Loyola University Maryland


Common Text

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Picture of the book cover to Sarah Smarsh's Heartland During their time on campus, the Class of 2023 will join the Loyola community in exploring what it means to be an Ignatian Citizen. The Loyola University Strategic Plan, 2017-2022 describes Ignatian citizens as people who "think of themselves as part of something larger, as responsible for the betterment of our shared world; as men and women who think and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed.” As Ignatian Citizens of the United States, we must recognize that we are a nation divided by class, and that life is profoundly difficult for those born into poverty. The ability to develop empathy and understanding of our neighbors becomes even more challenging when poverty is overlaid with differences in race, gender, and the divide between urban and rural communities. To better understand the injustices and complexity of poverty, we have selected Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth as the 2019 Loyola Common Text.

Loyola faculty members, administrators, and students chose this book largely because of the powerful questions it raises about the fundamental assumptions and underlying logic of American society. In her memoir, Sarah Smarsh recounts her experiences with family, education, and the violence that defined many of the relationships between men and women while growing up in Kansas. She brings into focus what it means to grow up poor and invisible, to be forgotten Americans who live in what is called “flyover country.”  

Heartland promises an introduction to the depth of thought, imagination, and challenge you can expect from your time at Loyola. We look forward to reading along with you and entering into a conversation that enlightens and enriches your college experience.

Members of the Class of 2023 will receive a copy of Heartland during summer orientation and it will be integrated into class discussions and programming throughout their first year on the Evergreen campus. 

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