Category Archives: Common Book

‘Black Hawk Down’ author to speak at Pellissippi State

male leaning against bar with arms foldedBestselling author Mark Bowden will be at Pellissippi State Community College Thursday, Sept. 18, for a lecture and book signing. He is the author of “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War” and “The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden,” as well as an essayist in Pellissippi State’s 2014 Common Book, “The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013.”

Bowden will visit classrooms during the day, then begin his public presentation at 7:30 p.m. in the Clayton Performing Arts Center of the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The book signing and a question-and-answer session follow the lecture.

Tickets for the presentation are $10 apiece. They will be available at www.pstcc.edu/tickets closer to the event. Because of limited seating, tickets will be limited to two per purchaser.

The Common Book unites all Pellissippi State freshmen in a shared reading experience. The reading becomes the basis of a yearlong discussion of issues related to the book. The Common Book encourages exploration in class and in co-curricular programming and events both on and off campus.

“The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013” will serve to inspire discussions on topics such as biology, nature, and the impact of scientific research on the world around us and in our own psyches.

Bowden’s essay, “The Measured Man,” recounts the work of Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist and pioneer of the Internet who advocates “digitally enabled genomic medicine” through in-depth study of his own body. Bowden relates Smarr’s self-diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, an incurable chronic inflammation disorder of the digestive system, and his intensive self-study of everything from his bodily excretions to his DNA. Smarr foresees a future in which health care is personalized and each person is in charge of his own treatments, but he faces criticism that such a future could lead to unnecessary medical intervention and anxiety.

Bowden’s presentation is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s English Department and the Pellissippi State Foundation. Funding is provided by the Foundation’s Clayton Performing Arts Center Endowment.

For more information about Bowden’s visit, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. For more information about the Pellissippi State Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call (865) 694-6528.

‘Sanctuary’ author’s talk speaks to Pellissippi State’s Common Book

Pellissippi State Community College hosts Greg Johnson, an author and News Sentinel columnist, for a reading from his meditation on the Smoky Mountains, “Sanctuary,” at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 16.

The free event takes place at the Strawberry Plains Campus, and the community is invited. The reading is sponsored by the Strawberry Plains Creative Writing Club. Students will read some of their own original, nature-themed works beginning at 11:30 a.m., before Johnson’s presentation.

Johnson, a native of East Tennessee, completed “Sanctuary” in anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which occurred in 2009. The book is a collection of written and photographic meditations on the mountains.

“Greg Johnson’s moving, intimate essays celebrate the mountains and their Maker,” said Patricia Ireland, an instructor of English at Pellissippi State, “inviting readers to walk into the wild, in keeping with the spirit of this year’s Common Book.”

The presentation is part of the yearlong schedule of events tied to Pellissippi State’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson. The book has inspired discussions on topics as wide-ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.

In his first-person narrative, Bryson recounts his tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail. He reflects on the many emotions, logistical problems and incidents to be expected for a hiker on the AT. The account also touches on the history of the Appalachian Trail and National Park Service, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.

The Strawberry Plains Campus is located at 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Author, naturalist to speak on Common Book topic at Pellissippi State

Pellissippi State Community College hosts author and naturalist Doris Gove for a lecture beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 3.

Gove shares her personal experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the talk, which takes place in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The lecture is free and the community is invited.

“The second edition of her book ‘Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Hikes in the Southern Appalachians’ came out in 2013,” said Carol Luther, professor of English, “so Doris is familiar with current conditions on the trail and can update us on some of the problems and circumstances that Bill Bryson reported on in 1996.”

Gove’s presentation is part of the yearlong schedule of events tied to Pellissippi State’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson. The book, Bryson’s personal account of hiking the Appalachian Trail, has inspired discussions on topics as wide-ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism on the AT, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.

“We look forward to hearing Doris’ expert perspective on the trail, which will be a contrast to novice hiker Bryson’s experiences,” said Luther.

Gove is also the author of the “Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges: Southeast.” She is co-author of several children’s books, including “My Mother Talks to Trees,” “Red-Spotted Newt” and “A Water Snake’s Year.”

In his first-person narrative, Bryson reflects on the many emotions, logistical problems and incidents to be expected for a hiker on the AT. His account also reflects on the history of the Appalachian Trail and National Park Service, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.

For more information about the lecture or Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State hosts author/naturalist Joel Zachry for bear lecture

female and male hiking with sign
Author and naturalist Joel Zachry and his wife, Kathy, are pictured at the Appalachian Trail terminus, Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Bear encounters are the topic of the day for “You and Me Coexisting With Bears,” a lecture at Pellissippi State Community College featuring Joel Zachry, a hiker, author and naturalist.

Zachry, who wrote “Bears We’ve Met: Short Stories of Close Encounters” with his wife, Kathy, delivers the lecture beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17. The presentation—one activity in a yearlong schedule of events tied to Pellissippi State’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson—takes place in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. The community is invited to the free event.

“In my presentation,” said Zachry, “I’ll speak a bit about ‘A Walk in the Woods’ and compare my experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail to what the book says—from the mistakes they made, and that we made, to the people they met along the way.

“If you hike the Appalachian Trail, you get the best education you could get. It’s an activity of enrichment: you learn so much about yourself and about America.”

black bear
Appalachian Bear Rescue, of which speaker Joe Zachry is a board member, rehabilitates injured and orphaned black bears so they can be returned to the wild.

Zachry, who is on the board of directors for Appalachian Bear Rescue, also will speak about ABR and his own experiences meeting bears on hiking trails.

As this year’s Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods” will serve to inspire discussions on topics as wide ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.

In his first-person narrative, Bryson recounts his tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail and reflects on the many emotions, logistical problems, and incidents hikers might expect. The account also reflects on the history of the AT and National Park Service, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.

Zachry formerly taught biology at Pellissippi State. He is an avid hiker and naturalist and has been program director of the University of Tennessee and Park Service’s Smoky Mountain Field School since 2011. The Zachrys also own Great Outdoors! Adventure Travel. Joel Zachry has section-hiked the entirety of the AT, completing the trail in 2005.

Appalachian Bear Rescue is a black bear rehabilitation facility. It seeks to return orphaned, injured and medically needy black bears back to the wild. For more information, visit www.appalachianbearrescue.org.

For more information about Common Book programs, contact Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State announces Common Book Convocation

A-Walk-in-the-Woods1Take a hike.

That’s the message of Pellissippi State Community College’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson. It’s also the theme of this year’s Common Book Convocation, which takes place Sept. 23.

The Convocation presentation, “More Than Just a Walk in the Woods,” features speakers from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Leanna Joyner, Tip Ray, Ben Royer and Morgan Sommerville. The ATS is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and maintaining the Appalachian Trail.

The event is 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Clayton Performing Arts Center on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. Convocation will be Web-streamed to site campuses, and the event is free and open to the community.

The Common Book Convocation is the jumping off point for a year of discussion and events tied to “A Walk in the Woods.” Pellissippi State’s Common Book is required reading for select courses. This year’s topics will be as wide-ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.

Bryson recounts his tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail. After years of living abroad, he hoped through the experience to reacquaint himself with America’s scenery, history and people. “A Walk in the Woods,” which is written in a satirical tone, encompasses the many emotions, logistical problems and incidents to be expected for a hiker on the journey.

The account also reflects on the history of the Appalachian Trail, National Park Service management, the history of the national parks and forests, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.

“Like Mr. Bryson, all of our students are on a journey of self-discovery,” said Carol Luther, an English professor and chair of the Common Book Committee. “As they go to college and become more educated persons, that experience will shape them and change them.

“We want each Common Book to be useful and inspiring to our students, no matter their area of study. ‘A Walk in the Woods’ is about friendship, nature and overcoming challenges along the trail. We hope that students, many of whom are technologically adept and comfortable online, will be inspired to get outdoors and recognize the value of our greenways, parks, and wilderness areas.”

“A Walk in the Woods,” first published in 1998, was a New York Times bestseller. Bryson was bestowed an honorary doctorate from King’s College London in 2012, at which time it was noted he was the United Kingdom’s highest-selling author of nonfiction. His other books include “Mother Tongue,” “Notes from a Small Island” and “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”

For more information about Common Book programs, contact Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Barbara Yarn, black female medical trailblazer, to speak at Pellissippi State

She was one of the first African-American female graduates of Nashville’s Meharry Medical College. She was also one of the first women to serve as chief of staff at an American hospital.

Dr. Barbara Yarn, a native of Knoxville, comes to Pellissippi State Community College on April 11 to share her journey and speak about challenges in the medical field. The presentation is “A Trailblazer in Medicine: The Career of Dr. Barbara Yarn.” Members of the community are invited to the free event.

Part of the 2012-13 Common Book experience at Pellissippi State, the visit is tied to “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a New York Times bestseller by Rebecca Skloot. The nonfiction book is based on Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer whose cancerous cervical cells were taken in 1951 without her knowledge and who unwittingly played a role in biological research that continues today.

The book is being used as a discussion springboard for issues such as the birth of bioethics, the history of medical research involving African-Americans and the legal battles over informed consent. Pellissippi State’s Common Book is required reading for incoming freshmen and is the centerpiece for activities throughout the year.

The event is 12:30-2 p.m. at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in the Goins Building Auditorium. For additional information, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu. Requests should be made at least two weeks in advance.

Acclaimed novelist David Madden returns to Pellissippi State tomorrow

Author and Knoxville native David Madden returns to Pellissippi State Community College to read from his latest novel, “London Bridge in Plague and Fire,” on Feb. 28. Madden’s reading is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. in the Goins Auditorium at the Hardin Valley Campus.

In the novel, Old London Bridge is as much a living, breathing character as its architect, the priest Peter de Colechurch, who began work on the structure in 1176. With more than 200 houses and shops built directly on it, the bridge was a wonder of the world until it was dismantled in 1832.

“London Bridge in Plague and Fire” tells the story of the bridge and two of the calamities that afflicted its residents. The bridge serves as the story’s backdrop and as a dominating force in the lives of the principal characters.

Madden’s tale is lyrical, complex and often shocking, according to the publisher, the University of Tennessee Press. The novel is also considered his most ambitious and imaginative work.

“It’s a frame story: a story within a story,” said Ed Francisco, a Pellissippi State English professor and writer-in-residence. “[Madden] is prolific, he is protean in his imagination; his imagination goes where ever it wishes and the results are always fascinating.”

Madden read from “London Bridge in Plague and Fire” two weeks ago at the Bijou in Knoxville. Now a resident of Black Mountain, N.C., he returns to Knoxville regularly to share his work. The city also continues to influence his work. In the case of his most recent novel, the Gay Street Bridge served as inspiration.

“The look of Knoxville—its seven hills, like Rome—during the Civil War, there were batteries on all those hills,” Madden said in an interview with “The Read on WNC.”

“By the way, about the origin of ‘London Bridge’— it was Gay Street Bridge in Knoxville. I used to go down there in a trembling sense of excitement [as a youth], and walk across it, skipping over the broken parts, which is right there in ‘London Bridge in Plague and Fire.’”

Pellissippi State hosted Madden when he read from the novel prior to its publication a few years ago.”

His book “Sharpshooter,” a Civil War-era novel set at the Bleak House on Kingston Pike, was adopted as Pellissippi State’s Common Book for the 2007-2008 Common Academic Experience. At that time, Madden made several visits to the college, giving readings and talking with young writers. He also gave the first and only dramatic reading from “Abducted by Circumstance,” when it was still a work-in-progress.

Madden’s best-known novel, “The Suicide’s Wife,” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and made into a CBS movie, but he is most known in the Knoxville area for “Bijou” and “Sharpshooter,” also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

For more information about this event, contact Francisco at (865) 694-6744.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Black History Month: Pellissippi State faculty member discusses HeLa cells’ research contributions

Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer whose cancerous cervical cells were taken in 1951 without her knowledge, unwittingly played a role in biological research that continues today.

On Wednesday, March 6, at 2 p.m., Minoo Askari, a faculty member in Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Pellissippi State Community College, discusses Lacks’ contributions to scientific research in the presentation “HeLa Cells—Contributions to Modern Science.”

Part of the college’s 2012-13 Common Book experience, the discussion is based on the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a New York Times bestseller by Rebecca Skloot. The author spent more than a decade researching and writing about Lacks and her family.

Pellissippi State’s Common Book is required reading for select courses and is the centerpiece for activities throughout the year. It is being used as a discussion springboard for such issues as the birth of bioethics, the history of medical research involving African-Americans and the legal battles over informed consent.

The cells taken from Lacks in 1951 were discovered to be “immortal”: they can grow indefinitely and be frozen for decades, divided into different batches, and shared among scientists.

Henrietta Lacks’ cells were coined “HeLa” cells by Dr. George Gey, a researcher and physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Her cells became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for development of the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and other applications.

Askari offers an overview of the history of how cells from one tumor have become a foundation for the groundbreaking biological research that continues even now. The discussion includes a look at how HeLa cells have been used in research into HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, and the effects of radiation and toxic chemicals. The event is free and open to the public.

The discussion is 2-3 p.m. at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in the Goins Building Auditorium. For additional information, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State: Son of Henrietta Lacks, subject of NYT bestseller, to speak at Convocation

On Oct. 4, David “Sonny” Lacks will share what it meant to find out—decades after the fact—that the cells of his mother, Henrietta, were being used in labs around the world, bought and sold by the billions.

Sonny Lacks is the keynote speaker for the Convocation for the Common Book at Pellissippi State Community College. He speaks at 10:50-11:50 a.m. in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus.

The story of the Lacks family was recorded by Rebecca Skloot in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the 2012-13 Common Book at Pellissippi State. The Common Book is required reading for incoming freshman and is the centerpiece for activities throughout the year.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” took more than a decade to research and write and instantly became a New York Times bestseller.

“We are delighted to have Sonny Lacks on campus,” said Anthony Wise, Pellissippi State president.” He puts a personal face on some big issues that will be discussed on campus this year.”

Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, were discovered to be “immortal”: they can grow indefinitely and be frozen for decades, divided into different batches, and shared among scientists. Henrietta Lacks’ cells were coined “HeLa” by Dr. George Gey, a researcher and physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Her cells became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for development of the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization—yet for many years her family couldn’t afford health insurance.

The book will be used as a discussion springboard for such issues as the birth of bioethics, the history of medical research involving African-Americans and the legal battles over informed consent, says Carol Luther. Luther is a Pellissippi State English professor and the coordinator of Common Book activities.

Convocation for the Common Book is free, and visitors may park in any lot designated “Open.” To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

For information about Common Book activities, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Public invited to Pellissippi State’s ‘Children’s Literature in Africa’

Parents who want to give their small children a boost in reading will not want to miss Catherine T. Shafer’s lecture, “Children’s Literature by African Authors and Illustrators,” at Pellissippi State Community College.

Shafer speaks Monday, March 19, 10:45-11:45, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Shafer is a passionate advocate for early childhood literacy. An adjunct faculty member in the college’s Early Childhood Education, she says that reading to young children is of utmost importance. She also believes that when parents choose literature from other cultures, their children can become more accepting of their global peers.

The free event is part of this academic year’s Common Book activities, which revolve around “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope” by William Kamkwamba. Kamkwamba was a 14-year-old in Malawi, Africa, when he built a windmill out of spare parts in order to get electricity into his parents’ home.

For more information about this event, contact Pellissippi State’s English Department at (865) 694-6708 or call (865) 694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.