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UTC Contributed Photo / Dr. Andrew McCarthy is a new presenter in the annual Take 5 Book Series. He will be featured Feb. 11.

If you think your family drama puts the "fun in dysfunction," take comfort in knowing you're far from alone.

Family dysfunction has been selected as the theme of the Take 5 Book Series, which kicks off Tuesday night, Jan. 21, in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's University Center. The five books chosen for discussion are all based on issues of family dynamics, a common thread that series organizer Dr. Aaron Shaheen calls "a time-tested theme as varied as the number of messed-up families that have existed or ever will exist."

For example, Shaheen points to the biblical story of Cain bludgeoning Abel or Helen of Sparta, who gets fed up with husband Menelaus and absconds with a Trojan prince, sparking a 10-year war, as recorded in the two great Homeric epics. Even America's appearance on the world stage in 1776 has been characterized as a child rebelling against its oppressive parent, Great Britain, he says.

"So when I decided to center this year's Take Five around family drama and dysfunction, I knew the theme would give my fellow participants and presenters a wide berth," says Shaheen, George Connor Professor of American Literature at UTC.

If you go

* What: Opening of Take 5 Book Series

* When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21

* Where: University of Tennesssee at Chattanooga University Center, Chattanooga Room, 642 E. Fifth St.

* Admission: Free; books sold at UTC Bookstore and online retailers

* For more information: Aaron-Sghaheen@utc.edu

Take 5 schedule
* Jan. 21: Dr. Carl Springer presents Sophocles’ “Antigone”

* Feb. 11: Dr. Andrew McCarthy presents Keith Gessen’s “A Terrible Country”

* March 3: Dr. Verbie Prevost presents Tara Westover’s “Educated”

* March 24: Dr. Clif Cleaveland presents Anne Tyler’s “A Spool of Blue Thread”

* April 7: Dr. Aaron Shaheen presents Jane Smiley’s “A Thousand Acres”

Dr. Carl Springer, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in the Humanities at UTC, kicks off the series with his insight on the famous struggle between Antigone and her uncle, Creon, in Sophocles' tragedy "Antigone."

The series continues on Feb. 11 with Dr. Andrew McCarthy discussing the intergenerational strife that reaches from America to Russia in Keith Gessen's "A Terrible Country." McCarthy is UC Foundation Associate Professor of English at UTC.

On March 3, Dr. Verbie Prevost details the strain of living in a survivalist family that has separated rather sharply from mainstream society as depicted in Tara Westover's memoir, "Educated."

Fourth in the lineup is Dr. Clif Cleaveland, whose March 24 presentation on Anne Tyler's "A Spool of Blue Thread" will offer medical and psychological insight into the many generations of the Whitshank family.

Shaheen wraps up the series on April 7 with Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres," It's a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear," set against Iowa cornfields and told from the perspective of one of the "evil" daughters.

Shaheen says all the sessions are free and open to the public and even include a light dinner.

It is not required to have read the books to attend the sessions. But those who wish may purchase the featured books at the UTC Bookstore or any online retailer.

For more information, call 423-425-5398.

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