The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Hornby book incites discussion

Yesterday SMU hosted a panel discussion of the 2007 common reading selection, “How to Be Good,” the latest pop-fiction novel by English author Nick Hornby, in an effort to promote intellectual discourse on the topic of goodness.

The event was moderated by Dr. David Doyle, the director of the University Honors Program.

Most of the dialogue focused on ways of becoming good, the difference between a good person and a good action, and whether or not a good action performed with a bad intention can still be considered good.

While trying to stay as accessible to the student body as possible, the discussion couldn’t help but converge on some heavy philosophical inquiries.

“Self-reflection is really the best we can hope to do – there is no one way to be good, we all just sort of make our way,” said distinguished panelist Janis-Bergman-Cartman. “All of the sources of Katie’s (the main character) unhappiness culminate in the revelation that she is dead inside,” she seemed to articulate one of the main points of consensus within the panel.

One element of the discussion’s format that was well-received by students in attendance was the open mic, which allowed students to express their viewpoints and engage the panelists with some thought-provoking questions.

One student spoke of her disappointment with the novel’s rather abrupt ending, an opinion that seemed to cut right to the heart of the discussion. Faculty member Bruce Levin said, “There isn’t an ending to the story in a sense. Certainly it appears very bleak but it is exactly the lack of resolution that is at peace with the entire novel. As humans, we crave resolutions but we don’t always get them. It’s not always that simple.”

Other noteworthy panelists included Tom Mayo, director of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, and Linda Hall, the executive director of Dallas’ Interfaith Housing Coalition.

“Going to the panel was great fun,” said first-year Grace Barlow. “Dr. Doyle is the best host since Pat Sajak.”

Hornby is the author of several popular novels, including “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy.”

The common reading program is now an established tradition at SMU. Students new to SMU received the book during the summer at AARO and read it before they arrived for the start of the fall semester, according to SMU’s Web site.

The goal behind the selection of “How to Be Good”-and of the Common Reading Program as a whole-is to engage the SMU community in the kinds of discussions that will prepare the university’s newest students for the rigors and delights of the life of the mind.

The program was held in the Hughes-Trigg theater.

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