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.

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September Selection-The Unbearable Lightness of Being,
by Milan Kundera

Discussion by David Howell, Ph.D.
September 17, 2014

A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover—these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence, we feel “the unbearable lightness of being” not only as the consequence of our pristine actions but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.


Appetizer-Assorted Sausage Plate w/ Czech potato Pancakes
First Course-Czech Vegetable Salad/Vinaigrette dressing
Entrée-Prague Braised Duck leg, Red cabbage, Dumplings
Dessert-Apple Strudel

October Selection-Orphan Train,
by Christina Baker Kline
Sold out

Discussion by Professor Emerita Judy Steininger
October 15, 2014

The characters in this novel are fiction, but your jaw will drop when you learn they are based on true stories of more than 200,000 immigrant children in the United States during 1854-1929 who traveled on a cross-country train and were given away to strangers by the Children’s Protective Society of New York. This novel follows a little Irish girl named Niamh throughout her life to present day, and her ultimate friendship with a young, lonely Penobscot Indian in Maine. Time is skillfully used and characters are fully realized.


Appetizer-Oyster on the ½ Shell
First Course-Cream of Asparagus Soup
Entrée-Roast Veal w/ Dressing, Fried Eggplant, Green onion mashed potato
Dessert-Rhubarb Pie

November Selection-Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass,
by Lewis Carroll
Sold out

Discussion by Jennifer Farrell, Ph.D.
November 12, 2014

Lewis Carroll’s two children’s tales (not fairy tales—he was quite adamant) comprise two of the most beloved and influential works of Western literature. Disney’s 1951 Alice in Wonderland movie is how most people are introduced to Alice, but that’s only part of the story. Come and learn about the original Alice, the logic puzzles, the mathematical twists, the neologisms, the history, the politics and most importantly what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, from one who is Alice-obsessed.


Appetizer-Tea Party Sandwiches
First Course-Flower Salad
Entrée-Leg of Mutton, Vegetable, Roasted potato, mint sauce
Dessert-Assorted cupcakes and Macaroons

January Selection-The Bartender’s Tale,
by Ivan Doig

Discussion by Professor Emerita Judy Steininger
January 14, 2015

Montana looms large in the American imagination. When it comes to writing about Big Sky, cowboys, Native Americans, purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain, no one does it better than Doig. In The Bartender’s Tale, meet widower Tom Harry who runs a local watering hole in northwest Montana’s Gros Ventre. He’s raising a son, Rusty, who witnesses a lot considering Pop’s business. Set in the 1960s, read about how the government’s efforts to preserve oral history affect this story. The title alludes to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and there’s a lot of Shakespeare thrown in for laughs.


Appetizer-Meatballs w/ Grape Jelly
First Course-Iceberg wedge salad
Entrée-Segovia Rainbow Trout, asparagus rollups, rice pilaf
Dessert-Tunnel of Fudge

February Selection-A Tale for the Time Being,
by Ruth Ozeki

Discussion by Dave Howell, Ph.D.
February 11, 2015

Ruth (the character) is a writer living in a remote corner of the Pacific coast of British Columbia who is currently thwarted by writer’s block. One day she finds a collection of materials contained in a lunchbox that has washed up on the beach. As if she has unleashed a magical mist, the items she finds inside, namely a journal and a collection of letters, envelop her in the details of someone else’s life. The life she has stumbled into is that of a Japanese teenager who, believing suicide is the only relief for her teenage angst, nevertheless is determined, before she commits that final act, to write down the story of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun. We go from one story line to the other, back and forth across the Pacific, but the reader never loses place or interest.


Appetizer-Assorted Sushi rolls
First Course-Marinated Vegetable salad w/ black sesame dressing
Entrée-Miso Salmon, sticky rice, daikon blend vegetable
Dessert-Green Tea Ice cream

March Selection-The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,
by Sloan Wilson
Sold out

Discussion by Katie Wikoff, Ph.D.
March 11, 2015

The classic 1955 bestseller by Sloan Wilson tells of a businessman’s struggle to find happiness in postwar America’s materialistic suburbs and workaholic corporate cultures. This is the story of Tom and Betsy Rath, a young couple with three children, a nice home, a steady income. They have every reason to be happy but for some reason they are not. Universally acclaimed when it was first published, the novel captures the mood of a generation. Today, it is more relevant than ever.


Appetizer-Broiled Stuffed Mushrooms
First Course-Clam Chowder
Entrée-Broiled Pork Chop, Baked acorn squash, Lyonnaise potato
Dessert-Maraschino Cherry Cake

April Selection-The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel,
by Jasper Fforde

Discussion by Dr. Jennifer Farrell
April 15, 2015

In Jasper Fforde’s Great Britain, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde’s ingenious fantasy—enhanced by a website that re-creates the world of the novel—unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix.


Appetizer-Smoked Salmon & English Chutney spread w/ crackers
First Course-English Garden Salad
Entrée-Cottage Pie, carrots, peas, mashed
Dessert-English Trifle

May Selection-Brave New World,
by Aldous Huxley

Sold out

Discussion by David Howell, Ph.D.
May 13, 2015

Aldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.


Appetizer-Corn fritters w/ Tamayo blue picante
First Course-Carrot ginger puree
Entrée-poached chicken w/ new world sauce, baby vegetables, New Potato
Dessert-Chocolate overload

June Selection-True Grit,
by Charles Portis

Discussion by Katie Wikoff, Ph.D.
June 3, 2015

An elderly spinster recounts her adventures in the Old West when she was a 14-year-old girl tracking down the man who murdered her father with a crusty U.S. Marshall and a Texas Ranger. This 1968 novel by Charles Portis was adapted for the 1969 film featuring actor John Wayne’s Oscar-winning performance as Rooster Cogburn and remade again by the Coen brothers in 2010.


Appetizer-Cowboy Caviar & Corn Chip Pie
First Course-Mattie Ross Critter Salad
Entrée-Texas Brisket, corn bread, baked beans, corn on cob
Dessert-Cogburn Cobbler

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