By Marielle Echavez, Staff Writer—

Take Five 2020 is a five-week long event that consists of five panelists who present a book of their choice that centers around a specific theme. This year’s theme focuses on family dysfunction.

The event is essentially a community-wide book club that is hosted by the UTC English Department. On Jan. 21, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in the Humanities Dr. Carl Springer kicked off the first session of Take Five 2020. Springer discussed his take on family dysfunction present in Sophocles’s Antigone. 

Dr. Springer offered his insight into the famous struggle between Antigone and her uncle Creon. As he discussed the theme of family dysfunction, he left room for open discussion with the audience as well as questions, answers, and open experiences.

After each book presentation, the presenter joins the other four participants in a panel discussion of the book. 

The five panelists for this year alongside Dr. Carl Springer are Dr. Verbie Prevost, Dr. Andrew McCarthy, Dr. Clif Cleaveland and Dr. Aaron Shaheen.

George C. Connor Professor of American Literature in the English department Dr. Shaheen uses the programming money that comes with his professorship to plan and pay for the event, which also includes a light dinner.

“First and foremost, I hope attendees will get great enjoyment from reading a good book and getting insight from a professional scholar,” Dr. Shaheen said.

He also hoped that attendees, many of whom are English department alumni, will see that the department and university take its public charge seriously, he said. 

“Public tax money makes UTC possible, and Take Five is a way to give back to the community, to show that learning takes place in all corridors of campus and for all people who call Chattanooga home,” Shaheen said.

According to Shaheen, English departments across the country are seeing a decrease in enrollments, so Take Five is a way to keep reading alive among the general public. 

“Literature professors can’t cure cancer,” he said. “That’s the job of professors of medical research. But literature is one of the reasons that make cancer worth beating–to remind us of our souls.”

Each of these sessions is free and open to students and the public. Everyone can attend the event and enjoy the discussion, even if they have not read the novel. 

The next sessions for Take Five will be held on Febr. 11, with  UC Foundation Associate Professor of English Dr. Andrew McCarthy presenting Keith Gessen’s A Terrible Country. 

On March 3, Professor of English Emerita Dr. Verbie Prevost will present Tara Westover’s Educated. 

Then, on March 24,  Honors College Adjunct Instructor Dr. Clif Cleaveland will present Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.

The event will end on April 7 with Dr. Shaheen, who will lead a discussion of Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer-winning novel A Thousand Acres

Dr. Shaheen hopes that students keep in mind that once they graduate and miss reading literature in a communal setting like a classroom, they can come to Take Five and revive those experiences. 

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