July 30, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STUDENTS TO QUIZ ACCLAIMED
ABOUT HER MINIMUM-WAGE ODYSSEY
Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel
and Dimed in America"
Is Required Summer Reading For Entering Smith Students
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-Entering college
students may think they're experts on minimum-wage employment
-- but it's a fair bet that few have had to afford food, clothing,
housing and transportation on $7 an hour. Essayist and cultural
critic Barbara Ehrenreich tried it, and the result is "Nickel
and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America."
The 675 incoming students of the Smith College Class of 2006
are reading the book over the summer and will meet in small groups
with faculty and staff to discuss their reactions to it as part
of their orientation to the college. The group discussions will
take place at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, in student residences.
Tom Riddell, associate dean of the college and chair of the committee
that chose the summer reading, noted that "Nickel and Dimed"
directly raises important issues of class in the U.S., an emerging
topic both of student activism and faculty scholarship.
It's also a book with particular resonance for women, as noted
in Amazon.com's citation for "Nickel and Dimed" as
one of the Best Books of 2001.
"With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor
market by welfare reform," the reviewer noted, "Barbara
Ehrenreich decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and
find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of
As has become a tradition at Smith, the author of the required
reading will visit campus to engage first-year students in a
dialogue about her book. At 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, Ehrenreich
will give a presentation about the book to new Smith students
and to the general public in John M. Greene Hall and will answer
their questions about the writing process. There is no charge
to the public for the event.
Ehrenreich's book joins a list of past required summer reading
selections that includes Anne Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches
You and You Fall Down"; Toni Morrison's "The Bluest
Eye," Ruth Ozeki's "My Year of Meats" and Sara
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost
liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state
and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's
college in the country.
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