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Summer Reading Assignment


WVU's Campus Read

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman has been selected as the 2024-25 WVU Campus Read. All incoming Honors College students are expected to read this book during the summer months. ***

The WVU Campus Read program is an academically-driven common read experience that engages students, faculty, staff, and even members of the Morgantown community, to share ideas and think critically through thoughtful dialogue.

We ask that you delve into the material a little deeper and reflect on the book before starting your classes this fall. The Campus Read examines deep, complex issues that may be triggering to some. If you feel the need, please reach out to counselors at the WVU Carruth Center at 304-293-4431. You can also request an appointment online.


Life can seem unfair, chaotic and unsettling at times. In this year’s Campus Read, The Complete Maus, Art Speigelman shares he and his father’s story of human rights abuse, generational trauma, memory, and the complexity of racism, morality, and survival.

Throughout this meta-biography, Spiegelman remains committed to capturing his father’s story. Ultimately, his commitment to capturing historical events experienced by his family members becomes his life’s work.

Here at the Honors College, we encourage you to learn about the experiences of other people through examining diverse voices and narrative. How will you make meaning of your own life experiences and the experiences of others?

The Honors experience is about becoming more of who you really are. We will support you during your time in the Honors College and encourage you to uncover, discover and develop the real you.

Through the Honors College Summer Reading Assignment, we encourage you to think critically, consider all options to make the best possible decisions, and work toward becoming the best version of yourself. Active reflection, after all, is an integral part of higher education, and what makes the college experience something that is invaluable and life-changing.

Your Assignment

The Honors College has developed three prompts for you based on the graphic novel. The use of ChatGPT and other AI generative technologies should not be used for this assignment.

Choose One Prompt

For prompts 1 and 2, write an essay that is:

  • 1200-1500 words
  • double-spaced
  • 12-point font size
  • Times New Roman
  • one-inch margins
  • APA or MLA format
  • Include a cover page with your name, title of assignment and date
Note that prompt 3 involves the creation of a video or digital narrative rather than an essay (see prompt 3 for specific requirements). Your essay, digital narrative or video is due on Friday, Aug. 30, 2024, by 11:59 p.m. You will submit your work to your HONR 102 mentors via eCampus. eCampus will be available starting Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2024.

Prompt 1

Throughout the book, Art Spiegelman interjects a few conversations between Artie and his dad, Vladek. These conversations imply there may be tension, misunderstanding and frustration between father and son. From the short conversation they had beginning on page 6 to the complex emotions Artie expresses on pages 174-176, it is apparent that generational trauma and guilt ravaged Artie and Vladek’s relationship.

  • Do you think either of them recognized that trauma was influencing their relationship? If so, how did you see it manifest in the story, in the actions of their characters, etc.?
  • How could they have tried to better understand each other and attempt to heal generational trauma?

Use specific examples from the book to highlight where you think they could have improved their relationship.

Prompt 2

In this story, Art Spiegelman depicts human beings as three different animal species. He portrayed one group of people as mice, another as cats and another as pigs. His categorization of human beings into these three distinct species is vital to the story he wants to tell.

  • How does that portrayal help him reveal the hate and fear present in the Holocaust?
  • From your perspective, why does such hate and fear continue today? What can we do about it?

Provide specific examples from the book where you identified the worst in humanity and where you identified glimpses of hope.

Prompt 3

One of the very clear themes from Maus is that of generational trauma, which is defined as the “harmful effects of historical mistreatment or abuse. The symptoms of these traumas are passed down from generation to generation,” according to Therapist Reshawna Chapple, Ph.D. LCSW.

Here are several articles that may help you better understand generational trauma:

Although generational trauma is often used when describing the experiences of the survivors of the Holocaust, it is also prevalent among people whose ancestors were enslaved, witnessed violence, were immigrants, were impoverished, or were part of some other historical abuse, and whose descendants still feel the effects of that mistreatment.

  • Did your grandfather or great grandfather fight in a war? How have his stories affected your life? Do you think it affected other members of your generation?
  • Was your grandmother or great grandmother allowed to have her own credit card? Did she have access to reliable birth control?  Did she ever have a job?  Did they treat her differently there, or pay her the same rate as the men?  Have any of her stories of those situations affected your attitudes or life?
  • Were any of your ancestors really poor during the depression?  Were they ever subjected to class bias or race bias?  Have those stories changed the way you look at the world? 
  • Was someone in your family witness to a historical event that still shapes the way that you, their descendant, thinks and behaves?

Create a video or digital narrative using Adobe Express to discuss your experience with generational trauma that includes:

The video or digital narrative must include:

  • A thesis statement.
  • At least 7 photographs with 3-5 sentences of narrative for each photo that support the thesis. Students are welcome to use pictures of themselves, their lives, their books, their family, or whatever photographs they feel relates to their experience with generational trauma. You are welcome to integrate pictures from Maus as well. (Digital Narrative)
  • At least 45 seconds of information that supports your thesis in a cohesive narrative. (Video)
  • An explanation of what the generational trauma has to do with Maus.
  • An explanation of how the trauma of your ancestors has affected you and other descendants of other people who lived through the same traumatic historical event.
  • Music, pictures, narrative and videos that creatively illustrate your main thesis.
Here are some examples of previous projects:


The assignment will be graded out of a total of 100 points. The assignment rubrics are available below.

Assignment Rubrics

For questions about the summer reading assignment, please email

*** If you would prefer to complete an alternate assignment, please email us by August 2 to request that information.