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Humanities Book Group

A monthly reading and discussion group focusing on topics in history, culture, and the humanities. The group meets first Thursdays at 7pm and is led by guest scholars. Pick up a copy of each month's book from the front desk.

A View of 19th Century America banner

2024 Theme

A View of 19th Century America


Thursday, 4 Jan 2024, 7 p.m. – Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Scholar: Nathan Rives, PhD, WSU.

Uncle Tom's Cabin
By Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Editor Yellin, Jean Fagan
2008-08 - Oxford University Press, USA
9780199538034 CHECK CATALOG

A monumental work of American literature, Uncle Tom's Cabin charts the progress to freedom of fugitives who escape the chains of slavery, and of a martyr who transcends all earthly ties. This edition firmly locates the novel within the context of African-American writing, the issues of race, and the role of women. Its appendices include the most important contemporary African-American literary …More


Thursday, 1 Feb 2024, 7 p.m. – Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Scholar: James Almeida, PhD, WSU.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
By Jacobs, Harriet
2020-06 - G&D Media
9781722503024 CHECK CATALOG

This powerful and unflinching memoir by young mother and fugitive slave, Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813 -1897), remains among the few remaining slave narratives written by a woman. …More


Thursday, 7 Mar 2024, 7 p.m. – McTeague: A Story of San Francisco by Frank Norris. Scholar: Greg Lewis, PhD, WSU.

McTeague: A Story of San Francisco
By Norris, Frank
Editor Loving, Jerome
2009-09 - Oxford University Press, USA
9780199554898 CHECK CATALOG

Inspired by an actual crime that was sensationalized in the San Francisco papers, this novel tells the story of charlatan dentist McTeague and his wife Trina, and their spiralling descent into moral corruption. Norris is often considered to be the "American Zola," and this passionate tale of greed, degeneration, and death is one of the most purely naturalistic American novels of the nineteenth …More


Thursday, 4 Apr 2024, 7 p.m. – Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Scholar: Jay Hart, PhD, WSU.

By Thoreau, Henry David
Editor Shanley, J. Lyndon
Introduction by Updike, John
2016-03 - Princeton University Press
9780691169347 CHECK CATALOG

One of the most influential and compelling books in American literature, Walden is a vivid account of the years that Henry D. Thoreau spent alone in a secluded cabin at Walden Pond. This edition--introduced by noted American writer John Updike--celebrates the perennial importance of a classic work, originally published in 1854. Much of Walden's material is derived from Thoreau's journals …More

How the Other Half Lives


Thursday, 2 May 2024, 7 p.m. Looking Backward, 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy & How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. Scholar: Eric Swedin, PhD, WSU.

Looking Backward 2000-1887
By Bellamy, Edward
Editor Beaumont, Matthew
2009-09 - Oxford University Press, USA
9780199552573 CHECK CATALOG

Julian West, a feckless aristocrat living in Boston in 1887, plunges into a deep hypnotic sleep. When he wakes up in the year 2000, America has been turned into a rigorously centralized democratic society in which everything is controlled by a humane and efficient state. In little more than a hundred years, the horrors of nineteenth-century capitalism have been all but forgotten. Broad streets …More

How the Other Half Lives
By Riis, Jacob
1971-06 - Dover Publications
9780486220123 CHECK CATALOG

This famous journalistic record of the filth and degradation of New York's slums at the turn of the century is a classic in social thought and of early American photography. Over 100 photographs. …More


Thursday, 6 Jun 2024, 7 p.m. – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Scholar: Tracey Smith, PhD, WSU.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
By Twain, Mark
Foreword by Nafisi, Azar
Introduction by Rasmussen, R. Kent
2014-10 - Penguin Group
9780143107323 CHECK CATALOG

First published in 1884, Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is a masterpiece of world literature. Narrated by Huck himself in his artless vernacular, it tells of his voyage down the Mississippi with a runaway slave named Jim. As the two journey downstream on a raft, Huck's vivid descriptions capture the sights, smells, sounds, and rhythms of life on the great river. As they …More


Thursday, 18 Jul 2024, 7 p.m. – The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. Scholar: Branden Little, PhD, WSU.

The Last of the Mohicans
By Cooper, James Fenimore
- Benediction Classics
9781781396889 CHECK CATALOG

James Fenimore Cooper places the two beautiful Munro sisters in the midst of the the savagery of life on the frontier, dominated by feuding Indian tribes and the relentless European encroachment on the Native American lifestyle. Cooper's spine-tingling perennial best-seller is an essential part of American culture and has been enjoyed by generations of adults and children. (Suitable for …More


Thursday, 1 Aug 2024, 7 p.m. – The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Scholar: Stephen Francis, PhD, WSU.

The Scarlet Letter
By Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Author Weinstein, Cindy
Editor Harding, Brian
2009-02 - Oxford University Press, USA
9780199537808 CHECK CATALOG

"Thou and thine, Hester Prynne, belong to me." With these chilling words a husband claims his wife after a two-year absence. But the child she clutches is not his, and Hester wears a scarlet "A" upon her breast, the sign of adultery visible to all. Under an assumed name, her husband begins his vindictive search for her lover, determined to expose what Hester is equally determined to protect. …More

The Raven and Other Writings


Thursday, 3 Oct 2024, 7 p.m. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, and The Purloined Letter & The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Scholar: Kyle Bulthuis, PhD, USU.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
By Irving, Washington
1991-01 - Tor Classics
9780812504750 CHECK CATALOG

There are few readers who are unfamiliar with Washington's timeless story of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and the terrifying Headless Horseman. But The Legend of Sleepy Hollow offers more than a mere ghost story, providing readers with an excellent social commentary about how people lived outside the cities and circles of politics in the early 19th century. …More

The Raven and Other Writings

By Poe, Edgar Allan
Foreword by Avi
2003-09 - Aladdin Paperbacks
9780689863523 CHECK CATALOG

Poe's most famous tales and poems, including "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "The Raven," are collected in this edition that includes a reading group guide. …More


Thursday, 7 Nov 2024, 7 p.m. – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Scholar: Vikki Deakin, PhD, WSU.

By Melville, Herman
Editor Blum, Hester
2022-08 - Oxford University Press, USA
9780198853695 CHECK CATALOG

"It will be a strange sort of a book, tho', I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho' you may get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree;--& to cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy.... Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this."

Moby-Dick has a monumental reputation. Less well known are the novel's unexpectedly weird, …More


Thursday, 5 Dec 2024, 7 p.m. – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Scholar: Kathryn MacKay, PhD, WSU.

Little Women
By Alcott, Louisa May
Editor Showalter, Elaine
Introduction by Showalter, Elaine
1989-01 - Penguin Group
9780140390698 CHECK CATALOG

Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters--Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth-- and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War. …More

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This program has received funding from Utah Humanities. Utah Humanities enriches our cultural, intellectual, and civic life by providing opportunities for all Utahns to explore life's most engaging questions and the wonders of the human experience.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent the views of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Utah Humanities, or the Brigham City Public Library.

Upcoming Book Groups
Thu, Jul 18, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Rooms 1&2 (Combined)
Reading discussion on "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper. Discussion led by: Branden Little, PhD, WSU.

Thu, Aug 01, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Rooms 1&2 (Combined)
Reading discussion on "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Discussion led by: Stephen Francis, PhD, WSU.

Thu, Oct 03, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Rooms 1&2 (Combined)
Reading discussion on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, and "The Purloined Letter" & "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. Discussion led by: Kyle Bulthuis, PhD, USU.

Request a Zoom Link

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  • If you haven't received a link within 4 hours of the event, please call us at 435-723-5850.

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