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Book Club

 The Jefferson Book Club, open to all interested University of Texas undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty, is a forum for informal discussions of the great books. Copies of the readings for each meeting will be made available about a week beforehand.

For more information, to offer additional suggestions, or to join the book club, please contact book club faculty advisor Erik Dempsey. New members are welcome to join at any time.

Fall 2023 Schedule

This semester, the book club meets at 6 PM in WAG 212 unless otherwise noted. The meetings will generally take place at 6 PM on Mondays.

Spring 2023 Schedule


  • Thursday, January 19: Aristophanes's Congresswomen

  • Thursday, January 26: Mark Twain, "The Diaries of Adam and Eve"

  • Thursday, February 9: MOVIE NIGHT: Much Ado About Nothing (NB: This meeting will take places in Batts 5.108, and we'll order pizza for the discussion afterwards)

  • Thursday, February 23: Niccolo Machiavelli, La Mandragola

  • Thursday, March 9: Franz Kafka, "Before the Law" (excerpt from The Trial)

  • Thursday, March 23: Jane Austen, Lady Susan

  • Monday, April 3 (day change!): Moliere, Le Misanthrope

  • Thursday, April 20: Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books


For further details on these events, please see Upcoming Events. PDFs of the readings are posted on the Events page about two weeks in advance of each book club meeting. 

For readings from past book clubs listed by date, click here and browse for the selection you would like.

You may also find our collection of archived readings online.

Past Events

1001 Nights, (Selections)
Al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of the Philosophers (excerpts)
Aristotle on Friendship
Aristotle, Physics
The Arthashastra: Law, Governance, and Society in Ancient India
Augustine, City of God (excerpt)
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Jane Austin, Sense and Sensibility
Francis Bacon, Great Instauration
Essays of Francis Bacon
Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron (excerpt)
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy (excerpt)
Albert Camus, "The Retreat of Helen"
Cervantes, Don Quixote
Essays of Winston Churchill
Living Ethically, selections from Confucius
Dante, Purgatorio (excerpt)
Dostoyevski, The Brothers Karamazov (The Grand Inquisitor and other selections)
Essays and Letters of Albert Einstein
Euclid, Elements (Selections)
Franklin's Autobiography, parts 1 and 2
Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Heraclitus, Fragments
Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy
Thomas Jefferson (Selections)
The Sermon on the Mount
Kafka, Before the Law
Søren Kierkegaard, Sickness Unto Death (excerpt)
Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Abraham Lincoln (Selections)
Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses (excerpt)
Herman Melville, "The Lightning-Rod Man"
John Milton, Paradise Lost (excerpts)
Essai (selections), Michel de Montaigne
What is happiness? (Selections from the Stoics and Montaigne)
Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy
Nietzsche, "The Problem of Socrates"
Plato, Phaedo (excerpt)
Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past (selections)
Ayn Rand, Anthem
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Letter to D'Alembert
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "The Levite of Ephraim"
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Preface to Narcisse"
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Reveries
William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, American Shakespeare Center performance followed by discussion
William Shakespeare, Coriolanus
William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
William Shakespeare, Tempest (following Actors from the London Stage performances)
Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, selections
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn The Gulag Archipelago (excerpts)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, A World Split Apart
John Steinbeck, East of Eden (excerpt)
Leo Strauss, "What is Liberal Education?"
Jonathan Swift, "Battle of the Books"
Ibn Tufayl, Hayy Ibn Yacqzan
Mark Twain, "The Diaries of Adam and Eve"
Voltaire, Candide
Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron
David Foster Wallace, Everything and More
Xenophon, Apology

Movie Night: All the King's Men
Movie Night: Blade Runner
Movie Night: Casablanca
Movie Night, Chariots of Fire
Movie Night: Crimes and Misdemeanors
Movie Night: Bernardo Bertolucci's Il Conformista
Movie Night: Metropolitan
Movie Night: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Movie Night: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Movie Night: Pleasantville
Movie Night: Spartacus
Movie Night: The Counterfeit Traitor
Movie Night: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Movie Night: The Seventh Seal
Movie Night: Tristan and Isolde
Movie Night: Barcelona


Fall 2022

The book club always meets at 5 PM in WAG 212. CTI will provide copies of The Epic of Gilgamesh and Billy Budd to students who participate in the groups. To request one, please email at least three weeks before the meeting on the book.

  • Monday, August 29: Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance" and "Heroism"
  • Monday, September 12: Plato, Laches, first half
  • Monday, September 26: Plato, Laches, second half 
  • Monday, October 10: The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Monday, October 24: Niccolo Machiavelli , The Life of Castruccio Castracani 
  • Monday, November 7: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Virtue Most Necessary for a Hero 
  • Monday, November 28: Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Chapters 1-15 
  • Monday, December 5: Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Chapters 16-30