Every year the College of Letters and Sciences selects a book to feature in their On the Same Page program. Every freshman and transfer student in the college receives a free copy, a chance to hear the author speak, and the opportunity to participate in classes and lectures related to the selection.
This year, the featured book was Garry Wills’ “Lincoln at Gettysburg.” Wills spoke Wednesday night in Zellerbach Auditorium to a crowd of about 600 on the relevance of the Gettysburg Address in the 21st century.
Not like numbers matter, but, well, they do. Or at least they feed our curiosity … Last year’s featured author was Stephen Hawking, who drew so many people that all 2,000 seats in Zellerbach were filled, and 800 people watched a live broadcast of the event in Wheeler Auditorium.
Why did so few students want to listen to a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of dead presidents and dead late-antique Catholic saints?
Though we might have answered the question for ourselves, we still ponder.
The Clog was curious if there was some special magic that Garry Wills lacked, other than the fact that no one has heard of him before. We brainstormed a few things that might make students a bit more enthusiastic about the ways in which UC Berkeley attempts to educate them.
3) Six thousand books were given out, and the market price for “Lincoln at Gettysburg” is $19.99 a book. Ignoring the fantastical possibility that the books were bought at comegetused.com for half the price, the sum total of this purchase is $119,940. If that money was put solely into advertising his lecture, maybe lecture attendance would tip into the quadruple digits like Stephen Hawking … because everyone knows that no one reads even the required reading.
2) Maybe if the College of Letter and Sciences chose Wills’ other book, “Why I Am A Catholic,” students would have a more enthusiastic response.
1) Never mind the fact that he doesn’t have a rare motor neurone disease, if Garry Wills had a wheelchair and a speech machine, perhaps students would appreciate his every effort at speech a bit more.
Image Source: Anna Callaghan, Daily Cal
Historian Speaks on Gettysburg [Daily Cal]
Book Project Continues with Lincoln at Gettysburg [College of Letters and Science]
Earlier: Renowned Cosmologist Draws Sold-Out Crowd