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Hillbilly Elegy: Home

The resource guide for the 2017-18 Common Experience book selection, J.D. Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy"

                         Hillbilly Elegy

Campus Visits

Campus Visits

Clarence Page

Thursday, October 26, 2017
7:30 p.m.
Bowen-Thompson Student Union
Lenhart Grand Ballroom

Clarence Page Registration

J.D Vance

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
7:30 p.m.
Bowen-Thompson Student Union
Lenhart Grand Ball Room

J.D Vance Page Registration

The 2017-2018 Common Reading Selection

The 2017-2018 Common Reading Selection

The office of the Provost is delighted to announce the common reading selection for 2017-2018, "Hillbilly Elegy," a memoir by J.D. Vance that looks deeply into his own struggles, the struggles of Appalachian Americans and the struggles of America's working class, as seen in the life of an individual from Middletown, Ohio.

This book was chosen following an intensive review of many books, by both the Common Reading Committee and by a large number of students, faculty, and staff. The support for "Hillbilly Elegy" was overwhelming, and the book is an excellent choice for accommodating the year's Common Experience theme: "Persistence, Resilience, and Grit."

Incoming first-time, full-time students were required to read the book prior to coming to BGSU in the fall.

What is the Common Reading?

What is the Common Experience?


How to approach Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy is both an intriguing and difficult read at the same time, not so much in the style of narrative J.D. Vance lays out, but in the way he touches on deeply rooted social, political, and personal intersections-those which so many people feel permeate or reflect into their own lives. The book comes out at a time when the United States faces tremendous questions about its many identities and norms. These are just some of the many reasons readers will either praise Vance’s words or see them as problematic. When reading, it is important to remember that Vance shares a personal narrative situated around his family and the Appalachian culture through his own experiences and interpretations. This is to say the book presents one perspective of the types of people, places, and situations found in the Appalachians, whereas many more clearly exist. Indeed, the Appalachian region has many times over become the subject of both academic discussion and stereotyped tropes in popular cultural. Although Hillbilly Elegy doesn’t claim to directly speak to either of these realms, it certainly has tangential connections to these areas as its content creates points of analysis, discussion, or even debate. For the academic community surrounding the Common Read, Hillbilly Elegy shines for its wealth of talking points and for starting a larger campus conversation about the persistence, resilience, and grit that defines our own identities and cultures. 

BGSU 2017-2018 Theme


Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.


The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.


Courage and resolve; strength of character.


Navigating the LibGuide

Our hope is to have an intuitive LibGuide that is both engaging and user friendly. To help make this possible, we have constructed the guide with a set of tabs that break down the sections of the guide. Users may explore these tabs as wished because there is no particular set progression through the guide. In fact, users may need to jump around many times. Throughout the guide, several words may be highlighted in orange.  In most cases, these will represent clickable hyperlinks. If a hand icon appears when the mouse is hovered over the orange word(s), try clicking on the link. Some images will also act as hyperlinks when the mouse hovers over them. A few examples include the map on J.D Vance's biography and several of the banners in the tools section of the "Project Ideas" tab. Also, this guide contains many podcasts and videos. Simply look for the play button to activate these. The videos will play in their container or a new tab so the user will never need to completely leave the LibGuide page. Sometimes it can be helpful to view videos full screen to see more detail or for the purpose of projecting the video on a larger screen. Simply click on the expand/full screen button on the video. Also, instructors can use the LibGuide link in their Canvas shell if desired. These are just some of the basic ways to navigate and interact with the Hillbilly Elegy LibGuide. Of course, the best way to learn all the possibilities is to start exploring.


The content and design for this guide were developed by Marshall Saenz and the 2017 Common Reading Committee