The By the Book author talk series brings big ideas and smart conversation directly to you. 

Join these book events via Zoom from the comfort of your favorite chair and engage with authors and experts 

on a variety of topics. Keep checking back for announcements of future events. 

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November 19 / 4:30 PM ET

Fernando Domínguez Rubio, author of Still Life, will be joined in conversation with Pepe Karmel, Shannon Mattern, and Jennifer Lena

 How do you keep the cracks in Starry Night from spreading? How do you prevent artworks made of hugs or candies from disappearing? How do you render a fading photograph eternal—or should you attempt it at all? These are some of the questions that conservators, curators, registrars, and exhibition designers dealing with contemporary art face on a daily basis. In Still Life, Fernando Domínguez Rubio delves into one of the most important museums of the world, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to explore the day-to-day dilemmas that museum workers face when the immortal artworks that we see in the exhibition room reveal themselves to be slowly unfolding disasters. 

Join us for a kaleidoscopic conversation between these scholars and thinkers as they consider, from many perspectives, the complex world churning behind the scenes of museums.


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November 24 / 4:00 PM ET

Max Besbris, author of Upsold, in conversation with Shamus Khan, Michèle Lamont, Harvey Molotch, and Rene Almeling

Stratification defines cities in the contemporary United States. In an era marked by increasing income segregation, one of the main sources of this inequality is housing prices. A crucial part of wealth inequality, housing prices are also directly linked to the uneven distribution of resources across neighborhoods and to racial and ethnic segregation. Upsold shows how the interactions between real estate agents and buyers make or break neighborhood reputations and construct neighborhoods by price.


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December 2 / 5:00 PM CT

Timothy Harrison, author of Coming To, in conversation with Joanna Picciotto, author of Labors of Innocence in Early Modern England

In Coming To, Harrison addresses the role of poetry in the invention of the concept of consciousness and the significance of human natality in the fields of literature, philosophy, and the history of science.

“This is original scholarship and thought, immensely and accurately learned, impressive in every way, and is likely to become a standard in the field of seventeenth-century studies, on a shelf with Martz, Lewalski, and Colie. I have read few books in a long time that are as technically accomplished and that strike me as not only interesting but also as important.”—Gordon Teskey, Harvard University


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December 16 / 6:00 PM CT

Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé, author of A Different Order of Difficulty: Literature After Wittgenstein, in conversation with Marjorie Perloff, author of Wittgenstein’s Ladder and Edge of Irony: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary. The event will be moderated by Johanna Winant. 

A Different Order of Difficulty reinterprets Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy for the study of modernist and contemporary literature and brings Wittgenstein into literary conversations around problems of difficulty, ethical instruction, and the yearning for transformation. This book will interest students of literary modernism, Wittgenstein, and the interconnections between fiction and ordinary language philosophy.


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January 12 / 6:00 PM CT

Patrick Jagoda, author of Experimental Games: Critique, Play, and Design in the Age of Gamification, will be joined in conversation with Alenda Y. Chang, author of Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games, and Ashlyn Sparrow, Assistant Director of the Weston Game Lab at the University of Chicago. 

In our increasingly networked world, digital games, board games, role playing games, escape rooms, and other types of games command an ever-expanding audience. At the same time, “gamification” has imposed unprecedented levels of competition, repetition, and quantification on daily life. In Experimental Games, Patrick Jagoda argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. He examines a broad variety of mainstream and independent games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out.



Previous events in the By the Book author talk series. 


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August 28 / 2:00 PM CT

Blake R. Silver, author of The Cost of Inclusion: How Student Conformity Leads to Inequality on College Campuses, in conversation with Laura T. Hamilton, author of Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women’s Success

Young people are told that college is a place where they will “find themselves” by engaging with diversity and making friendships that will last a lifetime. But what really happens when students arrive on campus and enter this new social world? The Cost of Inclusion delves into this rich moment to explore the ways students seek out a sense of belonging and the sacrifices they make to fit in.  

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September 4 / 6:00 PM CT

Join us for a virtual launch celebration for Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History by Jaipreet Virdi. This event is produced in collaboration with Women and Children First bookshop.

Through lyrical history and personal memoir, Hearing Happiness raises pivotal questions about deafness in American society and the endless quest for a cure.

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September 15 / 12:00 PM CT

Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind, coauthors of A Philosopher’s Economist: Hume and the Rise of Capitalism, in conversation with Don Garrett, author of Hume. The conversation will be moderated by Chad Zimmerman, Executive Editor for economics at the University of Chicago Press.

A Philosopher’s Economist offers the definitive account of Hume’s “worldly philosophy” and argues that economics was a central preoccupation of his life and work.  

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September 15 / 6:00 PM CT

Ellen Wayland-Smith, author of Angel in the Marketplace: Adwoman Jean Wade Rindlaub and the Selling of America, in conversation with Michelle Nickerson, author of Mothers of Conservatism: Women and the Postwar Right

Angel in the Marketplace, the compelling account of one of advertising’s most fervent believers, is the tale of a “Mad Woman” we haven’t been told.

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September 17 / 4:00 PM CT

Please join us for a Phoenix Poets conversation featuring Gail Mazur, author, most recently, of Land’s End: New and Selected Poems, and Rachel DeWoskin, author of Two Menus

Praise for Land’s End: “Mazur demonstrates a remarkable mastery of poetic technique as she depicts human relationships in all of their ambiguities.… It is this vulnerability, equipped and complemented with extensive erudition, that makes Mazur’s poems as poignant as they are accomplished in their craft.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Praise for Two Menus: “DeWoskin’s sophisticated, clever poetry, vacillating between soft and sonic, manages to break into the parts of the human story that so often seem inaccessible, or at least indescribable.”—NewCity Lit

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September 24 / 2:00 PM CT

Hanna Rose Shell, author of Shoddy: From Devil’s Dust to the Renaissance of Rags, will be joined in conversation with Emily Cockayne, author of Rummage: A History of the Things We Have Reused, Recycled and Refused to Let Go

Shoddy is that rare book that takes you from the direct experiences you share with the author (what to do with your used clothes? the feeling of ‘doing good’ when you donate them to clothe someone ‘less fortunate’) to the larger social, economic, historical, and, yes, moral universe in which those experiences live.”—Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

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October 1 / 4:00 PM CT

Matthew H. Rafalow, author of Digital Divisions: How Schools Create Inequality in the Tech Era, will be joined in conversation with Cassidy Puckett. 

Digital Divisions reveals the racialized and classed dimensions of the digital divide that can't be fixed by simply putting devices in the hands of all students.… Raalow highlights the way school cultures and teachers’ raced and classed expectations contribute to the reproduction of inequality and the digital divide.—”Stacey J. Lee, University of Wisconsin-Madison


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October 28 / 12:30 PM CT

David Herzberg, author of White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and the Hidden History of Addiction in America, will be joined in conversation with Nancy Campbell, Jeremy Greene, and Samuel K. Roberts

By showing how the twenty-first-century opioid crisis is only the most recent in a long history of similar crises of addiction to pharmaceuticals, White Market Drugs forces us to rethink our ideas about drug policy and addiction itself—ideas that have been failing us catastrophically for over a century.

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October 28 / 6:00 PM CT

Join us as we celebrate the launch of the first two volumes in the new Thinking Literature series. Books in this series are committed to the refinement of literary criticism as a mode of reasoning in and about the world. 

Andrea Gadberry, author of Cartesian Poetics: The Art of Thinking, and Dora Zhang, author of Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel will be joined in conversation by series editors Nan Z. Da and Anahid Nersessian. University of Chicago Press Editorial Director Alan Thomas will introduce the session.

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October 29 / 6:00 PM CT

Aaron Tugendhaft, author of The Idols of ISIS: From Assyria to the Internet in conversation with Bruce Lincoln, coauthor Old Thiess, a Livonian Werewolf: A Classic Case in Comparative Perspective

“[Tugendhaft’s] rich yet readable book puts ISIS’ smashing of ancient sculptures into historical and political context.… [it] is extremely relevant to America’s current debates about public sculpture, especially with regard to the role of violence in this debate.—”Erin L. Thompson, Los Angeles Review of Books Blog

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November 17 / 6:00 PM ET

Rachel Hope Cleves, author of Unspeakable: A Life beyond Sexual Morality, in conversation with Alexis Coe, author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George of Washington and Alice+Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis.

Unspeakable is the clear-eyed biography of Norman Douglas, a once beloved, now largely forgotten author—and an unrepentant and uncloseted pederast. Rachel Hope Cleves’s careful study of Douglas’s life opens a window onto the social history of intergenerational sex in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, revealing how charisma, celebrity, and contemporary standards protected Douglas from punishment—until they didn’t.