Summer Reading in 1962: Look Homeward, Angel

UNC’s popular (and sometimes controversial) Carolina Summer Reading Program began in 1999. However, UNC experimented with the idea of an assigned summer reading book for students as early as 1962.

Students entering Carolina in the fall of 1962 were required to read Look Homeward, Angel, UNC graduate Thomas Wolfe’s classic coming-of-age novel featuring a young man from western North Carolina who attended a familiar-sounding college in the town of “Pulpit Hill.” Orientation Chairman Bob Madry told the Daily Tar Heel that the book was “a difficult assignment,” but appropriate because “exposure to it plus the analysis and discussion in the seminars will give new students some idea of the type of work they can expect in the months to come.”

As part of the orientation program, students would attend a discussion session led by members of the Phi Eta Sigma scholastic honorary society. English professor Hugh Holman prepared a guide to the text. Unfortunately, the records in the archives don’t tell us how the discussions went, or how many incoming students made their way through the entire 626-page book.

Looking back on the required reading assignment, a committee charged with evaluating the orientation offerings wrote, “The seminars on a book (tried experimentally last year) should be repeated, but the book should be a shorter work such as Animal Farm.”

Records of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (40124), Box 33. University Archives.