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‘Go Big Read’ panel of UW-Madison experts scheduled for Oct. 9

September 13, 2017 By Käri Knutson

In “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance tells the story of what it feels like to be born into a region and class that has experienced serious economic disruption. He shares his family’s story, starting with his grandparents’ move from Appalachia to Ohio following World War II in hopes of escaping poverty.

The book has people talking as it touches on a wide range of pressing contemporary issues, including opioid addiction, access to education, and the pursuit of the American dream.

That conversation will continue at the Go Big Read Keynote Event at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall. The event is free and no ticket is required.

A panel from the University of Wisconsin–Madison will share its expertise on themes addressed in the book. The panelists include political science Professor Kathy Cramer, author of “The Politics of Resentment,” who will talk about politics and cultural anger; social work Professor Katherine Magnuson, who will discuss poverty and stress in childhood; and family medicine Assistant Professor Aleksandra Zgierska, who will talk about addiction, chronic pain and opioids.

An audience question-and-answer session will follow the panel discussion, which will be moderated by English and American studies Professor Russ Castronovo, whose own research focuses on politics and critical citizenship.

The keynote event will also be livestreamed at

Last year’s Go Big Read selection, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by UW–Madison alumnus Matthew Desmond, won a Pulitzer Prize in April. Desmond received his doctorate from UW–Madison in 2010 and is an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University, and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the UW.

The Go Big Read program is an initiative of the Office of the Chancellor.