A Greek tragedy with contemporary themes is this year's 'must
By Franklin Crawford
Sophocles' tragic play Antigone may not be on The New York Times' suggested summer reading list, but it is
required reading for more than 3,500 incoming Cornell freshmen as part of the university's First Year
Reading Project for fall 2003.
"I am delighted by the selection of Sophocles' Antigone as Cornell's freshman text for next fall," said
President Hunter Rawlings, who, following his retirement from the presidency later this year, will return to
teach in Cornell's classics department. "Our freshman book project has already attained the status of a
Cornell tradition after only two years, and the Antigone is certain to add intellectual excitement to this
program, which has proven to be popular with both students and faculty members."
Antigone was selected from a number of possible works because "it is a timeless text that raises timely
issues," said Vice Provost Isaac Kramnick, "and it also serves as a tribute and an honor to Hunter Rawlings'
eight years as Cornell's president."
The 2003 First Year Reading Project will be part of the freshman orientation program, modeled on last
year's success with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the inaugural reading project in 2001 of Jared
Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. Incoming students will be sent copies of the book this summer and will
engage in faculty-led discussions during their first week at Cornell and in many freshman writing seminars.
Members of the Cornell community also are invited to read the play. Kramnick said the town-gown
connection established through the Frankenstein reading project last year will continue. The Tompkins
County Public Library and Ithaca's high schools will join in with book groups and readings of Antigone, and
other town-gown events may follow.
Together with their entering classmates, professors and continuing students, new Cornell students will
discuss, criticize and evaluate the play at required campus events during the university's orientation week