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The Big Sea by Langston Hughes is the text for the 2015-16 Penn Reading Project (PRP). On the afternoon of Monday, August 24, 2015, groups of first-year students and faculty leaders discuss the book as part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2019.
The Big Sea is an elegantly structured memoir (in short essays) of Hughes' early experiences, and a chronicle of his self-realization and invention. Hughes explores his early life, growing up in an African American family in the Midwest; later, he would travel extensively to Mexico, France, and Africa where his sense of identity would be questioned, formed, and redefined. Throughout the book, Hughes’ personal discoveries are set in broader contexts, including the extraordinary world of the Harlem Renaissance, in which he was one of the primary creative artists.