Who are we?
One Book, Many Conversations was developed by a community of organizations and individuals, all on a volunteer basis, who believe that at the core of democracy lies conversation. The ability to talk with one another about the issues before us and to come together and share our many perspectives is a vital aspect of a thriving democratic society. Discussions grounded in a shared text offer valuable opportunities for genuine, open exchanges – giving everyone in the conversation a common point of reference for examining and articulating their ideas.
We also believe that, at a time when the humanities, and the liberal arts more broadly, face many challenges, it is critically important to demonstrate the essential value of them in public life. A gathering like this offers the opportunity to connect those who already work in this arena, and to invite a greater portion of the public into the arena.
We have chosen Orwell's 1984 as the text for this inaugural event because of the spontaneous, organic wave of interest that current events have sparked in the novel. The book, like all texts and ideas that endure the test of time, is complex, and raises a broad and powerful range of questions. They include the nature of citizenship, the sources of power, and what it takes to be a leader, to be courageous, and to love another human being. These themes are broad, common to the human condition, and cross all partisan boundaries.
Who are the moderators?
We seek individuals who can serve as discussion leaders in a Socratic seminar, also sometimes referred to as a shared inquiry model. The moderator is not necessarily an expert in 1984 but is experienced in asking questions that are central to the text and that help the group to engage in a fruitful discussion.
How do I sign up?
To participate online, visit our online registration page and enter your information. We will be adding local seminar sessions as moderators continue to register. Please check back here or follow us on social media to find a local session in your area and register.
What format will these discussions take?
Your moderator will begin the discussion with a question about the text. The discussion will then be open to all participants. Moderators may steer the conversation from time to time, but participants will also influence the direction of the conversation.
What do I need to read in order to participate?
We invite you to read the entire novel, though it is not necessary to do so. During the seminar we will focus on the following sections (all page numbers refer to the Signet Classics edition of the book):
Part I, sections I-II
(Signet Classics edition pp: 1-29)
Part I, section VII
(Signet Classics edition pp: 69-81)
Part 3, sections II-III
(Signet Classics edition pp. 239-274)
Part 3, section VI
(Signet Classics edition pp. 287-298)
Do I need any experience with seminars to participate?
No. The only requirements are that you have read the discussion materials and participate in a respectful manner.
What if there is no local seminar near me?
If you cannot find a local seminar, you may sign up to participate in one of our online seminars. You will need a computer, tablet, or phone with a microphone and camera in order to participate.
Can I sign up for both local and online seminars?
We ask that you limit your participation to one seminar in order to make room for as many to participate in this event as possible.
How will I be able to join an online seminar?
Once you have registered, you will receive an invitation to join the seminar via the videoconferencing software platform Zoom.
What will happen to the information I give in my registration?
We will only use the information we collect in the registration forms for this event, and to give you further information about upcoming One Book, Many Conversations events. The information that is collected will not be used for commercial purposes or shared with third parties without your consent. You may opt out at any time.