Celebration, exhibit focus on iconic book

It is an American literary classic, and throughout October Shippensburg University is celebrating the anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird.

The 1960 book by Harper Lee is being recognized throughout the month with a celebration exhibit on the main floor of Ezra Lehman Library. In addition, a panel discussion Oct. 6 followed a showing of the movie version of the novel. A podcast of the event is available on the Lehman Library website at www.ship.edu/library.

The celebration is coordinated by Dr. Mary Stewart, professor of English; Joyce Harding, library technician; and Samatha Depree, a junior English major with a minor in theater studies. After receiving news of the anniversary from a fellow librarian, Harding teamed with Stewart to organize the events. They enlisted Depree’s help after a particularly fascinating presentation on the novel in one of Stewart’s classes.

Depree took on the challenge of the exhibit that includes a then and now portion, a section about the novel’s influence on today’s pop culture, and background on Harper and the book.

“Whether you have read the book or not, you can look at the exhibit and think, ‘Oh wow, this book really did have an influence on this or that and today’s culture.’ It’s full of little fun facts that people can relate to,” said Depree.

The Oct. 6 panel provided a deeper look into issues and influences revolving around the book. The panel's four speakers each focused on a different topic. Stewart provided a personal account of her reaction when the book was released; she was in Mississippi at the time. Dr. Thomas C. Crochunis, assistant professor of English, talked about the book and film’s use in the classroom, in particular how people talk about it in 21st century classrooms. Dr. Raymond E. Janifer Sr., professor of English and ethnic studies, spoke about beliefs of the time and Tom Robinson’s fate. Depree focused on current college students' reactions to the book.

For more information on the exhibit contact Harding at jyhard@ship.edu or Stewart at mcstew@ship.edu.