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Student volunteers from the Carol Tatkon Center an intellectual, cultural, and drop-in center to help all first-year students have a successful and inspiring first year, and the Orientation Steering Committee read Lincoln at Gettysburg this year... below are their identified themes, some may help in your reading of the book, your written response, and in the discussion groups.

Tatkon Student Staff

Carol Tatkon Center Student Staff
Back Row-left to right Jasen Bell, Dana Lin, Naditha Romachandran, Galina Tan, David Lee, Adam Taylor, Tim Wickham Middle Row-left to right Mary Cirella, Stephanie Wickham, Samantha Wickham, Christine Kelly, Aleshadye Getachew, Jessica Vasquez First Row (sitting)-left to right Kerone Jones, Rina Wolok, Stephanie Pompelia, Wing Kay Fok, Nicole Mangiere, Jessica Longoria, Ariela Rutkin-Becker Hallie Seegal (not in photo)

2008 Orientation Steering Committee

2008 Orientation Steering Committee
Back row-left to right Emily Krebs, Alejandro Haezaert-Caraveo, Lorelei Stoica, Akshay Shekhar, Eric Oh, Paul Delgado, Andrew Heilmann Front row-left to right Steve Linderman, Jason Winchester, Emma Nagle, Weston Skeans, Laura Kozakiewicz, Scott Malamut, Lizzi Huff

 Death and War

  • Celebration of death
    • Public commemoration
    • Respect
    • Different cultural perspectives and approaches
    • Cemetery architecture
  • War
    • Active versus passive war (Civil War vs. Cold War)
    • Domestic versus foreign enemy
    • Wartime economy


  • Economics of enslavement
  • Guilt
  • Slavery and the Industrial Revolution
  • Legacy of slavery

Historical Impact

  • Looking to history to frame present/future
  • Potential future if Confederacy had won


  • Defining a United States citizen
  • Gender (little to no presence of women in book)
  • Ethnicity/race
  • Role in society
  • Roots (tracing one's past)
    • Inability to trace roots — how this impacts identity

International Perspectives

  • United States in the international community
    • Global perspective of the "American" and the US
    • Present foreign policy


  • Heroism
  • Hope (in the face of despair)
  • Passive vs. active leadership
  • Range of leadership styles

Rhetoric and Media

  • Speeches as entertainment
  • Technology (shifting our conception of entertainment)
  • Words taken out of context (sound bytes)
  • Speeches
    • Key silences
    • Power/impact of words
    • Power of things unsaid
      • Lack of definitive terms

Politics and Political Transitions

  • Are politics personal/impersonal?
  • Challenge to power, authority, and norms
  • Propaganda and political strategy
  • Ethnicity/race and gender
  • The image and role of the "President's wife"
  • Enfranchisement      
  • Transitions
    • Cultural transitions mirroring political ones
    • Peaceful transitions
    • Revolutions
      • Violent transitions necessary?


  • Forgiving/not forgetting
  • Political groups
  • Race and gender
  • Vs. division
    • Anti-miscegenation laws
    • Generational gaps in beliefs