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Call for Papers: Publish your response to “A Lesson Before Dying”

University of Tennessee students, faculty, and staff and the community are invited to submit essays, artworks or poetry created in response to A Lesson Before Dying for a book to be published by Newfound Press, an online imprint of the University of Tennessee Libraries. Essays from all disciplinary perspectives are welcome. Submitted artworks should be in digital form (physical objects such as paintings or sculpture would need to be photographed).

Ernest J. Gaines’ award-winning novel, A Lesson Before Dying, is the focus of The Big Read, the community reading initiative co-hosted by the Knox County Public Library and UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre. Community partners are hosting ancillary programs to expand the conversation on the book’s themes of social justice, racial inequality, human dignity, and personal redemption.

A Lesson Before Dying is the story of two young men who teach each other the lessons they need in order to face their futures – one, a disheartened young teacher; the other, a man sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit.

Authors and artists may wish to gain inspiration by participating in some of the wonderful events that comprise this communitywide event. Local celebration of A Lesson Before Dying includes lectures, book discussions, film screenings, a concert of spiritual songs, and a forum with community leaders. From February 24 through March 13, UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre will offer performances of the Romulus Linney play based on the novel.

Several copies of Ernest Gaines’ novel are available for checkout at the Leisure Reading bookshelves, first floor, John C. Hodges Library.

Read more about A Lesson Before Dying and events open to the Knoxville and university communities at

The book of selected essays and artwork will be published in Fall 2016.

Please submit images with a brief description or abstracts/excerpts no longer than 500 words to

Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2016.


Robin Bedenbaugh, UT Libraries (865-974-0430,

Martha Rudolph, UT Libraries (865-974-4273,

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