pilot project also allowed students to read the ebook by checking out a Kindle from the Library.

The College Reads! is the College of Charleston's common reading program. Each year, The College Reads! engages and connects thousands of students, faculty and staff around a single book to promote the idea that liberally educated people read broadly and discuss with one another ideas arising from the books they share. In 2010, The College Reads! collaborated with the Honors College in founding the Literacy Outreach Initiative.  Two-hundred College of Charleston students worked with nearly 4,000 Charleston County children over a seven-week period using a curriculum designed to promote literacy and model a love of reading.

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