The University celebrated the success of the inaugural Nottingham Reading Programme last week, awarding the first prize for the programme’s creative response competition to a lucky History undergraduate.
Sam Lear had been browsing her email inbox during her first week at university when she came across a message that particularly jumped out at her. The subject line read ‘Your FREE copy of The Great Gatsby’.
The email explained that all first year students were able to claim a free copy of The Great Gatsby, join one of a number of reading group sessions to discuss the book and also invited students to come up with their own creative response for the chance to win an iPad Mini.
A special edition print run of the book had been commissioned by the University, with support from Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, Blackwell’s bookshop and a generous donation from University alumnus, Ted Childs OBE (Industrial Economics 1957).
The original idea for the reading programme came from University Registrar, Dr Paul Greatrix, inspired by similar programmes at universities in the USA. The aim behind the programme is to give all new students a common point of reference, to encourage reading for pleasure, discuss the book with like-minded peers and ultimately, to help everyone meet a wider range of students in their first days at university.
Dr Greatrix said: “It did occur to me that it was just a great way of getting people to talk to each other and give them something to do in those first weeks at university, but also that it was a great way to introduce people who might not have read a lot of literature to the idea of reading for pleasure.”
Having studied the text at A Level, Sam was already very familiar with Jay Gatsby but decided claim a free copy from the reception in her halls of residence all the same.
‘When you study a book you can lose your enjoyment for it because you’re picking it apart so it was really nice to revisit it’ said Sam. ‘I used to love reading for enjoyment and it was really nice to have something to focus on at such a hectic time of year’.
Inspired by the pathetic fallacy featured throughout the story, Sam decided to focus on the weather in her prize-winning creative response and produced a travel review for a contemporary newspaper.
Sam was presented with her iPad by Professor Sarah O’Hara, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience and Liz Adcock from Blackwell’s on University Park campus.
Although she chose not to join any of the reading sessions organised as part of the programme, Sam still says that she found that the book, and working on her creative response, sparked a number of conversations with fellow first years.
‘I’d definitely recommend the programme to anyone starting university next year. I was quite nervous about everything and it was something that helped me to make friends in the first few weeks, just by discussing the story and talking about my travel review’.
Following the success of the first year, it is expected that the Nottingham Reading Programme will run again in 2016/17. More details will be made available ahead of the new academic year.
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