This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Literary Colloquy held by the Center for International Education.
The colloquy, a series of 30-member discussions held each semester, attempts to immerse UT students, faculty and staff in various cultures from around the globe through the power of literature. This semester’s colloquy will focus on books from the country of Morocco.
Each participant will be provided, free of charge, three separate books, and expected to participate in all three discussions held at the International House. Various experts on Morocco and other related topics will lead each discussion.
This semester’s books include “A Street in Marrakech” by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, “Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Toward Independence” by Leila Abouzeid and “The Sand Child” by Tahar Ben Jelloun.
James Gehlhar, a member of the colloquy during its creation in 1996, explained the program was born from a similar colloquy run by the College of Arts and Sciences which focused on domestic literature.
“We knew there were a lot of people who want to read books about different cultures—but by authors within those cultures,” Gehlhar said.
The idea truly manifested as the Center for International Education went on to create a colloquy that would help broaden the horizons of not only students, but also faculty and staff as well.
“From the very outset, we tried to get a large cross-section of students, faculty and staff involved, and we feel we have been able to bring these different opinions together well,” Gehlhar said.
A committee of faculty and staff meets to decide upon each semester’s chosen culture and the books which will be discussed, Lee Rhea, coordinator of international programming at the I-House said.
The “readability” of books is a major factor in their selection.
“We’re not going to make anyone read thousand-page books,” Rhea said.
Each semester, the colloquy works to find discussants whose expertise will allow them to give the participants a more informed and “unique perspective” on the chosen literature and culture.
One of this year’s discussants, Karen Levy, will be leading a session on the novel “Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Toward Independence.”
Levy, a professor in modern foreign languages and literature focusing on French and French contemporary literature, sees the colloquy as “a way to raise questions and encouraging discussion of difficult topics.”
The 2007 colloquy will be Levy’s third experience with the program, and she looks forward to fostering discussion through the book on which she will be speaking.
“What I would like to do is raise some discussion of the roles of women in political situations around the globe,” Levy said.
The speakers for the remaining two discussions are Robert Cunningham, professor of political science, and Palmira Brummett, professor of history.
The discussions will be held on three Thursdays during the course of the semester from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
If interested in the colloquy, send an e-mail by this Friday to Lee Rhea at and indicate whether you are a student, faculty or staff.