Myth-Making in Popular Fiction

Let's Talk About It Book Discussion Series

Uncle Tom's Cabin The Great Gatsby Shane  Cold Mountain  Olive Kitteridge 

The Let’s Talk About It series Myth-Making in Popular Fiction will be held at the Iredell County Public Library beginning on January 13, 2014 at 6:00 PM. Let’s Talk About It is a book discussion series for adults sponsored by the North Carolina Humanities Council, the North Carolina Center for the Book, and the Iredell Friends of the Library. Participants read five books based on a common theme, and then meet every other week for five weeks to talk about the books. The discussions are led by scholars from North Carolina colleges and universities.

The Myth-Making in Popular Fiction series suggests that the mass appeal of “best-selling fiction” seems to come from the combination of mythic characters and realistic, historically identifiable settings. The works in this series are Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shane by Jack Schaefer, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout .

The Let’s Talk About It program will begin on January 13, 2014 and will meet at 6:00 pm every other Monday evening through March 10. The programs will be held at the Iredell County Public Library in Statesville. Call 704-878-3098 or e-mail to register. Pick up the books at the checkout desk.

Date & Time Book Scholar
January 3, 6 PM-8PM Uncle Tom's Cabin Bruce Dick
January 27, 6 PM-8PM The Great Gatsby Jill Channing
February 10, 6 PM-8PM Shane Sandy Govan
February 24, 6 PM-8PM Cold Mountain Charles McAllister
March 10, 6 PM-8PM Olive Kitteridge Roxanne Newton

Let's Talk About It: The Books

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin

An international bestseller that sold more than 300,000 copies when it first appeared in 1852,Uncle Tom's Cabin was dismissed by some as abolitionist propaganda; yet Tolstoy deemed it a great work of literature "flowing from love of God and man." Today, however, Harriet Beecher Stowe's stirring indictment of slavery is often confused with garish dramatizations that flourished for decades after the Civil War; productions that relied heavily on melodramatic simplifications of character totally alien to the original. Thus "Uncle Tom" has become a pejorative term for a subservient black, whereas Uncle Tom in the book is a man who, under the most inhumane of circumstances, never loses his human dignity. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is the most powerful and most enduring work of art ever written about American slavery," said Alfred Kazin.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, "The New York Times" remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth.

Shane by Jack Schaefer


A stranger rode out of the heart of the great glowing West, into the small Wyoming valley in the summer of 1889. It was Shane, who appeared on the horizon and became a friend and guardian to the Starrett family at a time when homesteaders and cattle rangers battled for territory and survival. Jack Schaefer’s classic novel illuminates the spirit of the West through the eyes of a young boy and a hero who changes the lives of everyone around him.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain

Based on local history and family stories passed down by the author's great-great- grandfather, Cold Mountain is the tale of a wounded soldier Inman, who walks away from the ravages of the war and back home to his prewar sweetheart, Ada. Inman's odyssey through the devastated landscape of the soon-to-be-defeated South interweaves with Ada's struggle to revive her father's farm, with the help of an intrepid young drifter named Ruby. As their long-separated lives begin to converge at the close of the war, Inman and Ada confront the vastly transformed world they've been delivered.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge

In a voice both powerful and compassionate, author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge. At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life- sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition-its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Let’s Talk About It: The Scholars

Bruce Dick

Bruce Dick received his PhD in American Literature in 1988 from Florida State University. A professor of English, he has taught courses in American Literature, African American Literature, World Literature, and Film at Appalachian State University since 1989. He has published four books and over 40 interviews with a variety of writers and artists. He is also a documentarian and has produced videos on American youth soccer and Brazilian martial arts.

Jill Channing

Jill Channing currently teaches English and Women’s Studies at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, NC. Before coming to Mitchell, she taught English at institutions of higher education in New Mexico and Ohio. She earned a BA in English with a minor in Spanish, and an MA in English with concentrations in 20th Century literature, Rhetoric, and Women’s Studies from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring North Carolina, riding her motorcycle, reading and writing about literature, playing various sports, and spending time with Morpheus, her cat.

Sandy Govan

Sandy Govan, Ph. D. is Professor Emerita at the English Department at UNC Charlotte. For over twenty-five years she enjoyed a distinguished teaching career at UNCC; also serving as Director of the McNair Post baccalaureate Achievement Program for nearly ten years. A scholar focusing on the Harlem Renaissance, African American Writers in Speculative Fiction, and American and African American Literature in general, Govan has also tried her hand at creative non-fiction and poetry. Govan is a founding member and historian of the Wintergreen Women Writers Collective. She has two essays in the Collective’s recently published Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers.

Charles McAllister

A Catawba faculty member since 1986, Dr. McAllister teaches courses on Ancient Western World, Emerging Western World, History of Britain, Ancient Eastern Civilizations, and Historiography, along with several special topics courses. Dr. McAllister holds a B.A. from King College, a M.A. from Virginia Tech, a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and has studied at Oxford University.

Roxanne Newton

The daughter and granddaughter of mill workers, Roxanne Newton grew up in a small NC textile town. Currently she is dean of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division at Mitchell Community College in Statesville where she teaches English and humanities courses. At Mitchell, Dr. Newton has developed interdisciplinary courses including "Working Lives: Multicultural Perspectives," “Race in America,” and "The Immigrant Experience." Her classes have created history quilts and have collected oral histories of immigrants and workers in Iredell County. The NC Museum of History acquired the North Carolina Women’s History Quilt, made by Dr. Newton and her women’s studies students. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Foundations and Cultural Studies and a graduate certificate in Women's and Gender Studies from UNC Greensboro. Her research interests include labor history, cultural studies, oral history, and narrative research. She is the author of Women Workers on Strike: Narratives of Southern Women Unionists.


This program is made possible in part by a funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Iredell Friends of the Library also support this project.

North Carolina Humanities CouncilIredell Freinds of the Library