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“Know My Name” Selected for Class of 2024 Summer Reading

Author Chanel Miller
Chanel Miller, author of the 2020 summer reading book at Duke.

A memoir by the woman who was sexually assaulted by a Stanford student in 2015 has been selected as the Duke University Class of 2024 Common Experience summer reading book.

Know My Name,” by Chanel Miller, 27, chronicles her story of moving from trauma victim “Emily Doe,” to an empowered survivor who chose to reveal her identity.   

Seniors servings on the selection committee said this is an important book for students to read. 

“Chanel Miller is honest and open about a topic that has impacted so many, and her eloquent thoughts at last put into words such intangible feelings and experiences,” said Katie  Howie ‘21. “I’ve never been so glad to be a part of the Duke community as in knowing that this is the book we’ve chosen for incoming students to receive.”   

Committee member Brooke Scheinberg ‘21, agreed.

“Not only is Miller a beautiful writer, but she takes us through trauma in a way that is so productive and honest,” Scheinberg said. “I felt motivated to push for change after reading this book.”

The Duke Common Experience Program is designed to provide incoming students with a shared intellectual experience with other members of their class, with the summer reading serving as a focal point. A committee composed of students, staff and faculty selected the book after reviewing recommendations, along with advice from the larger Duke community. They look for books that will prompt stimulating debate; resonate with incoming students; encourage introspection; and enrich the intellectual life of students.

“Know My Name,” has been praised as one of the best books of 2019 by numerous reviewers, including The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, TIME. It won the National Book Critics Circle award for autobiography.  Reviewers have said it has helped reveal shortcomings of a criminal justice system and society that remain biased toward perpetrators and fail to sufficiently protect victims.

The selection was a clear stand out with the committee, said Kevin Erickson, director of Duke Create in the Office of the Vice Provost of the Arts. “(We) felt strongly that students would benefit from reading this compelling, heartbreaking, and wonderfully told work that sheds light on the many ongoing challenges that sexual assault victims must endure--from relationships to the legal system.”

Jordan Hale, director of New Student programs, said he believes the “bravery, honesty, integrity and raw emotions” evidenced by Chanel Miller will resonate with the incoming first-year students.

Committee members chose the book from more than 75 recommendations. The other three finalists were:

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

A special printing of “Know My Name” will be mailed this summer to members of the Duke Class of 2024.  Miller has committed to speak to the class in the fall, either in person or virtually.