Common Book 2013

Each summer, first-year students complete their first college assignment by participating in the Buckeye Book Community. First-year students on the Marion campus will purchase the book prior to or during orientation and are asked to complete the reading before they return to campus in the autumn. Students should be prepared to discuss and analyze what they have read. Students on every Ohio State campus will be reading The Submission by Amy Waldman this summer.

The Buckeye Book Community connects the first-year class through a shared experience and introduces the expectation that college students cultivate a life of learning both in and outside the classroom.

The Submission

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name—and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country’s.

The memorial’s designer is an enigmatic, ambitious architect named Mohammad “Mo” Khan. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the self-possessed and mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, she finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself—as unknowable as he is gifted.

In the fight for both advantage and their ideals, all will bring the emotional weight of their own histories to bear on the urgent question of how to remember--and understand--a national tragedy.

photo of book cover

Here is an online resource for The Submission. Consider searching the internet where you will find many resources to supplement you reading experience.

The Assignment:

At Freshman Welcome Day, Monday, August 19 you will be required to turn in a 2-3 page response paper focusing on The Submission answering one of several prompts. The assignment is part of your Exploration 1100.01 course, which is required for all new Ohio State Marion students. The assignment is worth a total of 50 points. 25 points for attending Welcome Day, and a maximum of 25 points for the written paper.

Printing will not available on Freshmen Welcome Day so be sure you have your printed paper with you.


Follow the instructions below and choose a writing prompt from the list provided.  Complete your writing assignment based on the prompt you select. If you quote from the book in your paper, be sure to use correct MLA style citation to document your source.  Be certain that your work is your own.

All papers are to be formatted as follows:

  • Include a cover sheet containing the following information
    • your first and last name and OSU user name (last name.#)
    • planned major of study

    • Exploration class section number (check your class schedule on your Student Center)

    • Exploration instructor’s name (check your class schedule on your Student Center)

    • Writing prompt number/Title

      • The paper must be typed
      • Usa 12 pt., Times New Roman, double-spaced, with 1 inch margins
      • Length - two to three double spaced typed full 8.5”x 11” pages minimum
      • Papers should be well thought out, with a clear thesis and argument to support your thesis, using the text for evidence.

Choose one of the following writing prompts as the focus for your paper.

Your paper needs to include specific examples and citations from the book regardless of the prompt you choose.

  1. Choose two specific characters from the book that represent different groups (family members, religious groups, the media, politicians, etc.).  Explain the similarities and differences in their reactions to the piece chosen for the memorial. Could their feelings of anger and the need for revenge ever fade? Why or why not?
  2. Describe the role and responsibility of the media in The Submission. Choose a specific member of the media from the book and discuss her/his ability to be objective.  Did she/he report facts or was his/her coverage and investigation biased? If so, how was it biased? What influenced the bias? Describe the differences or similarities of media coverage in the book compared to media coverage of more recent terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon.

  3. The book presents various arguments on the importance of memorials. Of the arguments presented in the book, which one most closely relates to your view? Think of memorials in your own community and discuss how they support or do not support your view on the importance of memorials.   

  4. In the book you will find the statement, “It’s Maya Lin all over again. But worse.”  What is meant by this comment, and how does it parallel the situation in the book?  How is it different?  Cite outside sources.  How is this a reflection on American Society?

  5. Discuss the symbolic meaning of the two submissions highlighted in the book. Consider what is known about each of the two architects.  Discuss the reaction to each submission based on the architect.  Would the reaction to each submission have been different if designed by an architect of a different background?  

Contact your academic advisor if you have questions about the assignment.

Kylie Butte

Wolali Dedo

Penny Eyster

Sharon Gattshall

Louis Hominga

Tom Marshall

Shellie Shirk

Chris Trapp


Past Common Book Information

2011: "Outcasts Unlimited" by Warren St. John

2012: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot