Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play ‘Doubt’ Is Text for Class of 2016’s Penn Reading Project

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Media Contact:Julie McWilliams | juliemcw@upenn.edu | 215-898-1422July 31, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt has been selected as the text for the University of Pennsylvania’s 2012-13 Penn Reading Project.

After reading the play before coming to campus, first-year undergaduates will join faculty leaders in small groups to discuss the book during the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 2, as part of New Student Orientation.  Also that morning, Shanley will join in a preparation session for PRP participants that will include staged readings of selected scenes featuring members of Penn’s Theatre Arts Program.

The play, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for drama, explores the conflict between a popular young parish priest teaching in a high school and the school's principal, a nun who believes him guilty of misconduct though she has little evidence.  

The Penn Reading Project, now entering its 22nd year, was created as an introduction for incoming freshmen to academic life at Penn.  Recent reading assignments have included Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken, Rose George's The Big Necessity, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography

With its provocative questions about faith, evidence and instinct, Doubt will kick off 2012-13 as Penn’s Year of Proof. During each of the past several years, the University has declared an academic theme that debuts with the PRP selection and then is reflected throughout the year in workshops, lectures, seminars and other activities.

“The Year of Proof,” said David Fox, director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, “is an opportunity for Penn’s schools and academic centers to consider how proof is established, in topics ranging from medical diagnoses to the verification of authorship to questions of historical performance practice. How do we know what Beethoven really meant by ‘allegro?’  There are areas where proof may be absolute, as well as its more ambiguous definition in legal and political discourse.”

Faculty members interested in becoming PRP discussion leaders can sign up at www.rescomp.upenn.edu/prpleaders.  Returning discussion leaders are asked to update their information and indicate if they plan to participate in this year’s prep session and lectures.

Additional information is available at www.yearofproof.org or by contacting Fox at dfox@upenn.edu  or 215-573-5636.    

PRP is a project of the Office of the Provost, the Council of Undergraduate Deans and the Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives.