First-year Student with Sparty

Preface First-Year Reading and Writing Program

Preface is a first-year reading program that introduces students to the joy of reading critically and using academic disciplines and methods to approach complex issues. Preface combines guided reading of a selected text with co-curricular events in which students discuss questions raised by the text with university, community and national experts. During this program, first-year students read the Preface text in English 101 and most University 101 courses and attend related events throughout the fall semester.

While Preface is geared primarily toward first-year students, it offers a calendar of events that are relevant to a wide range of university courses as well as the community. Events are planned in close cooperation with USC Upstate departments organizations and are free and open to the public. This fall, first-year writing students will read The Weight of This World, a novel by David Joy. The Weight of This World represents a new generation of Southern literature that combines a deep love of the places and communities of Appalachia with an unflinching look at the realities of our lives. The events of the 2018 Preface series will explore the challenges and opportunities of Our Changing South

The Weight of This WorldThe Weight of This World book cover

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut Where All the Light Tends to Go was hailed as a "savagely moving novel that will probably become a great addition to the great body of Southern literature" (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountans of North Carolina with a powerful story about the weight of the past. 

A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom cannot leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years, and she wants nothing more than to escape the unforgiving town that holds only bad memories. Between them is Aiden McCall, who is deeply loyal to both but unable to hold them together.

Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. In a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it.--from "About The Weight of This World," Penguin Random House 

Preface Goals

The intent of this series of programs is to help USC Upstate first-year students make connections to each other and to the university and community, to practice skills and explore ideas that contribute to success in college, and to discuss how a deeper understanding of a shared reading can inform the way we make personal decisions and influence public policy today.

2018 Schedule of Events: Our Changing South

Substance Use and the Weight of Stigma

September 6, 2018, 6pm-7pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
Taylor Dockter, Drug Free Communities Coordinator for the Forrester Center for Behavioral Health and Impact Spartanburg, will share insights from her work addressing the misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in Spartanburg County. This presentation will take a close look at the impact of social stigma on the ability of individuals and communities to reduce substance abuse problems.

"I wanted to make a difference, but it is just so hard": Reflecting on the Experiences of Latinx K-12 Teachers in the Southeast": Speaker Timothy Monreal

September 17, 2018, 4pm-5:30pm, Health Education Complex, Room 2001
Educator Tim Monreal shares perspectives on the New Latinx South. This talk outlines the context for Latinx teachers in the Southeast and shares research about the experiences of Latinx teachers in South Carolina, where only 1% of all teachers identify as "Hispanic." Sponsored by the Latinx Interdisciplinary Studies Talks on Civic Leadership and Mentoring.

The Greater Green: Complicated Conversations with Dr. Nikia White

September 20, 2018, 5pm-6:30pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
Part of being a Spartan is the ability to demonstrate respect for cultural differences, as you meet and interact with people from various walks of life on this campus. Dr. Nika White has touched thousands of lives by creating experiential learning for conversations around diversity and inclusion. Join our keynote this year as she engages participants in micro-learning activities and self-reflective guided conversations on topics related to valuing human difference. Sponsored by the Office of Student Life-Multicultural Programs.


Keynote Speaker: David Joy, author of The Weight of This World

September 25, 2018, 6pm-7pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
Enjoy a reading and discussion with North Carolina writer David Joy, author of our Preface novel and his latest book, The Line That Held Us. Joy is one of the leading voices in the new generation of Appalachian literature. Sponsored by USC Upstate Student Life and the Division of Languages, Literature and Composition.

Community Health Workers--How PASOs Puts Paulo Freire's Pedagogy into Practice: Speaker Mike Young

September 27, 2018, 12pm-1:30pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
PASOs is a community-based organization that provides South Carolina's Latino communities with culturally responsive education on family health, early childhood, and positive parenting skills; individual guidance for participants in need of resources; and partnership with health care and social service providers to help them provide more effective services. Mike Young, director of capacity building at PASOs, will discuss the impact of following Paulo Freire's principles of community education and empowerment to fulfill the PASOs mission. Sponsored by the Latinx Interdisciplinary Studies Talks on Civic Leadership and Mentoring.

Hard Times in Appalachia: LBJ's War on Poverty with Speaker Myles Alexander

October 8, 2018, 6pm-7pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty and called particular attention to the economic challenges facing Appalachia. More than 50 years later, the characters in David Joy's Appalachia still struggle with lack of economic opportunities. Learn more about Hard Times in Appalachia, past and present, with English instructor, Myles Alexander.

Sex, Violence, Death, Beauty: Landscape as Destiny in David Joy's The Weight of This World with Dr. Jonathan Storm, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Beth Keefauver, instructor of English

Photo of North Carolina Mountains at sunset with trees in foreground

October 16, 2018, 3:30pm-4:30pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
Join Dr. Storm and Dr. Keefauver for an interdisciplinary dialogue about living in the rich natural environment of the Carolinas. Dr. Storm is the creator of the Field Guide to the Southern Piedmont and the Southern Piedmont Coloring Book. Dr. Keefauver is an author of environmental literature, including fiction like "Lizard Girl" and "Ripe Fruit." Learn more about how a biologist and an author see our shared natural world.

Hot Wings and Hot Topics: "COP-licated Interactions"

October 23, 2018, 7pm-8pm, College of Arts and Sciences Building, Room 101
This event is co-sponsored by Office of Student Life-Multicultural Programs and #WeNeedToTalk as part of Diversity Week, “Speak UP: Finding Your Voice in the Midst of Injustice”

Diversity Week Lunch and Learn: “Dangerous Minds: Student Identity and Activism in a Climate of H.A.T.E” by Bryant K. Smith of S.M.I.T.H Consulting

October 24, 2018, 12pm-1:30pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
The Office of Student Life-Multicultural Programs is proud to present the Diversity Week Lunch and Learn Keynote Address with Bryant K. Smith. “Dangerous Minds" is a multimedia experience that seeks to answer the question, “what does it mean to be a student activist?" It is a historical examination of the student activist experience in America, including how contemporary events such as the death of Sandra Bland, protest at the University of Missouri, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner all impact the narrative that America is post racial. Critically engaging in its presentation this program will have audiences reevaluating their views on racism, equality, and social justice. Lunch is FREE  for all students, and $5 for faculty, staff, and community members. 

Child Protection Training Center Lecture and Simulation on Adverse Childhood Experiences (THREE SESSIONS)

October 30, November 1, and November 6, 2018, 1:10-2:25pm, The George, Room 310 (Students may take the USC Upstate Shuttle to the George building downtown. Shuttle departs the HPAC/Library Bus Stop at 12:40). 
The Child Protection Training Center offers a lecture and simulation on Adverse Childhood Experiences, including an hands-on experience of the Mock House where trainers stage crime scenes and other situations that child protection professionals encounter every day. Seating is limited and open only to USC Upstate students. Registration is required; sign on with your USC Upstate username and password. 

“Reflections on Weight of the World from a Historian, Veteran, and Native Tar Heel” with Dr. Andrew Myers, professor of American Studies

Photo portrait of a female army ROTC nurse saluting an officer who is standing outside the frame of the photo.

November 12, 2018, 12:30pm-1:30pm, Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom
Dr. Andrew Myers is a Iraq War veteran, a native North Carolinian, and a USC Upstate professor of American Studies. He is the author of a recent essay about the southern military tradition and the way it is represented in fiction. He is currently teaching a special topics course called African Americans in the Military. In this talk, Dr. Myers brings together his personal experience and his academic expertise to offer context for the character of Thad Broom, a combat veteran returned from Afghanistan who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.