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Plan II Honors

Joynes Reading Room Literary Speaker Series

2019-2020 Speaker Series 

All talks take place in the Joynes Reading Room; all are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.  For more information, call 512-471-5787 or write

September 26th, 12 p.m.
Dwayne Betts and Natalie Diaz reception
Attendance for this reception will be limited. UT honors students may inquire by email to
In his memoir A Question of Freedom, Dwayne Betts recounts his experiences in prison (for a crime he committed at 16) and his efforts to rebuild his life post-incarceration. He later completed a law degree at Yale, served briefly as an intern public defender, and authored four books. Natalie Diaz’s much-anticipated second volume of poetry, Postcolonial Love Poem, will be released in March. Following their reception in the Joynes Room, Betts and Diaz will be giving a public reading of their work in the UT School of Law, where they are guests of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice.

October 15th, 7:30 p.m.
Novelist Brian Van Reet reading
Shortly after the September 11th attacks in 2001, Brian van Reet left the University of Virginia, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Iraq as a tank crewman. His experiences became the foundation for his book Spoils, which the Wall Street Journal called “the finest Iraq War novel yet written by any American.” Cosponsored by the UT Department of English.

November 6th, 7 p.m.
Poet Ada Limón reading
Ada Limón’s most recent book of poetry, The Carrying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2018. Her previous book Bright Dead Things, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Review, Pleiades and many other publications. She lives in Kentucky and holds an MFA in poetry from NYU.

November 12th, 5:30 p.m.
Journalist David Wallace-Wells reception
David Wallace-Wells has written extensively on climate issues for New York magazine, where he is a deputy editor. His book The Uninhabitable Earth reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. He will give a public talk at the Belo Center and then visit the Joynes Room for a reception and Q&A.

February 10th, 7 p.m.
Poet Evie Shockley reading
Evie Shockley’s poetry collection Semiautomatic was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. Her poetry addresses urgent themes, including gun violence and climate change. Shockley holds a PhD English literature from Duke University, and has published literary scholarship in addition to her creative work. She teaches at Rutgers University.

March 5th, 7 p.m.
Historian Sam Lebovic lecture
Sam Lebovic is a professor of history at George Mason University, with particular interests in 20th century American culture and politics. His book Free Speech and Unfree News, is a comprehensive history of press freedom in theory, law and practice. Lebovic’s lecture in the Joynes Room is presented in conjunction with the First Amendment Scholars Program at UT.

March 2020 (date and time TBD)
Writer and Translator Andre Naffis-Sahely
Andre Naffis-Sahely was born in Venice to an Italian mother and Iranian father, and raised in Abu Dhabi. His translations of more than 20 books include works by Balzac, Zola, Spina and others. His first collection of poetry, The Promised Land, was published in the U.S. by Penguin in 2018. Presented in conjunction with the Beyond Borders lecture series in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies.

Other Spring 2020 speakers, dates TBD - check back soon!
Journalist and photo critic Michael Lesy 
Novelist Guy Gunaratne, winner of the 2019 Dylan Thomas International Prize
Poet Tomás Morín, visiting professor of creative writing for UT’s Department of English

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    RLP 2.102
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