“Persepolis” chosen for UWM common read

Laurie Marks, director of the Center for Volunteerism and Student Leadership (left), leads a discussion group of first-year students.

This year’s incoming freshmen will have more to talk about than just their classes in the first few weeks of school.

First-year students will take part in the Common Reading Experience  coordinated by the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Student Success Center.

Author Marjane Satrapi uses black and white images to tell a powerful story.

In celebration of the Year of the Arts at UWM, the Student Success Center has chosen a graphic novel, “The Complete Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. All incoming freshmen received a copy of the book during New Student Orientations.

This book was chosen for two reasons, says Ericca Rolland, director of the Student Success Center. The first was to incorporate the visual arts into the common read experience, and the second was to examine the social justice theme that resonates throughout the book.

“The Complete Persepolis” is the story of the young Marjane herself, growing up in Iran at a time when the country was facing political turmoil. It is a glimpse into Iran’s history from the perspective of a young girl who witnessed the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the Islamic revolution and the impact of the war with Iraq.

“The goal of the Common Reading Experience is to connect incoming students with UWM faculty and staff,” says Rolland. “We want to build a strong academic community.”

Students will discuss the book in small groups with faculty and staff during Fall Welcome, Aug. 28-Sept. 7. Over 100 faculty and staff have volunteered to lead 160 discussion groups, says Rolland. The campuswide response has been overwhelmingly positive, she adds.

Select academic courses and Living and Learning Communities will also be discussing the book throughout the semester.

Freshmen will participate in discussion groups throughout Fall Welcome.

Firoozeh Dumas, author of “”Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America,” will open UWM’s 2012-13 Distinguished Lecture Series with a discussion of her own best-selling book and the “Persepolis” common read. Both Firoozeh and Satrapi strive to unveil the “human side of Iran” as they tell their respective stories as young girls during the Iranian political revolution. The event takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. in the UWM Union Wisconsin Room.

The Common Reading Experience will continue into the fall with a screening of “Persepolis,” the 2007 award-winning French animated film based on the book, at the UWM Union Theatre during Family Weekend, Oct. 12-14.