Why should we care about cultural legacies?

viva la france

This question is directed at the students in the Vive la France! FIG but everyone and anyone is invited to comment.

A key sentence in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven says: “Survival is insufficient.” What does this mean in the context of the novel? What connections might we make between this statement (and Mandel’s novel) and the ideas about cultural legacies that we are exploring in our FIG (Vive la France!) which pairs French 150 (Cultural Legacies of France) with Humanities 101 (Introduction to Humanities)? Why are we concerned with cultural legacies?

Let’s see your page…

What does active, critical, or even creative reading look like? Send a photo of an analytically—or artfully—annotated passage of Station Eleven. Use a page of the novel as the canvas for art inspired by it, or show us the “close reading” questions and observations you’re making about a single passage. Make Station Eleven your own. Tweet images (#UOCommonReading) or email Prizes for best images. And here is our advice for how to approach a text as a critical reader.

Sample annotation by by Dana Glasscock, English Major, Class of 2016
Sample annotation by by Dana Glasscock, English Major, Class of 2016

Opening lines

Station Eleven opens with a scene from Shakespeare’s King Lear: “The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.”

How would your apocalyptic novel open? Submit the first lines at here, or Tweet #UOCommonReading. Hook us or haunt us. What is the style, perspective, and setting of your end-of-days story? Does your opening hint at key themes you’ll explore? Prizes for the best openings: tickets to special event with the author, lunch with new UO President Michael Schill, or beautiful editions of Shakespeare’s plays. Also: last chance to vote for Week of Welcome apocalyptic film—Interstellar is in the lead!

Station Eleven: Ducks Photographers Capture Their Reading Spots

Check out our Twitter feed for some great shots of Ducks reading Mandel’s novel–these range from artful to cozy to amazing! Tweet yours #UOCommonReading or email us!



Apocalypse again?

Katniss returns to District 12 in Lionsgate Films' Mockingjay, Part 1
Katniss returns to District 12 in Lionsgate Films’ Mockingjay, Part 1

Station Eleven takes us to a future in which civilization as we know it has been destroyed by a flu pandemic. Mandel’s focus on the beauty that remains—and is preserved in plays, music, and other cultural forms—is unusual; but her novel joins scores of fantasies of destruction in television, film, and literary fiction.

Why do we love to imagine the end of times so much?

In “Is Dead the New Alive?,” Brooks Landon considers a range of reasons a sub-genre of apocalyptic story—zombies, of course—remains popular: perhaps, in a world of difficult to understand threats—terrorism, global climate change—zombies give us something reassuringly concrete to imagine “fighting.” Or maybe they’re just escapist fun. Or perhaps the end of of the world as we know it gives us the chance to imagine starting fresh. He writes:

Overwhelmed by the increasingly abstract complexities of contemporary life?… Got some pent up anger and violent tendencies you know are not cool? Imagine the satisfaction of that ‘thwack’ when your baseball bat/machete/shovel/hockey stick connects with a zombie head. And then there’s that old lure of the ‘cozy catastrophe,’ the really unfortunate apocalypse which—on the bright side—lets us start over with a clean slate. (8)

In an article about the rise of apocalyptic and dystopian Young Adult fiction, Forbes‘ magazine Debra Donston-Miller interviewed YA authors and media critics who claim that teens are highly aware of inheriting a planet “trashed” by their elders and beset by inequalities: it’s no wonder imagining teen heroes overthrowing a terrible status quo is so satisfying for young adult readers, they claim.

Why do you think stories of civilization’s collapse are so enduring, so popular? Tell us in a comment to this post.

Don’t forget to vote for an apocalyptic film to show during Week of Welcome. So far, Zombieland and Interstellar are running neck and neck.

Welcome Ducks!

We’re very excited to hear what you think of this year’s Common Reading! Once you’ve read the opening chapter or so, we invite you to share some of your first impressions here: for example, what clues has Mandel given you

Royal Shakespeare's Greg Hicks as King Lear, 2010-2011. Photo by Manuel Harla
Royal Shakespeare Company’s Greg Hicks as King Lear. Photo by Manuel Harla

about what’s going to be important in this novel? What characters, themes, and issues are you on the alert for? What questions do you have? Why is a celebrity actor’s death of a heart attack rendered so spectacularly, with such detail, on the opening pages, when the deaths of millions and collapse of civilization is depicted glancingly—“alluded to,” rather that presented in its pain and suffering, as New York Times reviewer Sigrid Nuenez puts it?

Any first thoughts? Welcome to the conversation!

And don’t forget, we’d love to see photos of you with the book—or just the book—that give us a sense of hometowns and summer holidays and favorite reading nooks… of all the varied places Ducks are turning their Station Eleven pages.

Where are you Station-ed?

Send us a “traveling gnome” photo of you with Station Eleven (or just of the book if you prefer) in a location that matters to you—say, somewhere in your hometown, or with you on holiday. Tweet #UOCommonReading or email Most artful or farthest from Eugene photos can win tickets to VIP event with Emily St. John Mandel, lunch with new UO President Michael Schill, or beautiful editions of Shakespeare’s plays.

The 2015–16 Common Reading book selection

Station Eleven

What happens when civilization as you know it comes to an abrupt end?

In the 2015 Common Reading selected book, Station Eleven, a pandemic called the Georgia Flu wipes out 99.99% of the human race in a matter of weeks. Twenty years later, a band of knife-wielding musicians and tattooed actors help ragtag communities remember what is important. This riveting story moves back and forth in time, taking us from Toronto to British Columbia, from Los Angeles to Michigan, and from Shakespeare to Star Trek. Learn more about the book, Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 1.50.47 PMGet Involved in the Common Reading program:

  • Would you like to get your classmates, students, or colleagues involved?
  • Are you an instructor interested in receiving a copy of Mandel’s book?
  • Are you a first-year student starting at UO in fall term 2015 and did not receive a book at your IntroDUCKtion session?

Contact the Office of the Vice Provost to get involved or get a copy of the book:

What would you save?

Old books Image

Station Eleven author Emily St. John Mandel said this about her book, “[It’s] about a traveling Shakespearean theatre company in a post-apocalyptic North America. It’s also about friendship, memory, love, celebrity, our obsession with objects, oppressive dinner parties, comic books, and knife-throwing.” The book highlights both pop culture and the classics, such as Shakespeare’s plays. If you were to preserve a few great books, movies, or pieces of music for the ages, what would they be?

Second Annual Symposium for Mindfulness and Society

The Symposium for Mindfulness and Society was created to highlight the research being conducted by UO faculty and graduate students on the neurological basis of mindfulness practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga. Meditation has long been associated with a sense of inner calm and physical relaxation. Researchers at the UO are now finding that meditation and mindfulness can lead to improved learning and attention as well as increased self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

mindfulness symposium poster

This year the symposium is highlighted by two guest speakers:


Davidson, Richard

Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind: Neuroscientific Studies of Meditation

Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Date: February 9, 2015

Time: 7 pm [EMU Ballroom]

Richard Davidson is a pioneering neuroscientist, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and named by Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people. Davidson is best known for his groundbreaking work in studying emotion and the brain. His bestselling book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain, was chosen as this year’s Undergraduate Studies Common Reading: a book given to all first-year students as a way of sparking conversation while introducing them to the UO’s rich community of researchers and scholars.


Saron, Clifford

Minding Mindfulness: Findings and Issues in the Scientific Investigation of Contemplative Practice

Clifford Saron, Ph.D., University of California-Davis

Date: February 9, 2015

Time: 1 pm [Lee Barlow Guistina Ballroom, Ford Alumni Center]

Clifford Saron is an Associate Research Scientist at the University of California-Davis and Director of the Shamatha Project — a large-scale collaborative and multimethod longitudinal study of the effects of intensive meditation training. The Saron lab uses qualitative, self-report, behavioral, electrophysiological, and biochemical measures to begin to elucidate the many levels of personal and physiological change that accompany such training.


The Davidson lecture is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Undergraduate Studies Common Reading Program (with support from the Offices of the President and the Vice President for Student Life), and the Departments of Biology and Psychology. All events are free and open to the public. For sign language interpreting or other disability-related accommodations, please call 541-346-1221 before February 2nd. Davidson’s lecture will be ASL interpreted.

For info or questions about the Symposium or the Common Reading, please contact 541-346-1221 or


Symposium Sessions [February 9, 2015 – Lee Barlow Guistina Ballroom, Ford Alumni Center]

1:00 pm    Introduction

1:15 pm     Clifford Saron, Minding Mindfulness: Findings and Issues in the Scientific Investigation of Contemplative Practice (UC Davis, Director of the Shamatha Project)

2:00 pm     Ben Nelson, Parental Interpersonal Mindfulness Associated with Decreased Rates of Postpartum Depression (UO)

2:15 pm     Nick Allen, Dispositional Mindfulness as a unique psychological strength: Clinical and neurodevelopment perspectives (UO)

2:45 pm     Break

3:30 pm     Marjorie Woollacott, Effects of Meditation, Tai Chi and Aerobics on Neural Activity Associated with Executive Attention (UO)

4:00 pm     Christina Karns, A Grateful Mind: Relating Gratitude to Facets of Mindfulness (UO)

4:15 pm     Frank Diaz, Mindfulness and Musical Processing: Theories, Evidence, and Questions from an Emerging Field (UO)

5:00 pm     Reception


 Mindfulness Showcase [February 10, 2015 – Gumwood Room, EMU]

See a full description of each showcase event. 

10:00 a.m.     Mindful Yoga with Kathryn Thier (UO)

11:00 a.m.     Mindfulness and Emotional Well-Being with Tyan Taubner (UO)

Noon              Mindfulness Sitting Group with Robin Hertz (UO)

1:00 p.m.       Mindfulness-Based
 Cognitive Therapy with Heidemarie Laurent (UO)

2:00 p.m.       Mindfulness and Higher Education with Lisa Freinkel (UO)

3:00 p.m.       UO Mindfulness Research with Cris Niell, Marjorie Woollacott and other UO researchers

4:15 p.m.       Mindfulness
 and Elementary School  with Tom Horn (Edison Elementary School)



Tuesday, January 27 – Lecture by Michael Posner


 Monday, February 9 – Lecture by Richard Davidson