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Reading Groups

Each semester, The Prindle Institute offers reading groups to spark discussion about various topics related to ethics. Faculty, staff, students, and community members meet several times throughout the semester to discuss the themes and ideas presented in each book.

To join a reading group, please contact Christiane Wisehart.

For guidelines on creating your own reading group, click here.

Spring 2016 Reading Groups

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Discussion led by Claudia Mills

Meets at 7:00 PM on February 9, February 16, March 8, and March 15

This year DePauw is screening film adaptations of Little Women, hosting speakers on Little Women, and staging the opera of Little Women. So . . . this is our chance to read (or re-read) the actual book! We'll be using the Norton Critical Edition so that we can enrich our discussion by looking at some of the extensive scholarly literature generated in response to this touchstone text (though we'll also be talking about whether or not Jo should have have married Laurie....).

During the final meeting, we will have a Skype visit with Norton Critical Edition editor and leading Alcott scholar Anne K. Phillips.


Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Meets at 7:00 PM on April 12, April 19 and April 26.

Dan Chiasson writes that "'Citizen,' which has been short-listed for the National Book Award, suggests that a contemporary 'American lyric' is a weave of artfully juxtaposed intensities, a quarrel within form about form. Like Rankine’s last book, 'Don’t Let Me Be Lonely' (2004), which shares its subtitle, 'Citizen' is part documentary, part lyric procedural, submitting to its painstaking frame-by-frame analysis everything from J. M. W. Turner’s painting 'The Slave Ship' to Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt during the 2006 World Cup final. The extensive list of works that Rankine has drawn on, ranging from James Baldwin to Homi Bhabha to Robert Lowell, makes 'Citizen' (like Whitman’s 'Song of Myself,' a clear antecedent) one of those American art works that equip us to do without it. It teaches us to 'no longer take things at second and third hand,' as Whitman wrote, to 'listen to all sides and filter them from your self.'"



Fall 2015 Reading Groups

Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen

Discussion led by Christopher Hager

Meets at 6:30 PM on September 1, October 6, November 3, and December 1

"I can recall no book in recent memory that has given me so great a gift as Our Declaration." Junot Diaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her

"Our Declaration is a primer on all that we have been missing...[N]ot just an invaluable civics lesson but also a poignant personal memoir." Thane Rosenbaum, Washington Post 


The Life and Times of Michael K. by J.M. Coetzee

Discussion led by David Alvarez

Meets at 7:00 pm on September 9, September 16 and September 23.

"In South Africa, whose civil administration is collapsing under the pressure of years of civil strife, an obscure young gardener named Michael K decides to take his mother on a long march away from the guns towards a new life in the abandoned countryside. Everywhere he goes however, the war follows him. Tracked down and locked up as a collaborator with the rural guerrillas, he embarks on a fast that angers, baffles, and finally awes his captors. The story of Michael K is the story of a man caught up in a war beyond his understanding, but determined to live his life, however minimally, on his own terms. J.M. Coetzee has produced a masterpiece which has the astonishing power to make the wilderness boom."