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Archived Reading Groups

All but the last two years of book club groups at Texas Tech University Library

October 2016 Schedule

Book Discussion
Oct. 10, 7–9 p.m.
University Library Room 309 
Parking on TTU Campus

Book Discussion
Oct. 17, 79 p.m.
University Library Room 309 
Parking on TTU Campus

Book Discussion
Oct. 24, 79 p.m.
University Library Room 309
Parking on TTU Campus

Speaker Bios

Oct. 10
Dr. Paul N. Reinsch
Paul N Reinsch is a film historian whose work most often addresses film sound and argues for the intersection of history and theory in accounting for this neglected component of cinema.  He has worked as a film reviewer, movie theater popcorn peddler, American Movie Classics researcher and more recently has lectured on Tyler Perry, game shows, Dick Wolf, and R. Kelly.

Oct. 17
Dr. Adrian Popan
Adrian Popan earned a MA degree in Sociology at Texas Tech in 2009, and a PhD at University of Texas at Austin in 2015. The same year he joined the faculty in the SASW department, where he teaches a range of classes in Sociology. His current research interests are the personality cults of state leaders, and insincerity as social phenomenon. 

Join our series of book discussions on 1984



1984 Bibliography for Additional Reading

Other Novels by Orwell

1. Orwell, George. Burmese Days: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1934. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 B9.

2. Orwell, George. A Clergyman's Daughter. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1935ISBN: 9780156180658. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 C6 1960.

3. Orwell, George. Keep the Aspidistra Flying. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1936. ISBN: 0156468999. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 2011.

4. Orwell, George. Coming Up for Air.  New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1939. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 C7 1954.

5. Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1945. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 A5.

Nonfiction by Orwell

1. Orwell, George. Down and Out in Paris and London. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1933.

2. Orwell, George. The Road to Wigan PierNew York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937. University Library call number: HD8390.O71.

3. Orwell, George. Homage to CataloniaNew York: Harcourt, Brace, 1938. University Library call number: DP269.9 .O7.

Books about George Orwell

1. Bowker, Gordon. Inside George OrwellUniversity Library call number: PR6029.R8 Z5893 2003.

2. Gleason, Abbott, Jack Goldsmith, and Martha C. Nussbaum. On Nineteen Eighty-four: Orwell and Our FutureUniversity Library call number: PR6029.R8 N64326 2005‚ÄčAvailable online via Ebrary.

Other Relevant Books

1. Hynes, SamuelTwentieth Century Interpretations of 1984: A Collection of Critical Essays. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 N55.

2. Norris, Christopher. Inside the Myth: Orwell, Views from the LeftUniversity Library call number: PR6029.R8 Z7126 1984.

3. Steinhoff, William R. George Orwell and the Origins of 1984University Library call number: PR6029.R8 N67.

4. Woodcock, George. Orwell's Message: 1984 and the Present. University Library call number: PR6029.R8 Z89 1984.   

Films and Documentaries

1. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). Starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, and Cyril Cusack. Written and directed by Michael Radford.

2. George Orwell: A Concise Biography (2011) by Malcolm Hossick for the Films Media Group. Available online via Films on Demand.

3. George Orwell's 1984 (2007) by Anthony Burgess for the Films Media Group. Available online via Films on Demand.

4. Among the Ruins (1919-1939) (2011). Produced and directed by David Berry. Available online via Films on Demand.

Discussion Questions

1984 Book Reading

October 17, 2016

  1. The name “Winston” means “from a friendly country.” “Smith” is a common last name. From these names, can you suggest a possible irony? What else do we know about Winston concerning his age, abilities, and occupation?
  1. Who is Big Brother and what is the significance of his name?
  1. What is facecrime? Why is it so easy to commit?
  1. How does the Party control history? Why? Can you name places where you see this happen in present day?
  1. Who is Emmanuel Goldstein and how is he presented to the people of Oceania? What is the probable significance of using the obviously Jewish name?
  1. Winston says that “Your worst enemy…was your own nervous system.” Have you ever experienced a time when you felt this way? Have you ever felt helpless or not in control of your own life? Describe the situation and how you dealt with it.
  1. Discuss how language is important to freedom. Can we think of different time periods where you can see how language impacts freedom or lack thereof?
  1. In what ways are Julia and Winston alike? In what ways are they different?
  1. Why does the party permit couples to marry but discourage love?
  1. O’Brien asks Winston and Julia what they are willing to do for the Brotherhood. What are they willing to do? What is the one thing they are unwilling to do? What types of things does O’Brien tell them they might have to face as members of the Brotherhood?

George Orwell Biography

Born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903 in Bengal, India to an upper-middle class English family, whose father served in the Indian Civil Service. Soon after his birth he moved to England with his mother and older sister, where he attended English public schools and showed an early interest in writing. He attended Eton, but not college deciding to join the Imperial Police in Burma in 1922. He chronicled his experiences in Burma in several essays and Burmese Days (1934). After becoming ill he returned to England in 1927 and decided to take up writing full-time. He wrote of his early experiences as a struggling writer in Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) and at that time started using the pen name, George Orwell, in order to “avoid embarrassing his family.” During this time, the early 1930s, he supported himself with a series of odd jobs and teaching school. Again he chronicled his life with a novel The Road to Wigan Pier (1937). His last two novels reflect Orwell’s growing concern with social injustice, which he first saw in Burma. His activity in the Socialist movement lead him to go to Spain in 1936, to fight on the side of the Republican forces, but not before marrying Eileen O’Shaughnessy on June 9, 1936.

While fighting in the Spanish Civil War he was seriously wounded and sent home to England to recuperate. At the outbreak of war and since he was declared unfit for military service, he took on a series of jobs to help the war effort until he got War Work reporting for the BBC. In 1943, he decided to turn his attention once again to writing full time and quit his job with the BBC to devote himself to writing essays, reviews, and a new novel Animal Farm (1945), which became a commercial success. Later that year, 1943, while he was away, his wife died while undergoing surgery.  

With the success of Animal Farm, Orwell became a much sought after writer and consequently he turned his efforts to writing essays, reviews, and what would become his last published novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four was generally well-received, although some critics thought it overly gloomy and pessimistic. Despite its critics the book is still widely read and continues to have an impact on popular culture. A heavy smoker and not endowed with robust health, Orwell died on January 21, 1950, at the age of 46, from tuberculosis

Discussion Questions

1984 Book Reading

October 10, 2016

  1. Below are two quotes from the book. What do these quotes indicate about the book, 1984? If these two passages are from the first few pages, what do you think will be true for the rest of the book?

“On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.” page 1-2

“…there seemed to be no color in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere. The black-mustachio’d face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own.” page 2


  1. Below are is a quote from the book. What comes to mind of a party that has these three slogans? What would this party stand for? America is defined by independence, how do you think American’s will view these slogans? How do you think these slogans would be viewed by the rest of the world? Being an election year, what if one of the parties running was using these slogans?

“The Ministry of Truth—Minitrue, in Newspeak [Newspeak was the official language of Oceania. For an account of its structure and etymology see Appendix.]—was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 meters into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:





  1. The Afterword by Eric Fromm is below. 1984 was written in 1949 with the Afterword added in 1961. Do you think the time period of when each was written impacted the writing? Do you think 1984 was a bleak as Orwell thought it might be? Do you think today is bleaker than 1984 was?

“George Orwell's 1984 is the expression of mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it.

The mood of hopelessness about the future of man is in marked contrast to one of the most fundamental features of Western thought: the faith in human progress and in man's capacity to create a world of justice and peace.”