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Football fans will be able learn more about the history and possible future of spaceflight at this week’s UT Pregame Showcase.

Margaret_DeanMargaret Lazarus Dean, associate professor of English, will present “Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight” at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, prior to the UT vs. Western Carolina football game.

Now in its twenty-sixth year, the Pregame Showcase gives fans an opportunity to hear from some of UT’s exceptional faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences prior to each gridiron matchup. It is sponsored by the college with support from UT Athletics, the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, the UT Office of Alumni Affairs, and WUOT 91.9 FM.

Free and open to the public, each showcase will take place two hours before kickoff and feature a thirty-minute presentation followed by a fifteen-minute question-and-answer session. All sessions will be held in the auditorium of McClung Museum, 1327 Circle Park Drive. A brief reception will immediately follow each program. Door prizes will be awarded.

Dean is the author of Leaving Orbit, which explores what space flight means to ordinary Americans, what we’ve discovered in the past, and where space flight could progress in the future. Through meticulous documentation of the shuttle era, including being present at the last launches of each of the three space shuttle orbiters — Discovery, Endeavor, and Atlantis — Dean has chronicled our country’s achievements in space and explained the reasoning behind the lessening of travel to space in the future.

In addition to being an accomplished author, Dean is also the recipient of a Hopwood Award for her work in Leaving Orbit, a National Education Association fellowship, and a Tennessee Arts Commission fellowship.

The lineup for this season includes:

October 3—”Navigating Genre, Tweaking Type: Romance, John Cusack–Style.” Chris Holmlund, professor of modern foreign languages and literatures, will examine the traits and conventions that characterize performance in romance films using illustrations from the work of actor John Cusack.

October 10—”Venezuela in Crisis: The Deterioration and Polarization of Party Politics.” Jana Morgan, associate professor of political science, will explore the shift in Venezuela from a stable democracy to an unstable, conflict-ridden regime and look ahead to what might become of Venezuelan politics in the future.

November 7—”Recent Developments in Southeastern Archaeology.” David Anderson, professor of anthropology, will discuss discoveries in southeastern archaeology in recent years and tools such as remote sensing equipment that have revolutionized data collecting.

November 14—”Searching for Extraterrestrial Rocks in Antarctica.” Devon Burr, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, will discuss her recent participation in the research expedition on the East Antarctica Plateau searching for meteorites.

November 28—”The Brain Basis of Sleep Health.” Ralph Lydic, professor of psychology, will focus on sleep disorders and ongoing research related to sleep health.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,

Jeremy Hughes (865-974-0963,