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Union Ave. Books

Public Books Masterclass

A Partnership with Union Avenue Books

Union Ave. BooksWould you like to attend a terrific book discussion led by a UT expert without leaving your home?

The UT Humanities Center has formed a regional partnership with Union Avenue Books, downtown Knoxville’s independent bookstore, to create a free public book discussion masterclass. The meetings feature a UT faculty expert who will lead the discussion and provide key insights on the texts.

We encourage you to buy your book from Union Ave Books, which would appreciate your support. On the day of the discussion, you can join a University of Tennessee faculty member in an online book discussion via Zoom. Our UT faculty read widely and deeply into perspectives ranging from the ancients to the moderns, from work in ancient archeology to contemporary poetry, new economic theory, and media studies. Join us to hear an expert in the field talk about the major ideas of a text that you have read, and engage in an enlightening discussion!

How it works:

  • When you purchase your book, RSVP for the online masterclass discussion at RSVP@unionavebooks.com and you will be sent a link to the Zoom discussion for that book.

Join us for a Zoom discussion of the book with a member of the UT faculty!

LINK TO UNION AVE BOOKS

Schedule

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of DiscoveryOn Earth Day 2020, writer Margaret Dean and astronaut Scott Kelly "Zoom in" to discuss the 2017 national bestseller Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. The book details Kelly's life, as well as that of his twin brother Mark, as they became naval aviators and test pilots and then were both selected for NASA Astronaut Group 16. The book has been called "A stunning, personal memoir  [and]—a message of hope for the future that will inspire for generations to come." Jaroslav Kalfar of The New York Times Book Review wrote that the book is  “Captivating, charming.... Endurance offers brilliant insight into the human aspect of space travel."

Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 6:00 PM

We can host up to 300 people on Zoom, first come, first served. When you purchase your book, RSVP for the online masterclass discussion at RSVP@unionavebooks.com and you will be sent a link to the Zoom discussion for that book.

Margaret Lazarus Dean is associate professor of English at UT, where she teaches fiction writing and nonfiction writing. She is the author of the novel The Time It Takes to Fall (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight (Graywolf Press, 2015), a work of creative nonfiction that documents the final year of the space shuttle program, won the 2013 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, and was reviewed by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times Book Review.

Scott Joseph Kelly is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired astronaut, and a retired U.S. Navy captain. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission to the ISS. In October 2015, he set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. He retired from NASA in 2016. He is the author of Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery (2017), the children's book My Journey to the Stars (2017), and Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut's Photographs from a Year in Space (2018).


An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (for Young People)Professor Lisa King and author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will lead a discussion of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (for Young People).

The book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese, is the first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples and is an adaptation for younger readers of the 2015 winner of the American Book Award by the same name. Booklist noted that the book was “meticulously documented” and that “this thought-provoking treatise is sure to generate discussion.” Peterson Zah, former president of the Navajo Nation, has written that “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States provides an essential historical reference for all Americans.”

Date: Wednesday, April 29
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Zoom Online

Lisa King is associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research interests include cultural rhetorics with an emphasis in contemporary Native American and Indigenous rhetorics, visual rhetorics, and material rhetorics. She works with cross-cultural sites such as Indigenous museums and cultural centers and advocates the teaching of Indigenous texts in rhetoric and composition classrooms.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is professor emerita at California State University and author or editor of 13 books, including Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, An Indigenous Peoples' history of the United States, and Loaded: A Disarming History of the 2nd Amendment.

The Line That Held UsDr. William Hardwig, UT associate professor of English, will lead a discussion about David Joy’s novel The Line That Held Us.

Published in 2018, The Line That Held Us is set in Appalachia and has been called an example of “Southern noir literature.” It tells the story of an accidental death and the cover-up that follows. When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck, a kill that could make the difference between meat for the winter and an empty freezer, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. His act sparks a dark series of events that reverberates through the lives of four people.

David Joy’s first novel, Where All Light Tends to Go, debuted to great acclaim and was named an Edgar finalist for Best First Novel. His stories and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications and he is the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey. His essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Garden & Gun, and his essay “Digging in the Trash: How Poor Southerners are Seen” was published by the website The Bitter Southerner and was part of an interview by National Public Radio. David Joy lives in Webster, North Carolina.

Date: Wednesday, May 6
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Zoom Online

Professor William Hardwig, our discussion leader, teaches and researches American Literature, especially Southern and Appalachian literature and the idea of regionalism. He is the author of Upon Provincialism: Southern Literature and National Periodical Culture, 1870-1900. He has also co-edited the award-winning Approaches to Teaching the Work of Charles W. Chesnutt and edited a scholarly edition of In the Tennessee Mountains, written by Mary Noailles. His website project dedicated to Knoxville’s literary history is titled Literary Knox.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the BlitzUT professor of history Dr Vejas Liulevicius will lead a discussion about Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.

A New York Times #1 bestseller, Larson’s book tells the amazing true-to-life story of one of the most pivotal and anxious moments in modern history. In 1940-1941, at the outset of World War II, embattled Britain stood alone against a victorious Nazi Germany. The new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, would have to lead his country through peril to triumph against all odds. This book brings to life the family and friends around Churchill as he goes to war amid the Blitz. The result is an unforgettable work of non-fiction that NPR called “A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”

Date: Wednesday, May 13
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Zoom Online

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, our discussion leader, is Distinguished Professor in the Humanities in the UT History Department and director of the UT Center for the Study of War and Society. He has authored two books on German relations with Eastern Europe: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East: 1800 to the Present. He also has produced eight recorded lecture series with the Great Courses company on topics that include global explorers, turning points of modern history, espionage, World War I, diplomacy, dictatorships, the history of Eastern Europe, and communism.

Urmila Seshagiri, UT associate professor of English, will lead a discussion of Salman Rushdie’s novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

Originally published in 1990, Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a magical adventure for readers of all ages. When the famous storyteller Rashid Khalifa opens his mouth and can’t say anything other than “Ark!”, eleven-year-old Haroun goes on an odyssey to restore his father’s storytelling abilities. Encounters with a genie, a princess, a shadow warrior, and a dark villain teach Haroun the answer to an age-old question: “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

Salman Rushdie is the author of twelve novels, one collection of short stories, and four works of nonfiction, and he has co-edited two anthologies. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. A former president of PEN American Center, Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Professor Urmila Seshagiri, our discussion leader, is associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and specializes in modernism and contemporary fiction. She teaches classes on international literature, women’s writing, and experimental novels. Dr. Seshagiri is the author of the study Race and the Modernist Imagination and is editing the first scholarly edition of Virginia Woolf’s memoir A Sketch of the Past for publication by Cornell University Press.

UT Professor of History Ernest Freeberg will lead a discussion of the novel Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams.

Along with John Williams’s other novels, this elegantly written 1960 western has recently enjoyed a much-deserved revival. In the 1870s, a young man from Boston goes west, driven by a romantic desire to connect with Nature. He finds it in drastic form when he joins a hunt for the last great buffalo herd. Sometimes compared to Cormac McCarthy’s revisionist westerns, the novel helps us think about the American myth of the West, a place on the frontier of civilization where human nature gets put to the test.

John Edward Williams (1922-1994) was an American author. He was best known for his novels Butcher's Crossing (1960), Stoner (1965), and Augustus (1972), which won a U.S. National Book Award. He was the founding editor of the Denver Quarterly, a literary journal, and worked at the University of Denver as director of the creative writing program and Lawrence Phipps Professor of the Humanities.

Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Ernest Freeberg is head of the UT History Department and a UT Distinguished Professor. His teaching and research interests center on the cultural and intellectual history of the United States in the 19th and early 20th century. He is the author of The Education of Laura Bridgman, which won the American Historical Association’s Dunning Prize; Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, The Great War, and the Right to Dissent; The Age of Edison; and the forthcoming A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement.

Trust ExerciseHilary Havens, UT associate professor of English, will lead a discussion about Susan Choi’s novel Trust Exercise.

Winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction and a national bestseller, Trust Exercise is set in an American suburb in the early 1980s with students at a highly competitive performing arts high school. In this “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall in love. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure, and of their future adult lives penetrates the school’s walls in shocking events that are not made clear until the book’s stunning coda. The publisher notes that “As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Susan Choi's Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, and about friendships and loyalties.”

Susan Choi is the author of the novels My Education, American Woman, A Person of Interest, and The Foreign Student. Her work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award and winner of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award and the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. With David Remnick, she co-edited Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker. She lives in Brooklyn.

Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Professor Hilary Havens, our discussion leader, is assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she teaches classes on 18th-century literature, the novel, and digital humanities. She is the author of Revising the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Authorship from Manuscript to Print and the editor of Didactic Novels and British Women's Writing, 1790-1820.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern IrelandMonica Black, UT associate professor of history, will lead a discussion about Patrick Radden Keefe’s nonfiction book Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.

Say Nothing takes on the bitter mid-century conflict in Northern Ireland. In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was abducted from her home, one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. The brutal violence seared the McConville children but also members of the I.R.A. The nonfiction book conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish; it won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, was a New York Times Top 10 Book of the Year, and was longlisted for the National Book Award.

Called by Rolling Stone an “obsessive reporter and researcher, a master of narrative nonfiction,” Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and the author of three books. He received the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing in 2014, and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016. Winner of Guggenheim and Wilson Center fellowships, he is also the host of Wind of Change, an 8-part podcast series on espionage and music.

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Professor Monica Black, our discussion leader, is an associate professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and researches the history of modern Europe. She is the co-editor of the journal Central European History and is the author of Death in Berlin: From Weimar to Divided Germany; her new book, A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany, will be published this fall.

Christopher Hebert, UT assistant professor of English, will lead a discussion about Valeria Luiselli’s novel Lost Children Archive.

Lost Children Archive was a New York Times Top 10 Book of the Year, won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize. The novel concerns a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border. The family’s destination is Apacheria—the place the Apaches once called home—but as the family drives, they are led to a harrowing adventure both in the desert landscape and within their own imaginations.

Valeria Luiselli is the author of the essay collection Sidewalks, the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth, and the long essay Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and an American Book Award, and was a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Professor Christopher Hebert, our discussion leader, is an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the creative writing division. He is the author of the novels Angels of Detroit and The Boiling Season and isco-editor of Stories of Nation: Fictions, Politics, and the American Experience. He is a former senior editor for the University of Michigan Press.

A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra BlandDr. Katy Chiles, UT associate professor of English, will lead a discussion about DaMaris Hill’s narrative-in-verse, A Bound Woman Is A Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland.

From Harriet Tubman to Assata Shakur, Ida B. Wells to Sandra Bland and Black Lives Matter, black women freedom fighters have braved violence, scorn, despair, and isolation in order to lodge their protests. In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, DaMaris Hill honors their experiences with at times harrowing, at times hopeful responses in narrative verse, presenting bitter, unflinching and passionate odes to Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, and others who engaged the legacy of struggle.

DaMaris B. Hill, Ph.D., is an associate professor of creative writing and Africana studies at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing and The Fluid Boundaries of Suffrage and Jim Crow: Staking Claims in the American Heartland, and chapbook of poems entitled \ Vi-zə-bəl \ \ Teks-chərs \(Visible Textures). She has held fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and her scholarly research examines the intersections between literary criticism, cultural studies, and digital humanities.

Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Professor Katy Chiles, our discussion leader, teaches and writes about African American and Native American literature, early American literature and culture, and critical race theory. Her research has been supported by the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her book, Transformable Race:  Surprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America, was published by Oxford University Press, and she is currently working on another book project that examines race and collaboration in early American literature.

Dr. Amy J. Elias, UT Lindsay Young Professor of English and director of the UT Humanities Center, will lead a discussion about Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory.

Called by The Times of London “a big novel that tells us as much about trees as Moby-Dick does about whales,” The Overstory is a series of interlocking stories that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and echo the interconnected lives led by trees. Inspired by a documentary about environmental activists from the Redwood Summer of 1990, The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance to the destruction of the natural world. It won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the 2020 William Dean Howells Medal.

Richard Powers is the author of twelve novels. His novels of ideas explore the human implications of modern science and technology ranging from artificial intelligence to music composition. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Award, and he has won the Pulitzer Prize and been a four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Zoom online

Professor Amy J. Elias, our discussion leader, is Lindsay Young Professor of English and the director of the UT Humanities Center. Her research fields include contemporary literature and science fiction, time and history studies, narrative theory, and cross-disciplinary aesthetics. She has been the author or editor of the prize-winning Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction; Time: A Vocabulary of the Present; and The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the 21st Century. She was the principal founder of ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, the founding co-editor of the prize-winning periodical ASAP/Journal, and is working on a book about dialogue.

Have questions? Email us at humanitiesctr@utk.edu or contact Union Ave Books at 865-951-2180.


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