Summer Reading Letter

 Summer 2013

 Dear First-Year Student,

Welcome to Siena College and to the First Year Seminar. The Seminar is a two semester, writing intensive course required of all first-year students. The overall goal of the Seminar is to prepare you for the intellectual life of college:  how to read critically, how to engage with a text, how to articulate an informed position on big questions, how to write clearly and persuasively, how to voice an opinion in a classroom conversation, how to make connections between and among the readings you are doing, the subjects you are studying, as well as between Siena and the outside world. In addition, the Seminar will introduce you to the story that is unique to Siena and our Franciscan heritage.

You will remain with the same faculty member and classmates for both semesters.  In all sections, the themes for the year are those of our Core curriculum. For the first semester, they  are:  Heritage and the Natural World; for the second semester, the themes are:  Diversity and Social Justice. Within each theme, there are a few interdisciplinary readings common to all sections of the course. Individual faculty choose the remaining readings and an overall theme to bring coherence to their sections.  The lives and stories of St. Francis and St. Clare are interwoven throughout the year.

In addition, a required summer reading offers incoming first-year students a common intellectual experience. This year we have selected Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies for the summer reading. We chose this book because the story is compelling and beautifully written; also, the book gives easy access to many of the themes of this course. If you will be on Siena's campus this summer, you can purchase the book at Siena's Bookstore. Otherwise, feel free to purchase it at your local bookstore. It might help you to know that your teacher will be using the edition published by Algonquin Books in 2010.

 Requirements for the summer assignment:

·         Read the book slowly and thoroughly. 

·         Pay attention to the titles of each chapter, as the titles tell you which sister’s point of view you are getting. 

·       Be ready to speak about the book when you come to class. Study it, mark or highlight what you think are important passages from the text and write down reactions, questions, reflections that you may have. 

·         During the first week of class, there will be a written assignment and/or quiz about the book.

We are aware that the book has been made into a movie, starring Salma Hayek, Marc Anthony and Edward James Olmos.  We encourage you to watch the movie after you have read the book. Please be aware that the movie is not as detailed as the book and you will be responsible for having read the book.

We have provided a link to discussion questions here:

These questions are meant to guide your reading of the book. Individual instructors may ask you to write out answers. If so, they will let you know. 

If you’d like to read more about the author, here’s the link to her official website:

There are also a variety of websites on the reign of Trujillo and this era in the Dominican Republic. Explore!

In addition, all sections of the Seminar are requiring that you purchase these two books:

Hacker, Diana and Nancy Summers. A Pocket Style Manual, Sixth Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s: 2012.

Graff, Gerald and and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say, I Say, Second Edition. W.W. Norton and Co.: 2010.

You will be using these books for both semesters, as well as the rest of your time at Siena, so we are requiring that you purchase (not rent) a hard copy (not an ecopy) of these books. Both are available in the Siena College Bookstore.


Happy reading,

The First Year Seminar Faculty