Kabuki: The Alchemy Selected for Incoming First-Years at Northern Kentucky Univ.

I knew that many colleges these days had programs where they required all incoming first-year students to read the same book, but I wasn’t aware that they were using graphic novels.

Kabuki: The Alchemy cover

Northern Kentucky University has announced that they have chosen Kabuki: The Alchemy as their 2011 Book Connection selection, which means that “incoming freshman students will receive a copy of The Alchemy at summer orientation. Faculty from a variety of disciplines will use the graphic novel in first-year courses, drawing from themes such as identity, diversity, creativity, and transformation.”

The school promotes itself as “one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky” that provides “a private school education for a fraction of the cost.” It’s clear from the press release that the school is still working through what this means, explaining that ” a graphic novel [is] also defined as a narrative expressed through sequential art and text” and that their library “has an extensive collection holding literary graphic novels and superhero comic books, among others.”

Kabuki author David Mack is an alumnus of NKU, located near Cincinnati, where he graduated with a BFA in graphic design. His senior thesis later became Kabuki: Circle of Blood, the first in this series. Mack will participate in events at the school in October, during which “freshmen and community members … ask questions and have a dialogue with the author.”

A quick Google shows that this isn’t the first time a graphic novel was chosen for a similar program — Persepolis was used at Ithaca College in 2008. However, while that is a relatively straightforward read, Kabuki: The Alchemy has a more artistic bent, with a much stronger use of symbolism and suggestion. It’s an excellent choice with a lot of approaches to the material possible.

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