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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Summer Reading 2016

Dear Members of the Class of 2020,

Welcome to the First Year Experience at Skidmore College! 

By now you know that we have selected Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-seller Between the World and Me as the summer reading for your class.  We anticipate that reading and thinking about this book will help prepare you for some of the complex and far-reaching discussions that characterize the liberal arts experience, and that will take place this fall in your Scribner Seminars.  

This website is designed to help you deepen your knowledge—of the author, of the book, and of the relevant issues.  Please immerse yourself in the resources offered here, which include biographical information, interviews with Coates, and reviews and discussions of the book in the media.  Our aim is to prepare you for the deliberate, informed type of reading that will be expected of you at Skidmore. 

The members of the Selection Committee—Professors Sarita Lagalwar (Neuroscience), Maria Lander (World Languages), and Minita Sanghvi (Management & Business)—are also preparing a special FYE event revolving around the Summer Reading.  Scheduled for Monday, September 12th, this program will advance your thinking about Coates’ work even further, and will be part of our extended Orientation activities.   Please see below for details.

Until then, read carefully and thoroughly and ponder the issues raised in Between the World and Me.   We look forward to discussing them with you in the fall.


Professor Janet Casey

Director of the First Year Experience


Books for the entire FYE faculty and first year class have been provided through the generous donation of Jim and Sue Towne in special recognition of Skidmore's second president, Henry T. Moore.


Summer Reading Keynote:

Between the World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates on What It Means to be an American

Emily Bernard, Professor of English and ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies, University of Vermont


Monday, September 12, 2016


Ladd Hall, Arthur Zankel Music Center


Emily Bernard is a Professor of English and ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies. Her first book, Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten (2001), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Some of My Best Friends: Writers on Interracial Friendship (2004) was chosen by the New York Public Library as a Book for the Teen Age, 2006. Her essays have been published in several journals and anthologies, such as The American Scholar, Best American Essays, Best African American Essays, and Best of Creative Non-Fiction. Bernard has received fellowships from the Alphonse A. Fletcher Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. In 2008-9, Bernard was the James Weldon Johnson Senior Research Fellow in Arican American Studies at the Beinecke Library at Yale University. Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, a book she co-authored with Deborah Willis, was published by W.W. Norton in the fall of 2009. Another book, White Shadows: Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance, was published by Yale University Press in 2010.