In cities like Manhattan, Boston and Washington D.C., a nightlife trend is emerging that is a bit, well, unexpected. And pleasantly so. The Washington Post printed an article last April about these metropolitan areas' young professional singles opting for a night of intellect over one of booze and dance.
Instead of dinner and a movie, couples would head to the museum for a late-night lecture or an intellectual espousing of a controversial new book. Singles looking to meet other like-minded people are looking for events like these rather than the typical weekend pub fare, finding themselves in the throes of attraction to another's mind, rather than her looks.
I'd like to believe something like this would work in Tulsa, too. With two young professionals groups in town, and plenty of networking and socializing opportunities, could there be a market for this kind of singles or dating scene in Tulsa?
Laura Raphael of the Central Library, 4th and Boulder downtown, thinks so. She's heading up "Novel Talk: Smart Conversations for Serious Readers," a new lecture series debuting next Thursday in Central's Aaronson Auditorium and loosely based on the metropolitan trend of loving one's substance over one's style.
The concept for the series was crafted by Cindy Hulsey, and the idea is to attract young, hip readers to the library, to build and grow the library's audience and to re-introduce classic literature to casual and serious readers.
Now, don't let the "serious readers" part of that intimidate you. It's not that serious. The lecture aims to "connect fiction with real life" and connect you "with other intelligent adults" and "connect that hungry brain of yours to something worthy of its potential." Basically, Raphael said, the library wanted to offer young adults a new, edgy, exciting and stimulating experience. She hopes the event will be as fun as it is engaging.
Basically, if you're bored with the vapid conversation you encounter in the bars and want to talk about something more substantial, Novel Talk is what you're looking for. It seeks to provide an open forum where those who desire intellectual stimulation and who have something to say can meet both of their desires.
The first lecture, Thurs., Jan. 24 at 7pm is titled "Gender Wars: Made in the U.S.A.?" and will examine how men, women and families are affected by the "changing cultural mores, living patterns and expectations of society."
To examine these themes, a panel of experts--Dr. Katherine Adams, women's studies professor at the University of Tulsa, Dr. mark Malaby, masculinity studies scholar at Ball State University and Dr. Lanny Endicott, social worker and professor at Oral Roberts University--will lead a discussion referencing three novels that subject matter centers on these topics.
Each of the presenters offers a different viewpoint on gender wars, one from a women's, men's and children's perspective. The panel leaders will facilitate discussion and offer expert analysis, but much of the content will be up to attendees.
"We didn't want just a typical panel discussion," said Raphael. "We wanted the discussion to have lots of liveliness, and I think the speakers, the novels and the subject will all provide that."
The novels under review will be Rabbit is Rich by John Updike, The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Each of the novels, Raphael said, explores gender issues from different perspectives.
"John Updike chronicled how men have been caught in the last 30 years in a maelstrom of different identities. And the female equivalent of that is Anne Tyler," said Raphael. She also noted the controversy that surrounded Franzen's book a few years ago.
Also, each of the novels is American, so the discussion will include a look at what makes America different from other countries when it comes to gender matters.
You don't necessarily need to have read all of these novels to contribute to the discussion, but some familiarity with one or more of them will probably enable to contribute a little more than never having read them, and so I'm telling you about this a week in advance to offer you the opportunity to pick them up if you have the chance. Raphael said the library should have plenty of copies of each novel, so check your local branch at tulsalibrary.org.
The evening will also include opening music by Acoustic Ross at 6:30pm, door prizes and a free coupon for each guest for a drink from Barnes and Noble Booksellers at 41st and Yale.
I'm actually pretty excited at the prospect of this event. It's a little out of character for the library to engage its patrons in such a controversial issue, and the library, and the discussion's attendees, will be better for it. It took some great foresight to see what is happening across the nation and to apply it locally. And, I hope others will be as intrigued as I am and make it a point to attend.
Right now, the library is aimed at making "Novel Talk" a quarterly event, but the next discussion is tentatively scheduled for June. The series is also part of a bigger event called "School of Thought," which will provide numerous educational opportunities for adults throughout the year, not all of which will be related to books.
"Gender Wars: Made in the U.S.A.?" is free and open to the public, and parking at the library is free after 5pm.
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Another cool lecture series happening at the library now is "Let's Talk About It! Demons, Golems and Dybbuks: Monsters of the Jewish Imagination," and it began last Tuesday.
"Let's Talk About It!" has been in existence for a couple of years, and this new series is spearheaded by Grant Matthew Jenkins, director of the writing program at the University of Tulsa. The programs are free on Tuesdays at 7pm in the Lecture Room of the Central Library.
On Tuesday, participants discussed Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer. For the next discussion, scheduled for January 29, the book will be The Dybbuk by S. Ansky, a memoir of his youthful rebellion against religious authority, struggle for equality and commitment to the Jewish people.
After that, Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis will be discussed February 12, and February 26's book will be The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick. The series concludes March 11 with Tony Kushner's Angels in America.
For more information on these and other programs at the library, visit www.tulsalibrary.org.
Now, get to reading!
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