The Big Read

The English Department and West Lafayette Public Library present our first annual “Big Read,” a celebration designed to link Purdue and Greater Lafayette readers. 

The "Big Read" book for 2017-2018 is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

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“Because survival is insufficient.” Now, when support for the humanities is more important than ever, this motto (From Station Eleven by way of Star Trek) seems appropriate in and out of the world Mandel has created.

Station Eleven is an ideal choice for our inaugural “Big Read.” The work is critically acclaimed: National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist in 2014; and Arthur C. Clarke Award and Toronto Book Award winner in 2015. Although readily classified as science fiction, the book also invites discussion and collaboration with readers of many other genres and interests. The book’s representation of the killer “Georgia flu” lends itself well to discussions by writers and epidemiologists alike, bringing faculty and attendees together in interdisciplinary conversation. The persistence of Shakespeare after the apocalypse triggers questions about great art and an enduring canon of literature, and the book’s traveling troupe of actors could profitably be compared to Elizabethan troupes performing in Shakespeare’s own day, or even contemporary itinerant players, such as the Stone Soup Shakespeare Company, which tours much the same route covered by the players in Station Eleven, our own Midwestern parks and towns.

Activities include:

Purdue Convocations

"Designing Worlds in Science and Fiction” at “Dawn or Doom” 2017, September 27, 9:00 am, Fowler Hall, Stewart Center

Bonus: Purdue students!  Submit to the Dawn or Doom Student Essay Contest!

Purdue Convocations

Presentation of "The World Without Us," April 13 & 14, Loeb Playhouse, 8:00 pm.

Books & Coffee

Join the English Department every Thursday in February for Books & Coffee. 

This year's theme will be science fiction / dystopian / post-apocalyptic books.

Literary Awards

Emily St. John Mandel will be our distinguished guest speaker at the Literary Awards Banquet and Reading on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

For all the "Big Read" sponsored activities and events please visit the 2017-18 Calendar of Events page here.

Curricular Initiatives:

  • Each incoming first-year English major will receive a copy of the book, courtesy of the English Department.
  • The Office of Residential Life at Purdue will promote Station Eleven as a voluntary common read among first-year residents of the Cornerstone.
  • The English Department will provide copies of the novel to the West Lafayette and Tippecanoe Public Libraries.
  • Von’s Book Shop and Main Street Books will sponsor a new “Best Essay on Big Read Book” category at our annual Literary Awards.
  • English Department faculty and teaching assistants are invited to integrate the book into their fall and spring courses.
  • "Dawn or Doom" will acquire books for High School partners.

Special Thanks to Our Partners:

Information Technology at Purdue & “Dawn or Doom”
Ivy Tech Libraries
Main Street Books
Penguin Random House Speaker’s Bureau
Purdue Convocations
Purdue Honors College
Purdue Office of Residential Life
Purdue Student Union Board
Purdue University Libraries
Stone Soup Shakespeare
Tippecanoe Public Libraries
Von’s Bookshop
Wabash Lifetime Learning Association
West Lafayette Public Library
West Lafayette and McCutcheon High Schools
West Lafayette Young Actor’s Workshop


Donate to "Big Read" (or become a sponsor).

Station Eleven reader’s guide (for your own Station Eleven book discussions).

“Museum of Civilization” assignment.  Generate conversation about the things that matter most!

For English TAs teaching Station Eleven in 106 or 108, see the “Composing with Narrative” resources on the ICaP website.

"Big Read" bookmarks.  Perfect for summer reading!

“Big Read” promotional fliers.  Help us get the word out!
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