Great Books Dinner and Discussion Series

MSOE is proud to present a unique literary experience designed for every book lover. If you enjoy meeting new people, exchanging ideas, expanding your literary knowledge, and sampling gourmet cuisine, MSOE’s Great Books Dinner and Discussion Series is an adventure you must experience. Partake in a lively discussion, or simply sit back, observe and enjoy the haunting atmosphere of MSOE’s beautiful Alumni Partnership Center. Your reading experiences will spring to life as we gather once again! Whet your appetite in a delightful exchange of great books, great food and great conversation.

Click on the name of the event for more information and to register.

September Selection-For Whom the Bell Tolls,
by, Ernest Hemmingway

Discussion by Dr. David Howell
September 18, 2013

In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from “the good fight,” For Whom the Bell Tolls. The novel tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia. The novel is considered by many literary critics to be the first major novel of the Second World War.


Appetizer – Madrid Style Grilled Eggplant
First Course – Mediterranean Salad
Entrée – Segovia Chicken w/ Wine and Chorizo Peas and Roasted Potato
Dessert – Lagranja Xangos

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October Selection-Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,
by Ben Fountain

Discussion by Professor Emerita Judy Steininger
October 16, 2013

The Iraq War and the NFL collide when Billy Lynn and members of his Bravo Squad arrive at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas. For acts of heroism, these young warriors (Billy is 19) get a two-week tour of the U.S. to boost patriotism and support for the war. At the game, they meet a large cast of Americans including Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child. Who and what makes America run, what metaphors make Americans shiver and what kind of people are Americans anyway? Don’t hesitate to think about the victory tour of the young soldiers who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. Analogies in literature are always welcome.


Texas Thanksgiving Dinner:
Appetizer – Beer Battered Texas Tooth Picks
First Course – Squash Soup w/ Toasted Pepitas
Entrée-Stuffed Turkey Breast w/ cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce
Bacon brown sugar Brussels sprouts
Sweet Potato Casserole
Dessert – Pecan Pie with Whip Cream
Unsweetened Tea

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November Selection-The Hunger Games, (three-book series)
by Suzanne Collins

Discussion by Dr. Katie Wikoff
November 13, 2013

ln the ruins of what once was America lies the country of Panem. The decadent Capitol at its heart relies on the exploited 12 outlying districts for its frivolous, luxurious culture. As atonement for a long-ago rebellion, each district now sends one boy and one girl as “tribute” to appear in “The Hunger Games,” an annual fight-to-the-death televised event. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen knows how to survive. After her father died in a mining accident, Katniss kept her mother and sister from starving by hunting and foraging in the woods. But surviving the arena leads not to safety back home, as she had imagined, but instead to a higher level of risk. Katniss has unwittingly become a symbol of hope for the oppressed districts of Panem. Part love story, part adventure, part political philosophy, The Hunger Games is a page-turner that invites a second reading for deeper consideration of its plot, characters and themes.


Appetizer – Assorted Cheese, Dried Fruits and Nuts
First Course – Forage Salad served with Crescent Bread w/ Seeds
Entrée – Orange Chicken
White rice
Fresh Apple Mélange
Dessert-Goat Cheese and Pear Tart

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January Selection-Mary Coin,
by Marisa Silver

Discussion by Professor Emerita Judy Steininger
January 15, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand words, but is meaning translatable between media? Like millions of other people, Marisa Silver saw the Great Depression photograph Okie, of migrant worker Florence Owens Thompson taken by photo journalist Dorothea Lange. Silver couldn’t resist attempting a translation by writing a novel about one of the most iconic photographs in the world. She fictionalizes Thompson into Mary Coin, and Lange into Vera Dare. The writing is stark as a black and white photo. All of us impose meaning on what we see. Read what Silver imagines in the 1936 photo taken at the migrant camp in Nipomo, Calif., and think about what you would write about this photo.


Appetizer – Baked Chicken Liver, Mini Quiche
First Coarse – Tomato Soup
Entrée – Cast Iron Skillet Fried Chicken Breast
Snap Peas w/ Mushrooms and Garlic
Rosemary Buttered Fingerling Potato
Dessert – Apple Cobbler

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February Selection-The Awakening,
by Kate Chopin

Discussion by Dr. Dave Howell
February 12, 2014

The Awakening explores one woman’s desire to find and live fully within her true self. Her devotion to that purpose causes friction with her friends and family, and also conflicts with the dominant values of her time. Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the 19th century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women’s issues and is widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism.


Appetizer – Oysters Rockefeller
First Coarse – Orzo Salad
Entrée – Shrimp Creole
Red Beans and Rice
Fried Okra
Dessert – Banana Foster

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March Selection-Tom Jones,
by Henry Fielding

Discussion by Dr. Carma Stahnke
March 12, 2014

One of the first English novels ever published, and certainly one of the funniest and raciest books ever written, Henry Fielding satirizes human standards of morality and decency through a variety of characters and situations. The protagonist, a foundling raised by the generous Mr. Allworthy, is faced with many obstacles on his quest to win his beloved Sophia. Despite his wish to be an exemplary man, Tom often has no choice but to succumb to the seductions of others less honorable than he. This masterpiece is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.


Victorian Dinner:
Appetizer – Mini Canapés ala Bristol
First Course – Julienne Consommé
Entrée – Beef Wellington
Tied Green Beans and Carrots
Mushroom Red Potato
Dessert – Baked Alaska Napoléon

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April Selection-11-22-63,
by Stephen King-

Discussion by Dr. Jennifer Farrell
April 9, 2014


While grading essays by his GED students, Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: 50 years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away, but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination by stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom. Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful. In Stephen King’s “most ambitious and accomplished” (NPR) novel, time travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.


Appetizer – Fried Clams
First Course – Chef Salad served with Parker House Roll
Entrée – Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
Ranch Mashed Potato w/ Gravy
House Made Cream Corn
Dessert – Strawberry Shortcake

May Selection-How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia,
by Mohsin Hamid

Discussion by Professor Emerita Judy Steininger
May 14, 2014

Americans have gotten in the habit of looking over our shoulders at the competition from India and China. What are they doing that’s different from what we’re doing? Mohsin Hamid gives us a look into how a poorer-than-dirt village boy attempts the climb. The format is modeled after self-help books and chapters are given titles like “Move to the City,” “Avoid Idealists,” and “Don’t Fall in Love.” Both funny and shocking, you might find yourself wondering if striving to become Valedictorian is the way to succeed. Be prepared for an unusual narrative technique.


Appetizer – Samosa
First Course – Salad with Berries
Entrée – Chicken Masala with Basmati Rice
Steamed broccoli
Hot Flat Bread
Dessert – Orange and Carrot Cake

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June Selection-Ten Little Indians, (also published as And Then There Were None)
by Agatha Christie

This event is sold out.

Discussion by Dr. Katie Wikoff
June 4, 2013

Considered by many to be the best mystery novel ever written, Ten Little Indians is the tale of ten strangers lured by a mysterious host to Indian Island, a private getaway off the coast of England. Once there, their absent host accuses each person of murder in a recorded message. Aghast, the guests confess the circumstances of their darkest secrets to one another. As one by one they start to die in ways similar to those iterated in the title’s nursery rhyme, the horrified guests realize they’ve been targeted for execution. With no way on or off the island, the killer must be one of the other guests. But who? A classic “locked room” mystery that keeps you in suspense until the end!


Appetizer – Assorted Pate Spreads with Crackers
First Course – Mixed Cheese Plate
Entrée – Potted Meat
Whole New Potato
Dessert – Peaches Convent Style

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