The Circle by Dave Eggers has been chosen as required reading for all students entering the Steinhardt School this fall. The book will be discussed in the New Student Seminar, a course that offers students a way to explore their role in the community using the reading as a guide.
Set in the not-too-distant future, The Circle tells the story of Mae Holland who lands a job at the world’s largest Internet company. The novel chronicles the inner workings of The Circle, a firm modeled on a Silicon Valley conglomerate. Like George Orwell’s 1984, the book is a dystopian novel about transparency and surveillance.
“We thought The Circle would open up an interesting discussion about how we live now,” said Patricia Carey, associate dean for student affairs. “The book offers a sweeping view of a world where social connection is replaced by online connection and being a good citizen means conforming to societal expectation. The Circle gives us a way to talk about how our identities are shaped by technology.”
At the New Student Seminar, freshman and transfer students will be discussing the virtue of analog living, unplugging, and sharing personal data, as well as looking at how technological innovations can influence their art, professional lives, and personal narratives. They will also be creating a project centered on the seminar’s theme, “Our Computers, Ourselves.”