Your Chance to Save Civilization – A Call for Creative Responses
January 31, 2018

This year, Knoxville’s Big Read and UT’s Life of the Mind freshman reading program prompted hundreds of Knoxvillians to read and discuss Station Eleven, a novel by Emily St. John Mandel.

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

A science fiction novel that takes place during a fictional swine flu pandemic, the book won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Toronto Book Award. It was nominated for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The UT Libraries will commemorate the community-wide discussion series with a book that captures a range of responses, both scholarly and personal, to this award-winning novel.

Following are some prompts to spur your creativity. In fact, you can contribute to our book without even reading Station Eleven. Reflect on the questions we pose and respond from the perspective of your own discipline.

  • How would your discipline begin to study such a phenomenon (the collapse of civilization)?
  • Consider potential changes to your discipline’s practices if you were not just studying society but providing insight on how to rebuild our society’s institutions from the ground up. How would that make your area of study different?
  • How should the news of society’s collapse be communicated to the public?
  • How would people in your field be beneficial in rebuilding civilization after its collapse?
  • If society does collapse, do you resurrect current forms of government? Which one(s)?
  • If not a pandemic, what do you believe will be the downfall of society?
  • From your disciplinary perspective, analyze a society that did collapse.
  • How might civilization’s collapse have been averted if someone had only listened to you?

We invite contributions of any length and in any genre appropriate for publication, from essays to poetry to artworks. Thoughtful works of humor will not be disqualified and are encouraged.

Please submit essays of no more than 3,000 words or images with a brief description to by May 25, 2018.

This is the UT Libraries’ second book of responses to Knoxville’s Big Read. In 2017, the UT Libraries published Toward Justice, a collection of essays by readers of A Lesson Before Dying. This collection of thoughtful and heartfelt pieces was published by the Newfound Press, the UT Libraries’ digital imprint, and is freely available online.

We look forward to adding to this series and sharing your responses to Station Eleven with an increasing community of readers.