Academic First Year Experiences

  • CommonRead 2014 Banner Students Holding Postmortal

Common Read

To the Entering Freshman Class of 2014-2015

Welcome to Cal State Northridge! CSUN's 2014-2015 Freshman Common Reading is The Postmortal: A Novel by Drew Magary. Written in the form of blog posts, The Postmortal tells the story of John Farrell beginning in the year 2019 when he decides to take the newly discovered "cure," a form of gene therapy that stops the aging process. As the cure becomes widely available, enormous social changes sweep across the globe. The book raises moral and ethical questions about overpopulation, mortality, the environment, families, birth, marriage, death, interpersonal relationships, income inequality, and the role of government in the lives of the governed.

As a new freshman, you are invited to read the book and to discuss it as part of a campus-wide community of readers. If you are enrolled in UNIV 100 for fall 2014, you will have the opportunity to read The Postmortal as part of the course. But whether you're taking UNIV 100 or not, reflecting about a book in this way places academic engagement—teaching and learning—at the very center of the community that you are about to join. The Common Reading allows us all to think, talk, and learn together across and beyond the boundaries of any single classroom.

Drew Magary (the author of The Postmortal) will be the keynote speaker on September 4, 2014, at Freshman Convocation. Read this book; talk about it with other students; and discuss it with faculty, with staff, with administrators, with friends, and even (who knows?) with your family.

CSUN Postmortal Resources

Epidemiology: the Department of Health Sciences offers advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in epidemiology, and has three faculty who are expert epidemiologists: Stephanie Benjamin, Lawrence Chu, and Kaitlin O'Keefe. CSUN librarian Marcia Henry's Library Research Guide on Epidemiology provides some starting points for research.

Genetics & Development: several faculty from the Biology Department and beyond are conducting research in this field, including Ray Hong, Cindy Malone, Rheem Medh, Aida Metzenberg, Steven Oppenheimer, Cheryl Van Buskirk, Virginia Oberholzer Vandergon, and others.

Gerontology: the Department of Health Sciences offers graduate degrees and an undergraduate minor in gerontology, which they define as "the study of the aging processes and individuals as they grow from middle age through later life."

Psychology: Psychology 365 focuses on gerontology. CSUN professor Luciana Laganà (who teaches PSY 365 regularly) lists ethnogeriatrics (the study of ethnically diverse older adults) as one of her specializations.

Sociology: Sociology 440 focuses on the sociology of aging.

Postmortal posters by CSUN graphic design students Nivardo Esteban (masked skeleton) and Kyle Smith (sheep flu symptoms). Esteban's design also appears on this year's Freshman Common Reading bookmarks, available while supplies last from participating faculty and also in the Oviatt Library lobby (main floor).

Postmortal design of masked skull by Nivardo EstebanPostmortal design: zombified hand by Kyle Smith

Other Campuses Reading The Postmortal

East Stroudsburg University (2014)

Hiram College (2014)

University of South Carolina (2013)

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (2014)

Assignment Ideas for Faculty Using The Postmortal

Classroom assignments and discussion topics faculty can use with The Postmortal are posted on the faculty resource page. If you have a new idea for teaching with the book, please email it to me and I'll add it to the collection.