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Public Book Circle

Public Books Circle

A public reading and discussion group

Would you like to attend a terrific book discussion led by a UT expert without leaving your home?

The UT Humanities Center now offers a free public book discussion online! Students, faculty, and members of the public are all welcome. We will help you to keep reading and learning at all stages and walks of life.

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:

  • Check the discussion schedule below to find a book that you really want to read and discuss with others (we hope you choose them all!)
  • Register for the book discussion meeting by clicking on the registration link (you'll be sent a confirmation email with your own unique link to the discussion)
  • Buy a copy of the book or check it out from the library to read.
  • Read, enjoy, and join the book discussion online on the date of the event!

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

Our Discussion Schedule

Fall 2022 - Spring 2023
All discussions start at 7:00 pm Eastern

Please note: We are in the process of updating our website - Registration links will be coming soon!


Discussion Leader


Registration link

September 7, 2022

Jon Garthoff
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Philosophy

Discussion of Peter Godfrey-Smith’s book, Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind


October 12, 2022

Amy J. Elias
Chancellor’s Professor of English
Director, UT Humanities Center

Discussion of Robin Wall Kimmerer's book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants


November 9, 2022

Lisi M. Schoenbach
Associate Professor
Department of English

Discussion of Jenny Odell's book, How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy


February 8, 2023

Sara Ritchey
Department of History


Discussion of Lauren Groff's book, Matrix: A Novel Register
March 8, 2023

Megan Bryson
Associate Professor & Associate Head of East Asian Religions
Department of Religious Studies

Discussion of Duncan Ryūken Williams’s book, American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War Register
April 12
Beauvais Lyons
Chancellor's Professor, Ellen McClung Berry Professor
School of Art
Discussion of Antoinette LaFarge's book, Sting in the Tale: Art, Hoax, and Provocation Register


Past Meetings


Discussion Leader


Wednesday, September 8

Martin Griffin,
Associate Professor of English

The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984
by Dorian Lynskey

Wednesday, October 13

Amy J. Elias, UTHC Director

Appleseed: A Novel
by Matt Bell


Wednesday, November 10

Robert Bast, Associate Professor of History

The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance and Forty Years that Shook the World, 1490-1530
by Patrick Wyman

Wednesday, December 8

Hilary Havens, Associate Director of English


Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Wednesday, February 2

Urmila Seshagiri, Associate Professor of English

Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri

Wednesday, March 2 Dawn Coleman, Associate Professor of English God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning
by Meghan O’Gieblyn

April 6

Rosalind Hackett, Emerita Professor of Religious Studies

by Edna O’Brien


Discussion Leader


Wednesday, January 20

Ann Pancake, author, and
Amy J. Elias, UTHC Director

Strange as This Weather Has Been
by Ann Pancake

Wednesday, February 3

Tina Shepardson, Professor of Religious Studies, and
Erin Darby, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

The Bible With and Without Jesus
by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler


Wednesday, February 17

Katy Chiles, Associate Professor of English

The Age of Phillis
by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Wednesday, March 3

Matthew  Brauer, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, MFLL

Wanderlust: A History of Walking
by Rebecca Solnit

Wednesday, March 17

Dan Magilow, Professor of German, MFLL

What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry Into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley
by Adrian Daub

Wednesday, April 7

Dawn Coleman, Associate Professor of English

A Children’s Bible: A Novel
by Lydia Millet

Wednesday, April 21

Roy Liuzza, Professor of English

Beowulf: A New Translation
by Maria Headley

Wednesday, May 5

R.E. Toledo, Distinguished Lecturer of Spanish, MFLL

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn

Wednesday, May 19

Heather Hirschfeld, Professor of English

by Maggie O'Farrell

Wednesday, June 2

Georgi Gardiner, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women
by Kate Manne

April 22, 2020

Margaret Lazarus Dean, Dept. of English, and Scott Kelly

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly with Margaret Lazarus Dean

April 29, 2020

Lisa King, Department of English, and author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States For Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

May 6, 2020

William Hardwig, Dept. of English

The Line that Held Us by David Joy

May 13, 2020

Vejas Liulevicius, Dept. of History

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga ofChurchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
By Erik Larsen

May 20, 2020

Urmila Seshagiri, Dept. of English

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

May 27, 2020

Ernest Freeberg, Dept. of History

Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams

June 3, 2020

Hilary Havens, Dept. of English

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

June 10, 2020

Monica Black, Dept. of History

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

June 17, 2020

Christopher Hebert, Dept. of English

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

June 24, 2020

Katy Chiles, Dept. of English

A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland by DaMaris Hill

July 1, 2020

Amy Elias, Dept. of English and Director, UTHC

The Overstory by Richard Powers