2013 Summer Reading Program

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Medaille Faculty Mary Louise Hill

Freshman Summer Reading Program Welcomes Nicholas Carr to Medaille College

Medaille College is pleased to announce that Nicholas Carr, author of the freshman reading selection for 2013, The Shallows, will speak to our campus community on Wednesday, October 30, 2013. There will be a book signing from 4-5:30pm in the Huber Hall Library & a speaking engagement from 6-7:15pm in the Events Arena (Buffalo Campus). All freshmen are required to attend this event as part of their Learning Community courses. This event is free and open to the public.

Now in it's fifth year, the Summer Reading Program encourages intellectual discourse and a common academic experience for all incoming freshmen at the Buffalo Campus. At Medaille, we know that a key to success is being an active, engaged learner. Our Summer Reading Program encourages active learning and helps freshmen successfully transition to college-level study. The Shallows will help students actively engage with important ideas and inspire them as they embark on a college career. The Shallows will be incorporated into Learning Community coursework during the fall 2013 semester.

2013 Summer Reading Program | An Online Guide


In his book, Carr asks the reader to consider how technology affects us. He reflects on what we gain from modern technology, as well as what we lose. Carr gives his readers a way to explore the advantages and disadvantages of our constant use of the internet. The Shallows offers an exploration of the way our brains change in response to our experiences (especially our on-line experiences) and asks us to critically think about the role of modern media. Carr invites his readers to investigate how modern technology is changing us and to ponder if those changes are improving our brains or damaging our ability to read and think deeply.

Resources for Reading The Shallows

Developing Active Reading Skills
Reading actively means holding an inner dialogue with the author. Carr’s writing style encourages this dialogue:  he wants us to question what he is saying, to compare it to what we already know, and to look deep within ourselves to make it personally meaningful.  Nevertheless, reading actively is a skill that everyone must continually develop, and it involves strategies that are very different from the passive posture that we adopt, for example, when we watch television. The information below provides discussion questions that will help you enjoy The Shallows, while developing your active reading skills.

Issues to Consider & Questions for Reflection

The Power of Narrative: Stories function in many ways.  They can entertain us, they can make us think, and sometimes we use them to go to sleep.  Among their many uses, however, it is clear that stories play a vital role in creating our sense of collective and individual identity.  In other words, stories shape the way that we think and feel about our world, as well as how we relate to it and to others.  Consider, for example, how stories often inspire and encourage us to look at our world in a new and positive way. They may even inspire us take action and make changes for the better. There is an irony that Carr uses the old fashioned medium of the written word on a paper page to tell a story of the new technological age.  Consider the effectiveness of this. Below are some questions to help you reflect further on these issues. 

  • Why is it important to think about the environment in which we tell our stories?
  • How does the environment (oral, written or digital) change the essence of the stories that we tell?
  • Carr uses a mix of pop culture, science and philosophy to tell his story. Does this make his story more compelling? How so?

Our Minds: Carr’s title suggests that our brains are somehow changing because of our continuous use of the internet. He argues that in addition to the benefits, there are also significant consequences for our near exclusive use of the internet for information. He points to the very real changes that are happening at the cultural, social and biological levels. Do you think the internet is changing us for the better or for the worse? Below are some questions to help you reflect on this larger one. 

  • How much (or how little) do you use the internet? Have you noticed if and how it affects your concentration?
  • Do you enjoy reading books? When was the last time you read a book for fun?
  • How does our memory differ from that of a computer? Should we expect our brains to function like a hard-drive?

Community and Culture: The word community refers to a group of people that share common interests and bonds. However, there has been much debate about whether or not a community can really exist online. Do people need to interact face-to-face, without the use of technology, to create a real community? And since culture grows from our sense of community, can we really have a virtual culture? Below are some questions to help you reflect on this larger one.

  • Do things like social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc) help or hinder our communication with one another? How so?
  • Are we becoming a culture of information gatherers rather than a culture of deep thinkers?
  • Do you feel that we are in the process of losing some fundamental quality of humanness?
  • Final Thought:  Has the internet really changed your brain?


About the Author

Nicholas Carr writes about technology, culture, and economics. His most recent book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, is a 2011 Pulitzer Prize nominee and a New York Times bestseller. Mr. Carr is also the author of two other influential books, The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google (2008) and Does IT Matter? (2004). His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Carr has been a columnist for The Guardian in London and has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, The New Republic, The Financial Times, Technology Review, and many other publications. His essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” has been collected in several anthologies, including The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009, The Best Spiritual Writing 2010, and The Best Technology Writing 2009.
Carr is a former member of the Encyclopedia Britannica's editorial board of advisors, was on the steering board of the World Economic Forum's cloud computing project, and was a writer-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley. He writes the popular blog Rough Type and is a sought-after speaker for academic and corporate events. Earlier in his career, he was executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. He holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A., in English and American Literature and Language, from Harvard University. For more information, visit the author's website: http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/

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