WWU Plans Events to Promote One Read, ‘The Air We Breathe’

"The Air We Breathe"William Woods University faculty and staff have planned a number of activities during September in conjunction with the Daniel Boone Regional Library’s One Read program. This year’s book, chosen by a public vote, is “The Air We Breathe,” a novel by Andrea Barrett. All events at WWU are free and open to the public.


One Read, now in its eighth year, is a community-wide reading program that encourages adults of all ages to read one book and participate in thought-provoking discussion and activities.


“The Air We Breathe” takes place in the fall of 1916. Americans debate whether to enter the European war. “Preparedness parades” march and headlines report German spies. But in an isolated community in the Adirondacks, the danger is barely felt. At Tamarack Lake the focus is on the sick.


Wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages; charity patients, mainly immigrants, fill the large public sanatorium. For all, time stands still. Prisoners of routine and yearning for absent families, the patients, including the newly arrived Leo Marburg, take solace in gossip, rumor, and—sometimes—secret attachments.


An enterprising patient initiates a weekly discussion group. When his well-meaning efforts lead instead to a tragic accident and a terrible betrayal, the war comes home, bringing with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment. The conjunction of thwarted desires and political tension binds the patients so deeply that, finally, they speak about what’s happened in a single voice.


Following is a list of One Read activities planned at William Woods University. All events take place at 7 p.m. in the Library Auditorium unless otherwise noted.


Sept. 1—“On the Lake,” a touching, often heart-wrenching documentary of the history of the tuberculosis epidemic, presented by Dr. Greg Smith, English and film professor


Sept. 3—“Tracking TB in Missouri,” presented by Loree Monroe, APRN FNP, nurse practitioner


Sept. 10—“World War I and Anti-Immigrant/Labor/Radicalism Sentiment and their Long-Term Impact on American Society, Culture and Politics,” presented by Steve Hageman, history professor


Sept. 14—“Interpersonal Dynamics and the Treatment of the Rich vs. the Poor,” presented by Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, social work professor


Sept. 15—“Immigration Issues,” presented by Dr. Mary Mosley, Spanish professor, with

  • Prof. Judy Ancel from UMKC, an expert on immigration and labor issues

  • State Rep. Jerry Nolte, a Republican representing Dist. 33 (Clay County)

Sept. 17—Video conference of Andrea Barrett, author of “The Air We Breathe,” talking about her book and answering questions  


Sept. 20—Public reception for student art exhibit, 2-4 p.m., Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts


Sept. 21—“The Role of ‘National Enemies’ in Key Moments in the 20th Century,” presented by Dr. Shawn Hull, history professor


Sept. 22—“Tuberculosis, X-Rays and Sanatoriums,” presented by Dr. Kath Mayne, biology professor 


Sept. 24—“The Terror of TB,” four short films on tuberculosis (one hour total) from 1912, 1914, 1936 and 1955.  All are in black and white; the first two are silent films.


Sept. 26 (1 p.m.)—“Painting by the Lake.” Terry Martin and Jane Mudd, art professors, invite the community to join them for plein air (open air) painting at Junior Lake on the north side of the WWU campus. Participants are asked to bring their own supplies.


Sept. 28 (4 p.m.)—“A Reader’s Theater Presentation of the Historical Novel, with an Emphasis on the Anti-Immigrant Sentiment of Pre-WWI America,” presented by Dr. Betsy Tutt, education professor


Sept. 29—“The Rwanda Community Partnership Project.” Dr. Robert Hansen and Mike Beahon relate what they discovered in Rwanda about AIDS and TB, how these diseases affect families in rural Africa and what the Fulton community is doing about it.


Programs offered by William Woods University are subject to change, and additional programs may be added. Please check the WWU website (TheWoods.edu) for the latest information or contact Mary Ann Beahon, director of university relations, at mbeahon@williamwoods.edu or (573) 592-1127.