Luther hosts opening convocation Sept. 2

The start ofi the new academic year at Luther College will be celebrated at an opening convocation Sept. 2.

The Luther College and Decorah communities are invited to celebrate the start of a new academic year and welcome the class of 2025 at an opening convocation at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, in the Center for Faith and Life.

The event will be open to the public via livestream. To view the event, a link to a livestream will be posted the day of the event.

Speaking via Zoom, Brit Bennett is this year’s convocation speaker. Bennett’s novel “The Vanishing Half” was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller and was selected as the 2021 Luther College Paideia summer read.The story is centered around African-American identical twin sisters, one of whom vanishes from the family as an adult to “pass” as white. The novel explores the difference in treatment they receive as they journey through life in a society that was built on racist policies and actions. Kathy Reed, Paideia program director, explains how the novel connects to this year’s enduring question: In a divided society, how do we live in community?

“The book offers vivid depictions of the barriers to community across socially constructed divides, and at the same time, it shows us ways that relationships and social practices and institutions can begin to transcend those divides,” said Reed. “It takes what we think of as a built-in community and family bond between twin sisters, and shows it getting blown apart by social constructions of race. The novel also addresses gender identity in fascinating ways.”

Kristen Underwood, director of campus programming, helped to organize the event and is excited to hear from Bennett during Opening Convocation.

“Brit Bennett is one of the most buzzed about new voices of literary fiction and has a reputation as a powerful speaker,” said Underwood. “It’s a huge honor to have her address our community.”Bennett’s first novel “The Mothers” was also a New York Times bestseller, and her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review and Jezebel. 

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