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 Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants.” All events at WWU are free and open to the public.
One Read, now in its sixth 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.
In “Water for Elephants,” Jacob Jankowski, now in a nursing home, recounts his youthful experiences in a traveling circus during the Great Depression. Orphaned and penniless, young Jacob jumped a train and ended up caring for the animals of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, including Rosie the elephant.
The author contrasts the tawdry, and often cruel, but fascinating features of Jacob’s circus life with his present day dissatisfaction, his sterile nursing home existence and his family’s neglect.
WWU’s programs are based on the themes of the book—the Great Depression, aging and nursing homes and memories of an old man, the circus, animals (especially horses and elephants) and animal mistreatment.
Following is a list of activities planned at William Woods University:
Circus Day at WWU – One Read Kick Off
Monday, Sept. 10
William Woods University will introduce this year’s One Read selection, tying together the dual themes of circus life and life in a nursing home. The Office of Student Life will decorate Tucker Dining Hall, play circus music and encourage everyone to wear circus costumes (clown, ringmaster, equestrian, etc.). Students will visit local nursing homes in the late afternoon.
“American Life During the Great Depression”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, William Woods University Library Auditorium
Steve Hageman, history faculty, will share his knowledge of an era that started with the 1929 stock market crash and continued through the following decade as Americans experienced financial and emotional distress when banks, stores and factories closed, leaving millions of people jobless, homeless and penniless.
Students and Senior Citizens—Part I
7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept 12, William Woods University Aldridge Lounge
Book discussion: issues raised in “Water for Elephants.” Visitors from the Presbyterian Manor will act as local authorities on these issues and share their experiences with students. Sponsored by Kath Mayne.
“Carnivale” – movie and discussion
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, William Woods University Library Auditorium
Greg Smith, English/film faculty, will show and discuss an episode of HBO’s excellent recent series that deals specifically with the time period, setting and issues in question in “Water for Elephants.” Film runs 60 minutes.
“Circus Dressage” – movie and discussion
7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, William Woods University Library Auditorium
Linda McClaren, equestrian faculty, will show and discuss a film about the Circus Knie, a European circus, and an overview of their training techniques for horses and exotic animals.
Corridor Gallery, Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts, William Woods University
Reception 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19
Students of Terry Martin and Jane Mudd will display their work through the end of September. The display will then move to Westwood Coffee. The WWU art center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“Caring for your Elderly Parent”
7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21—location TBA
Sponsored by the WWU social work faculty, Dr. Richard Hessler, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Missouri, will discuss concerns facing those who find themselves in the all-to-common position of providing care for their aging parents.
“Freaks” – movie and discussion
7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, William Woods University Library Auditorium
Greg Smith, English/film faculty, will show and discuss this 1932 black and white cult classic depicting actual sideshow performers. Film runs 64 minutes.
“Brother Can You Spare A Dime” – movie and discussion
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, William Woods University Library Auditorium.
Harriet Yelon, social work faculty, will show and discuss this 1975 documentary that uses news clips from the 1930s to chronicle the decade of The Great Depression. Film runs 111 minutes.
Students and Senior Citizens—Part II
7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at Presbyterian Manor, 811 Center St., Fulton
In a follow-up to the Sept. 12 event, William Woods University students will visit Presbyterian Manor for a discussion with residents on issues raised in “Water for Elephants.” Refreshments provided. Sponsored by Kath Mayne.
Programs offered by William Woods University are subject to change, and additional programs may be added. Please check the WWU website (WilliamWoods.edu) for the latest information.