‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is One Book One Northwestern choice for 2018-19

Maddie Burakoff, Campus Editor

Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be the One Book One Northwestern all-campus read for the 2018-19 academic year, the University announced in a Tuesday news release.

Atwood will deliver the One Book keynote address Oct. 30 at both the Evanston and Chicago campuses, the release said, and all first-year students will receive a copy of the book.

The novel is set in a dystopian future in which a theocratic authoritarian regime has overthrown the U.S. government. Its narrator, Offred, is one of the “Handmaids” forced to bear children for the ruling class as a result of widespread infertility.

“Atwood’s vision of a near future, patriarchal dystopia invites us to think hard about what feminism is and how it matters to us in our everyday lives,” English Prof. Helen Thompson — the 2018-19 One Book chair — said in the release. “Not just because we are gendered selves, but because we are historical actors, agents of acceptance, change and resistance.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” inspired a recent MGM/Hulu series, which launched in April 2017. The show’s first season took home top honors for drama series at the Golden Globes, Critcs’ Choice Awards and Emmy Awards.

One Book programming will include related films, lectures and other programming in the upcoming academic year, according to the release. Eugene Lowe Jr., who chaired the One Book selection committee, said in the release that the committee hoped “The Handmaid’s Tale” would help spark campus conversations about ways to work toward equality for women.

Though Atwood started writing the novel in Cold War-era West Berlin, she said in the release that it remains relevant today as there is “a concerted effort to push women back in time.”

“It’s astonishing to me how ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ — a book first published in 1985, over 30 years ago — has found itself more timely now than it was when it appeared,” Atwood said in the release. “This is due in part to the excellence of the MGM/Hulu television series, but also to the times we live in: times I could not possibly have predicted when I was writing the book.”

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