The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday October 18th

'Eating Animals' summer reading book unites UNC-Duke

This summer, a book brought two campuses together.

UNC and Duke University chose Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” as the joint 2011 summer reading novel.

And to bring the experience closer to home, Duke collaborated with the campus’ Nasher Museum of Art, creating an exhibit that merged the art collection and summer reading for the first time.

The exhibit, which closes Oct. 16, features artwork from the Nasher’s permanent collection, gathered for display by Molly Boarati, the academic program assistant at the Nasher.

By the end of her search through the collection, Boarati said she had unearthed 33 pieces spanning 2,000 years and several cultures.

She said she selected the works that gave the best visual representations of the ideas Foer wrote about.

“The art helps to illuminate the book in that it brings visitors face to face with its issues — a severed calf’s head outside a French butcher shop; turkeys being rounded up for Thanksgiving, a man beside his dog — and helps them to relate on another level,” Boarati said in an email.

To reinforce the connection between Foer’s book and the collection, she said she asked Duke faculty members to write about their reaction to individual pieces. Their responses are included on display with the artwork.

“Their thoughts add an extra dimension to the art and present various opinions and ideas that go beyond the book itself,” Boarati said in an email.

Foer’s book looks at food culture and the relationship between animals and humans in the U.S.

Donna Lisker, associate dean for undergraduate education at Duke who helped pick the book, said the book raised great questions.

“He asked readers to consider how their daily food choices reflect their ethics and values, and that’s something we could all think about more,” she said.

The summer reading program is aimed to introduce new material to incoming freshmen and let them discuss the piece and compare reactions to what they read with reactions of fellow students.

Boarati said the museum’s incorporation of the material was a great way to introduce freshmen to the Nasher as well as to Duke.

Though summer reading ended in August, the exhibition is helping to keep the discussion alive.

Many classes have coordinated lessons to incorporate the nearby exhibition and discuss it in various contexts.

At the annually held freshmen party at the Nasher, Boarati said the overall reaction to the exhibit was positive.

“They seemed enthusiastic about the book and happy to share their thoughts with me,” she said in an email.

Boarati, who read the book and then went vegetarian, said she enjoyed putting the exhibition together.

“Art is a product of and relates to our everyday lives,” she said.
“It’s important for visitors to connect that with another important quotidian topic: food.”

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