Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

One Book One Campus: Orange is the New Black: Home

Resources for students hoping to explore issues central to the 2014-2015 One Book One Campus selection "Orange is the New Black" in greater depth, including the prison system, motherhood, and female relationships.

What is One Book One Campus?

One Book One Campus is all about community. Each year, a panel of key university representatives compiles a list of books for the Chancellor to select from. The book selected spurs new programs and curriculum on the topics it confronts. Lectures and discussions are meant to promote a sense of fellowship while allowing all members of campus to be present in an important dialogue. 

Discussion Questions

The Orange is the New Black website provides a list of discussion questions. These could be used in a classroom, book club, or informal discussion setting.

Some examples include: 

-Many crimes related to the sale of illegal drugs are nonviolent crimes; how do they compare with the sale of legal products that are unhealthy or dangerous, like cigarettes or guns? Nonviolent drug offenses are the reason the majority of the women in the book are in prison; should low-level nonviolent drug offenders be put in prison?

-Piper’s first taste of prison comes when she surrenders herself to the guards at Danbury. Throughout the memoir, the prisoners endure a number of humiliating tasks at the hands of the guards—arguably, the most vivid being the naked squat/cough ritual after every visitation. Interestingly, though, the incidents that most affect Piper seem to be when one guard refuses to call her by her last name at mail call, sexual harassment from her boss on the electrical job, and a gruff, uncomfortable gynecological exam. Why do you think that is? How do these humiliating encounters shape her view of prison life and of the psychic effects of incarceration on prisoners?


This guide serves as an informational resource for Illinois students and staff hoping to learn more about the 2014-2015 One Book One Campus selection, Orange is the New Black. Here you'll find more information on:

  • Potential research topics involving the prison system and women
  • Discussion questions and ideas for the classroom or small group
  • Biographical information about Piper and her visit to campus
  • Important criminal justice statistics, including incarceration rates
  • Recommended resources for searching on these topics

The infographic above was adapted from the Undergraduate Library's infographic template. All information on the infographic is also accessible on this LibGuide in screen-readable text

Upcoming Events

Piper Kerman is coming to campus to speak about Orange is the New Black

  • Wednesday, December 3rd at 7PM
  • Illini Union Rooms A,B, & C