Revolutionary Humanities!

For Spring 2014, the Humanities Division is excited to host a reading group on the theme of Revolution. Our idea is to look at how revolutionary moments, ideas, discoveries, technologies, and genres have changed our sense of what it means to be human. The reading list will allow us to look at explore seminal moments in political, religious, scientific, and cultural history. We will be reading non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and a graphic novel and be traveling across the globe and through many time periods. The books will look at revolutionary events from the past, from the mastery of fire and shifts in science to the Islamic Revolution and the growth of graphic novels as a genre. Our sense of revolution is not merely about politics but about the major transformations that have affected how we live, how we find and make meaning, and how we understand ourselves and our world.
We encourage students, Drury alumni, the Springfield community staff, and faculty to attend one or all of the discussions. At each event, we will have a discussion facilitator, water, and a light snack. This is not a class or lecture. Rather, this is an opportunity for  the community to come together and informally discuss books and ideas. We are particularly excited about our Revolutionary Poetry day when we will invite members of the book club to bring and read their favorite “revolutionary” poems – even those in foreign languages! We look forward to seeing you at the discussions and learning with you.

The schedule for the book readings is as follows (with summary excerpts taken from various sources linked to below). All meetings will be held in the Harwood Reading Room, Olin Library, on the Drury University Campus.


Tues, Jan 28th @ 3pm – Dava Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love

galileo-daughter(Taken from Random House): “Galileo Galilei was the foremost scientist of his day. Though he never left Italy, his inventions and discoveries were heralded around the world. His telescopes allowed him to reveal the heavens and enforce the astounding argument that the earth moves around the sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced to spend his last years under house arrest.

Galileo’s oldest child was thirteen when he placed her in a convent near him in Florence, where she took the most appropriate name of Suor Maria Celeste. Her support was her father’s greatest source of strength. Her presence, through letters which Sobel has translated from Italian and masterfully woven into the narrative, graces her father’s life now as it did then.

GALILEO’S DAUGHTER dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishment of a mythic figure whose seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion. Moving between Galileo’s public life and Maria Celeste’s sequestered world, Sobel illuminates the Florence of the Medicis and the papal court in Rome during an era when humanity’s perception of its place in the cosmos was overturned. With all the human drama and scientific adventure that distinguished Latitude, GALILEO’S DAUGHTER is an unforgettable story.”


Wednesday, Feb 12th, @ 2pm – Marjane Satrapi, Complete Persepolis


(Taken from Random House): “Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.”


Purple Wall with Window



Tuesday, Feb 25th @ 3pm – Revolutionary Poetry!

(Participants are encouraged to bring and read their favorite revolutionary poem)




Wednesday, April 2nd @ 2pm – Jhumpa Lahiri, Lowland


(Excerpt taken from Random House): “From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death. Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up.  But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan—charismatic and impulsive—finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind—including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife. Masterly suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland is a work of great beauty and complex emotion; an engrossing family saga and a story steeped in history that spans generations and geographies with seamless authenticity. It is Jhumpa Lahiri at the height of her considerable powers.”


Tuesday, Apr 29th @ 3pmMichael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation   ..

(Following excerpt taken from Michael Pollan’s website): “In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture. Both realms are transformed by cooking, and so, in the process, is the cook.

Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships: with plants and animals, the soil, farmers, our history and culture, and, of course, the people our cooking nourishes and delights. Cooking, above all, connects us.”