Tampa Bay Great Books Participants searched for…“The Soul of America”

One of the largest seasonal conferences in recent Tampa Area Great Books’ history gathered at Tampa Palms Country Club Thursday, September 20, 2018, for the Fall 2018 Conversation Conference.

Some 40 book aficionados from Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties examined the current work by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.”

Attendees were divided into groups headed by TBGBC Moderators:  Patrick DeMarco, Kevin Chittim, and Linda Feeney.  Between morning and afternoon sessions, guests enjoyed a catered buffet lunch.  The “Shared Inquiry” discussion brought out a number of fervently-held points of view, all expressed with civility and respect for well-supported differences of opinion.

Many thanks to the conference moderators and attendees who made this conference a success!

Here are highlights from the conference in photos.

  1. Judging by the quantity of handwritten notes, Post-its, and phrases highlighted in neon yellow, the attendees were diligent in identifying relevant textual references to support their analyses. Clockwise from top left, Linda Feeney (serving as a Great Books Conference Moderator for the first time), Ann Sofia, Louise Kienast, Cheryl Walker, Moira Burke, Desiree Buckley, Bruce Gobioff, and bottom right, moderator Kevin Chittim.
  2. Many attendees commented on the enthusiasm brought to the discussions by guests attending their first day-long Great Books Tampa Bay Great Books Conference. See this website for information on past and future conferences as well as the new subjects, new days, and new locations for this Fall’s Great Books seminars for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Check our website or the OLLI-USF catalogue for details for the new Thursday sessions as well as directions to the new venue.  Be prepared to join probing discussions like this one, featuring (Clockwise, starting at top): Kevin Chittim (Co-Moderator), Nick Graves, Barbara Brown, Alex Lerner, Robyn Cheung, Martin Goodstein, Sherrie Gill, Ann Sofia, Louise Kienast, and Bruce Gobioff.
  3. Attendees enjoyed the variety in approaches demonstrated by all three moderators during the conference. Chief Moderator Patrick DeMarco led the afternoon discussion for this group (clockwise, from top center):  Jodi Cohen, Sarah Meachen, Art Sarlin, Garson Herzfeld, Michael Sekol, Joel Fyvolent, Stanley Ashe, Nanci Goodstein, Arlene Zimney, Mary Ann Beck, Patrick DeMarco (Chief Moderator), Tom Walker, and Joan Zinober.
  4. The Conference concluded with a Plenary Session devoted to Jon Meacham’s five recommendations for getting America “on the side of the angels once again.”  Among those participating in the informal discussion were (from lower left): Barbara Brown, Linda Feeney, Louise Kienast, Sherri Gill, Ann Sofia, Kevin Chittim, Alex Lerner, Patrick De Marco (standing), Shirley Herring, and Joel Fyvolent.
  5. Tampa Bay Great Books Council Secretary and Chief Moderator Patrick DeMarco summarized the successful conference, and reminded attended Stanley Ashe, Jodi Cohen, and Sarah Meachen to rely on the TBGBC website, Facebook, and their personal e-mail for details on upcoming Great Books functions.