About Penn Reading Project


The Provost, the Council of Undergraduate Deans, and the Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives are pleased to announce that John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt will be the text for the 2012-13 Penn Reading Project (PRP).  On the afternoon of Sunday, September 2, 2012, groups of first-year students and faculty leaders will join together to discuss the book as part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2016. 

John Patrick Shanley's play, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for drama, deals with the conflict between a popular parish priest teaching in a middle school and the school's principal, a nun who believes the priest to be guilty of misconduct though she has little evidence to support it.   The New York Times praised Doubt as "written with an uncanny blend of compassion and detachment... presents each point of view with reasonableness and an eloquence... Even as Doubt holds your conscious attention as an intelligently measured debate play, it sends off stealth charges that go deeper emotionally."  The play raises provocative questions about faith, evidence and instinct, and will serve as an ideal kick-off for the Year of Proof.

PRP, now entering its 22nd year, was created as an introduction for incoming freshmen to academic life at Penn.  Past Penn Reading Projects have included Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken, Rose George's The Big Necessity, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia – as well as Thomas Eakin’s painting, The Gross Clinic.  Information about the Penn Reading Project and its history can be found here.