Loyola University Maryland


Common Text Events


Each year, the University chooses a Common Text for all first-year students to read before arriving at Loyola. In addition to discussing Picture of the book cover to Sarah Smarsh's Heartland this Common Text with your academic advisor and other students enrolled in your Messina course during Welcome Weekend, Messina sponsors events throughout the year to address themes raised by the book. 

Friday, August 30, 2019
Fall Welcome Weekend Common Text Panel Discussion

We welcome you, Loyola’s newest scholars-in-residence, to our intellectual community by examining a text common to all of us. During this session, members of our Loyola community and others will reflect on the prevalence of rural poverty in America’s heartland using Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth to anchor the discussion. Members of the panel will discuss how they have come to understand issues of rural poverty experienced by men and women who work hard to get ahead but must deal with a lack of medical care and other resources, unsafe working conditions, and other problems as a result of reading Smarsh’s text. Panelists will also draw on their own research, engaged learning, and direct experience. Careful attention to this kick-off event will spark thought and benefit you as we continue our considerations of Heartland in the discussion sessions to follow, and throughout your Messina experience.

9:15 a.m. -10:45 a.m., Reitz Arena

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Rich Hill – The Challenges and Dreams of Teenagers in a Rural American Town (2013)

Rich Hill, Missouri could be any of the countless small towns that blanket America's heartland. But to teenagers Andrew, Harley and Appachey, it's home.
As they ride their skateboards, go to football practice, and arm wrestle their fathers, they are like millions of other boys coming of age. But faced with unfortunate circumstances - an imprisoned mother, isolation, instability, and parental unemployment - adolescence can be a day-to-day struggle just to survive. With no road map and all evidence to the contrary, they cling to the hope that hard work will be rewarded and even they can live the American dream. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. Official Selection at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Nominated for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting - Long Form at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards.

7:00pm at The Senator Theater, 5904 York Road

Messina is sponsoring a shuttle from the Loyola Notre Dame Library to the Senator Theatre. The shuttle will leave the library at 5pm, 5:30pm, 6:00pm and 6:30pm to drop off at the Senator Theatre. The bus will return after the film, at 8:30pm to shuttle folks back to campus. Tickets are free! Just be sure to bring your Loyola ID.

Thursday, September 26, 2019
The American Shakespeare Company's "Mortal Fools" Tour: The Grapes of Wrath       

This play is an adaption by Frank Galati  of  John Steinbeck's novel. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future.  Sponsored by the Honors Program, The Center for the Humanities and Messina.   

7:00 pm, McManus Theater

Tuesday, October 1

Baltimore Health Justice in Action

In 2012, Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., declared that “Those who stand with the poor are to erect structures of social, economic, and health care justice.” So, too, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in 2017 that health care is a fundamental human right, one which we all share and which we have a duty to promote for the common good. As a Jesuit, Catholic university anchored in Baltimore, how does Loyola leverage its resources in a responsible, collaborative way to support community partners who are committed to this work? Come hear personal and community stories about health care justice and join in discussions on how we all may contribute to positive change in Baltimore.
Sponsored by Loyola's Commitment to Justice, the Office of the VPAA, Campus Ministry, CCSJ, the Pre-Health Society, and Messina

7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., 4th Floor Program Room

Friday, November 8
Messina Welcomes Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Walter and Leonore Annenberg Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research areas include political communication, rhetorical theory and criticism, studies of various forms of campaign communication, and the discourse of the presidency.

She is the author or co-author of 15 books including: Presidents Creating the Presidency (University of Chicago Press, 2008), Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment (Oxford, 2008) and unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation (Random House, 2007). Her book, co-authored with Kate Kenski and Bruce Hardy, The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Messages Shaped the 2008 Election, received the 2010 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in the area of government and politics.

A Messina Common Text. Sponsored by the Writing Department with grants from the Center for the Humanities & Messina

5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., McGuire Hall

Thursday, November 21
Messina Welcomes Jonathan Metzl, Author of "Dying of Whiteness How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland"

Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl travels across America’s heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health. Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovers how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl’s systematic analysis of health data dramatically reveals they did just the opposite: these policies made life sicker, harder, and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid.  Thus, white gun suicides soared, life expectancies fell, and school dropout rates rose.

Powerful, searing, and sobering, Dying of Whiteness ultimately demonstrates just how much white America would benefit by emphasizing cooperation, rather than by chasing false promises of supremacy.

Jonathan M. Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and director of its Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. He is the author of several books and a prominent expert on gun violence and mental illness. He hails from Kansas City, Missouri, and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., McGuire Hall

Thursday, March 19- EVENT POSTPONED
Messina Welcomes Sarah Smarsh, Author of "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth"

Sarah Smarsh is the author of Heartland:  A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, which became an instant New York Times bestseller and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award.  She has covered socioeconomic class, politics, and public policy for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Texas Observer, Pacific Standard, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and many other publications. A 2018 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a former professor of nonfiction writing, Smarsh is a frequent speaker and media commentator on economic inequality. She lives in Kansas. 


If you are a member of the Loyola community who has an idea for an event associated with the Common Text, please visit our co-sponsorships page and submit an event proposal. 

Persons with disabilities who may require special services should contact the Office of Disability Support Services at 410-617-2062 at least 48 hours prior to the event. As noted below, some of these events are free and open to the public.


A group of students posing for a photo, with the harbor and Baltimore skyline in the background
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