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daytripperDaytripper, an award-winning Brazilian graphic narrative that offers a powerful examination of life, love, and other timeless themes, will be UT’s 2014 Life of the Mind book.

The book, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, won the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

The Life of the Mind Program is a component of First-Year Studies 100, a required online course that helps first-year students transition successfully to college. As part of the course, students read the book and submit a creative response prior to arriving on campus and participate in a small-group discussion session during Welcome Week.

The Life of the Mind committee members said Daytripper showcases creativity—the 2014 Life of the Mind theme—through its storyline, as well as through the meticulous drawings and lush colors that saturate every page.

Daytripper pulls readers into the vibrant, lovingly detailed landscapes of the authors’ home country of Brazil while depicting pivotal moments central to the human experience, regardless of nationality,” said Jason Mastrogiovanni, director of First-Year Studies. “First kiss, first love, first heartbreak, first job, first child—these are the moments upon which life turns.”

Committee members said Daytripper will resonate with UT’s newest students as they undergo some of their own lives’ biggest firsts. The protagonist’s story is a search for identity, for purpose, for happiness, and for his own legacy—the mark he’ll leave on his family’s continued narrative and that of his country and culture. With each chapter, his life transforms, whether by something as small as a trip to the market or as large as losing a friend.

“Each chapter demonstrates the vulnerability and promise of transitions, a combination UT’s Class of 2018 will certainly recognize as they navigate their own changing lives,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life Melissa Shivers said.

Daytripper represents a first for UT as well: It is the first time a graphic narrative has been selected as the Life of the Mind common book.

“While a departure from a traditional novel, it will introduce students to an exciting and acclaimed medium that is drawing increasing critical attention, as evidenced by the explosive rise in scholarship and coursework on graphic narratives,” said Provost Susan Martin, noting that graphic narratives have a strong presence not just in popular culture, but also in education and scholarship, including at UT, where an upper-division English course has recently been created on graphic novels and comics. “Instructors across curriculums are using the ideographic nature of graphic novels to challenge and excite students with a new way of reading, and what better fit for the theme of creativity than a book that requires a creative approach?”

First-Year Studies invites faculty and staff who would like to serve as discussion leaders for this year’s Life of the Mind program to submit their information here. Discussion leaders will lead a group of first-year students in discussion of the text and its themes during Welcome Week and, if desired, accompany students to the Life of the Mind event that follows.

Discussion leader training will take place from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 6, and from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12. Participants may pick one session to attend.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,