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 Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley will be the text for the 2013-14 Penn Reading Project (PRP).  On the afternoon of Monday, August 26, 2013, groups of first-year students and faculty leaders discuss the book as part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2017. 
Bradley's book is a systematic analysis of hip hop understood through the lens of history and contemporary poetry.  The book’s chapters are close examinations of hip hop’s Rhythm, Rhyme, Wordplay, Style, Storytelling and Signifying.  In recommending Book of Rhymes for PRP, the Year of Sound steering committee noted the aptness of hip hop as an area of exploration because it encompasses sound both in music and in poetry, and is an example of how sound plays a vital cultural, social and political role.  Many students will be familiar with hip hop, but probably will not have explored it in an intellectual context.   With this in mind, Book of Rhymes was particularly admired because it is an academic work, and at the same time is understandable to non-specialists.

PRP, now entering its 23rd year, was created as an introduction for incoming freshmen to academic life at Penn.  Past Penn Reading Projects have included John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, 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.