The Deep Read

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Welcome to The Deep Read, a new program by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz that invites curious minds to think deeply about literature, art, and the most pressing issues of our day. We’ll read books from a wide range of genres, exploring their implications on our politics, inner lives, and communities.

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Margaret Atwood Live

Margaret Atwood will join the UC Santa Cruz community for a free, live, virtual event on Tuesday September 22. Part of The Humanities Institute’s Deep Read Program, this event culminates months of in-depth programming and community engagement focused on Atwood’s latest Booker Prize-winning novel, The Testaments, a sequel to her 1985 classic The Handmaid’s Tale.

Atwood will be in conversation with Kate Schatz (Stevenson ‘01, Creative Writing), the New York Times-bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z.  William “Bro” Adams (Ph.D. History of Consciousness ’82), Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2014 to 2017, will be the event MC.

Please note, this event will not be recorded. Only registered viewers will be able to see and participate in this exclusive, live conversation. RSVP now to secure your spot.

The Testaments

The Deep Read book for 2020 was Margaret Atwood’s latest Booker Prize-winning novel, The Testaments, a sequel to her 1985 classic The Handmaid’s Tale. With The Handmaid’s Tale now a critically acclaimed television series set to enter its fourth season, Atwood’s prescient prose depicting a dystopian future is more relevant than ever. 

The program, which ran parallel with a class and events on campus, sharing insights from Literature, Feminist Studies, Engineering and Anthropology to bear on Atwood’s work. Informed by some of UC Santa Cruz’ brightest minds, The Deep Read expanded our understanding of The Testaments  and modeled deep reading practices that will stimulate minds and foster intellectual engagement.

Catch up on the 4-week exploration of the book:

Week 1: Welcome to Gilead
Week 2: Feminist Intersections
Week 3: Toxic Bodies
Week 4: Atwood Answers

Salon Series—Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz Salon at the UCSC Hay Barn on March 10 featured a conversation with three UCSC professors, each exploring The Testaments from a different angle. 

5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Cowell Ranch Hay Barn
94 Ranch View Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

David Draper, Statistics, Director of the College Scholars Program 
Marcia Ochoa, Feminist Studies
Andrew S. Mathews, Anthropology
Moderator: Laura Martin, Porter College

The Class

In Winter Quarter 2020, a Porter College course, offered in conjunction with the College Scholars Program, is exploring The Testaments and other works by Atwood. Students will attend the Santa Cruz Salon as part of their quarter-long engagement with Atwood’s work. Taught by UC Santa Cruz Literature Lecturer, Laura Martin, the course will inform the curriculum for the Deep Read community. Material developed for the course will be shared via community emails and online.

A Humanities Institute Initiative

For 20 years, The Humanities Institute has fostered a vibrant community at the center of UC Santa Cruz and at the cutting edge of Humanities research, education, and public engagement. This work is essential in the face of ever-changing and tumultuous times. And the Deep Read will be a new platform for intellectual engagement, classes on campus, and major events with top writers and thinkers. We aim to foster thinking deeply across all mediums, driven by conversation and timely engagement with art, culture, politics and scholars here at UC Santa Cruz who see the forest and the trees every day.

Disability-Related Access

The Humanities Institute is committed to providing access to the Deep Read book, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, and to the content of our program. Registered students who need disability-related accommodations to facilitate their full participation should send an email to and we’ll be in touch with some solutions.

Deep Read Partners

UC Santa Cruz Campus

The Humanities Institute
College Scholars Program
Division of Student Success
Porter College
UCSC Council of Provosts
University Library
University Relations


Bookshop Santa Cruz


Email us at

The 2020 Deep Read Program is made possible through the generous support of the Helen and Will Webster Foundation.