Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Plan II, The Joynes Reading Room host reading, conversation with National Book Award winner

Atahan Koksoy
National Book Award-winning author Justin Torres and the UT Archibald A. Hill Regents Professor in American and English Literature Lisa L. Moore at the Harry Ransom Center Auditorium on Feb. 21, 2024.

Author Justin Torres and American and English literature professor, Lisa Moore, stepped onto the stage of the packed Harry Ransom Center Auditorium. The audience, composed of UT students, faculty and the general public, applauded as their discussion began. 

On Thursday night, Torres, whose new book “Blackouts” recently won the National Book Award for Fiction, spoke with Lisa Moore, the Archibald A. Hill Regents Professor in American and English Literature. Following the discussion came a reading of Torres’ acclaimed novel, accompanied by a series of moving, intense and meaningful black-and-white images.

Joynes Reading Room, a library and organization within the Plan II Honors Program included the discussion as a part of their 2023-2024 Speaker Series, where authors from across the country read and discuss their work with faculty and students. 

“It’s a pretty illustrious reading series,” said Zack Schlosberg, the senior program coordinator at the Joynes Reading Room. “A lot of authors who have come through here have gone on to win the National Book Award (and) the Pulitzer Prize.” 


According to Schlosberg, the process of organizing the speaker events often requires teamwork from the reading room and other organizations across campus including the Harry Ransom Center and the Department of French and Italian. This specific event was held over two days at the Harry Ransom Center’s auditorium and St. Edward’s University to accommodate an audience larger than could fit in the Joynes Reading Room.

“We knew it was going to be popular,” Schlosberg said. “We (also) added this Q&A element with Dr. Lisa Moore, which I think was a great way to start the event and contextualize the book.”

The discussion included a variety of topics, including Torres’s creative process, LGBTQ+ history and erasure and poetry. 

“The conversation was very genuine between the two of us in the sense that I really wanted to know about his artistic choices,” said Moore, the Chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UT. “That gave it a little bit of warmth and authenticity.”

Moore said the Speaker Series feels significant for many different reasons. 

“It’s important for students to meet working artists, whether to inspire them in their own art-making practice or whether to inspire them as readers,” Moore said. “But even in terms of career choices to see: ‘What does it take to become a National Book Award-winning author? What’s that person’s journey been like?’” 

Pearl Morosky, a Joynes Reading Room staffer and Plan II junior, said the event highlights an important function of university campuses. 

“Universities serve as important spaces where people can meet and have these intellectual conversations,” said Morosky. “It’s important to hold the space to have these conversations and it’s cool that we’re able to make these events open to the public.”

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