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After dying in relative obscurity, Herman Melville became recognized in the twentieth century as an icon of American literature and the author of thought-provoking stories that address humanity’s pressing philosophical, ethical, religious and social questions.

UT will celebrate his life and work with a public lecture, film screening, panel discussion, and readings at the Melville Festival Thursday and Friday, April 7 and 8.

All events are free and open to the public.

“Melville is a writer of tremendous depth and energy, one who challenged all the social and political beliefs of his day and who was always inviting his readers to look beyond the surface meaning of events,” said Dawn Coleman, associate professor of English. “We’re hoping the festival will spark renewed public appreciation for his fiction and highlight the continuing value to be found in reading complex stories about the American experience.”

Coleman organized the festival with Martin Griffin, associate professor of English.

The festival kicks off Thursday, April 7, with a lecture by Hofstra University Professor John Bryant that explores how the use of a new digital humanities tool can improve the multiple interpretations of Melville’s works. The talk will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of John C. Hodges Library. A 7:00 p.m. film screening of Moby Dick will follow in the Hodges Library Auditorium.

On Friday, April 8, a panel discussion titled “Melville Today,” featuring faculty from multiple disciplines, will be held at 10:15 a.m. in Panhellenic Building Room 106. At noon, “Occupy Bartleby!” a UT community reading of Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street will follow. At 7:00 p.m., a staged reading of an abridged version of Moby-Dick will be held at Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central St.

Melville, born in 1819, was one of most imaginative American storytellers. His works include Typee, a tale of his experiences in Polynesian life, his whaling novel Moby-Dick, and his posthumously published novella of wartime justice, Billy Budd. He died in 1891.

The event is part of a series of festivals called AuthorFest, which highlights the works of some of the world’s most influential writers. Past festivals have featured Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Visit the Melville Festival website for a complete schedule of events and other information.



Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,

Dawn Coleman (865-974-6934,

Martin Griffin (865-974-7166,