Guide to Reading Hope Jahren’s “Lab Girl”


Welcome to the Syracuse University Community! We are excited to have you join us in conversations about Hope Jahren’s “Lab Girl” in the fall. As a way to help guide your reading (and practice some important skills as a reader) we ask that you do the following:

Record Three “Flashpoints”

Composition scholar Joe Harris describes a flashpoint as a quote that resonates with you, that reflects a moment of high interest in the text. It’s not so much a “main idea” as it is something that provokes you, that challenges your previous assumptions, that encourages new thinking (and writing!) about a topic or an event or phenomenon.

  • Choose three short passages of no more than 3 sentences (flashpoints!) from “Lab Girl” and copy or rewrite them on a separate page (record the page they came from).
  • Bring these flashpoint passages to campus with you in the fall

These “Flashpoints” will be used to guide discussion in your SEM 100 course. “Lab Girl” has a myriad of interesting discussion topics from friendship to resilience. You are encouraged to select flashpoints with a wide diversity of topics.