The Great American Read is an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels. We are hosting a series of panel discussions based on the five themes in the series: What We Do For Love, Heroes, Other Worlds, Who Am I?, and Villains.
Meeting Room B.

  • Confederate Monuments
    August 30, 2017
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
    - Carolina Public Humanities connects UNC-Chapel Hill with our neighbors outside the University and promotes public engagement. Our programs draw on humanistic traditions to encourage conversations about contemporary events and past historical eras. The overall goal is to help create a more humane world by fostering civil dialogues and new insights that emerge from the humanities.

    Keeping this spirit in mind, Carolina Public Humanities and Chapel Hill Public Library are partnering to present, “Beyond the Headlines: Confederate Monuments, Historical Memory, & Free Speech.” This special event will feature a panel discussion with UNC faculty and community members. Following the panel presentations, the audience will be invited to ask questions and discuss these issues.

    • Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue
    • Danielle Christmas, Assistant Professor of English, UNC Chapel Hill
    • Jamie Fiocco, Manager and Owner, Flyleaf Books
    • William Sturkey, Assistant Professor of History, UNC Chapel Hill
    • Harry Watson, Atlanta Alumni Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture, UNC Chapel Hill
    • Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., Contributing Columnist, Raleigh News and Observer
    • Lloyd Kramer, Professor of History and Director, Carolina Public Humanities, UNC Chapel Hill

    Meeting Room B
  • Southern Fried Fiction
    December 7, 2017
    7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
    - To mark the 5th year of the Crook's Corner Book Prize, we are hosting a panel discussion about Southern food and its central role in Southern identity and fiction.
    • Bill Smith, James Beard award-winning chef and author
    • Bridgette A. Lacy, award-winning food and culture journalist
    • Nancie McDermott, food writer, cooking teacher and cookbook author
    • Keebe Fitch, owner of McIntyre’s Books
    • Tonya Council, granddaughter of Mama Dip & operator of Tonya’s Cookies

    • Meeting Room B.
  • Frederick Douglass
    February 22, 2018
    7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
  • What We Do For Love
    June 21, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

    OVERARCHING QUESTION: How do books about love help us navigate and understand the relationships we have in our own lives?

    Books about love challenge us to take a hard look at ourselves. Are we the heroine or villain, the white knight or callous rogue, the virtuous prince or seductive siren of our own love stories? And hidden in the undercurrents of our favorite romantic tales are reflections of our deepest fears and insecurities, and questions about our social structures and moral codes.

    Books dedicated to love range across genres, styles, and subjects, like the many different kinds of love in our lives. The books in this episode explore these loves—from the romantic and sexual, to our complicated friendships and family relationships, to love’s overpowering, dangerous, and destructive side.
  • Heroes
    July 12, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    - OVERARCHING QUESTION: Why are we drawn to these books with heroic characters, and how do they bring us comfort, hope and inspiration?

      On the panel:
    • Jack Davis, founder of The Superhero Project, a student organization devoted to helping young patients find strength through creativity
    • Cate Lineberry, Author, Be Free Or Die
    • Chris Blue, Chief of Police & Executive Director of Community Safety, Town of Chapel Hill
    • Kwame Mbalia, Author Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
    • Al Duncan, Assistant Professor, UNC Chapel Hill Department of Classics
    • Lloyd Kramer, Director of Carolina Public Humanities, will moderate
    Through our experts and advocates, we will explore how and why we are drawn to books featuring four archetypes of heroes: classic, everyday, tragic, and antihero. We also see how great heroic characters have lasting power because they offer us a template for models of courage, strength and fortitude.

  • Other Worlds
    August 23, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    - OVERARCHING QUESTION: Why are we so drawn to these novels about other worlds and how do they help us gain insight into our own world?

      On the panel:
    • Jennifer Ho, Associate Director, UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities
    • Scott Reintgen, author of Nyxia Unleashed
    • Jason Mott, Author, The Crossing and The Returned
    • Ashle Page, a NC Space Grant Research Scholar and mentor for NASA GIRLS AND BOYS
    • Susan Brown, Director of Chapel Hill Public Library and the Town of Chapel Hill's Executive Director of Community Arts & Culture, will moderate
    We love to read stories that take us into worlds unlike our own because they help us make sense of our own world, allowing us to explore ourselves, our desires, our concerns and above all, humanity, through a completely different lens.

    These books allow us to escape through a wardrobe door, by spacecraft or even by the power of the mind and explore the unknown. We read these stories because they take us outside our lives and yet make us confront what our roles and actions are in our own universe. They allow us to experiment and test ourselves in situations, without risk or fear of the outcome.

  • Who Do You Think You Are?
    September 13, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    - OVERARCHING QUESTION: How do our favorite books about self-discovery help us navigate our life’s journey?

    While bookstore shelves are overflowing with self-help titles, we consider that FICTION could be an even better best way to examine the universal stages of personal growth we all go through in life. While self-help books may give us great advice, in fiction we learn from vivid example and context, and have the opportunity to draw our own conclusions.

    In this hour, we examine some of your best-loved books that reflect our feelings as we attempt to find our way, to figure out how we relate to others and to develop our personal moral compass. These stories help us make sense of our own lives, as we observe the characters going through their own rites of passage—at every stage of life.

    Regardless of the age of the characters or how old we are when we first read these books, they all teach us important lessons about empathy and coping with change. And they give us new perspectives that we may not have had before.

  • Villains & Monsters
    November 8, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    - OVERARCHING QUESTION: What do our favorite books about villains, monsters, and evil forces tell us about ourselves and our darkest desires?

    We are drawn to stories of power, lust, revenge, and evil, with characters who haunt our sleep and torture our psyches. In fact, dear readers, you have chosen so many of these tales for your list of 100 best loved novels that it begs the question: what accounts for the attraction they exert? Where does this urge to enter the mind of a killer, or descend into another person’s madness, come from?

    Perhaps we choose stories featuring villains and monsters because they allow us to experience our fears safely, and put them down again when we need to get away. Whatever form they take, our fears have much to teach us, and from Shelley to Rowling the experience of reading these books is cathartic, and quite often, wicked fun.