In The Book Club we focus on important books and authors and that are fun to read too. The first edition will focus on the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Some books change the world, voice stories that were unheard of until that point or reflect a certain tendency in society in such a way that it almost feels prophetic. In the series The Book Club we talk about important books and authors, and look at the societal changes and challenges that they represent.
The series starts with a lecture by Tamara de Groot on the 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. In The Handmaid’s Tale we follow the handmaid ‘Offred’ who finds herself in the totalitarian theocratic Republic of Gilead, which replaced the US government, in a world plagued by the consequences of climate change and mass infertility. Women are stripped of their basic rights, and some are forced to bear children for the ruling class. The novel explores themes such as patriarchy, female allegiance, resistance and compliance, and what it means to be free.
Fuelled by popularity of the acclaimed television series based on the book that started airing in 2017, Atwood’s eerily prophetic novel obtained a new and young following who, by recent changes in the political climate, felt strengthened in their concerns that many topics covered in The Handmaid’s Tale felt a little bit too real. In demonstrations avocating women’s rights, protesters have started to don the iconic outfits of the handmaids – red capes and white bonnets – to address these concerns (also pointedly reflected in a protest sign stating ‘Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again’). How can a dystopian story from the 1980’s shed light on the more troublesome aspects of today’s society? Why has this book found a new audience in our present time? And what is the socio-political power of the dystopian genre – does it have the power to instigate change?
Tamara de Groot is lecturer in the Humanities department and coordinator of the Arts & Culture Programme at Erasmus University College and has a background in art history and cultural studies.
This event is open for all EUR, EMC and EUC students and employees. It is not necessary to have read to book in order to attend the event, though we would of course encourage you to do so.
‘If there is one book to read to get a grasp of what’s going on, let it be The Handmaid’s Tale!’
Additional small-scale “book club” gatherings
The Book Club is a series of lectures organised by Studium Generale that focus on an important book and author. Besides the public lectures we also facilitate small scale gatherings in which students can discuss the (process of) reading of the book together. More information on these gatherings will soon follow.
Upcoming Book Clubs:
– April 3rd: Haruki Murakami, title to be announced
– May 8th: NW by Zadie Smith