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.

Join us as we launch this initiative with an in-depth experience of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments—we’ll share new approaches to guide your reading. All you need to do is commit to read, question, and get inspired.

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The Testaments

The Deep Read book for 2020 is 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. 

Sign up for email updates that will help deepen your reading experience. The program, which runs parallel with a class and events on campus, will bring 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 will expand our understanding of The Testaments  and model deep reading practices that will stimulate minds and foster intellectual engagement.

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

Margaret Atwood at UC Santa Cruz*

*Due to ongoing COVID-19 public health measures, this event will no longer be held on April 5. Please check back for updates.

The program will culminate with Margaret Atwood’s visit to the UC Santa Cruz campus on April 5, 2020 where she’ll be in conversation with author Kate Schatz (Stevenson ‘01, Creative Writing), the New York Times-bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z.

Atwood’s other novels include the Giller and Booker Prize-shortlisted Oryx and Crake, as well as Alias Grace, The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, and Booker winner The Blind Assassin

We’ll connect Atwood’s event to the new Deep Read community on campus and off with weeks of digital programming preceding her visit, along with a new course focusing on her work, salons in LA and NYC, and a salon featuring three UC Santa Cruz scholars discussing the novel through the lens of feminist studies, engineering, and anthropology.

Admission is $30.
Free tickets are available for the first 1,000 UCSC students who “Get Tickets” by clicking the button below and visit the event ticketing page.
Quarry Amphitheater, UC Santa Cruz
Sunday April 5 at 5pm TBD
The Peggy Downes Baskin Ethics Lecture & Alumni Weekend Keynote

Salon Series—Santa Cruz & LA*

We’ll be hosting Salons focusing on Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments in Santa Cruz and LA. Salons will be opportunities to discuss the book with an UCSC expert (or 3!) and your fellow community members. The Deep Read is all about bringing the scholarship here on campus to a broad audience, so we hope you’ll go deep with us if you’re in one of these cities.

The Santa Cruz Salon at the UCSC Hay Barn on March 10 will feature 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

Parking is available in lot 116, where hourly parking is available for purchase. Parking is free after 5pm.

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

The Los Angeles Salon will meet in March for food, discussion, and a guest lecture at the home of a UC Santa Cruz Alum. Please sign up above and include your zip code so we can follow up with more details.

*Sadly, we have to cancel our Deep Read LA Salon on March 22nd out of an abundance of caution and because UC Santa Cruz has placed a ban on all non-essential travel for staff and faculty, which means that our moderator not able to travel to LA for the event.

Kresge Reads The Testaments

Due to the new campus policy regarding events and the coronavirus, this event is cancelled.

Get in the Deep Read spirit with a community of readers. Every Wednesday from 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. (through April 1), students, staff, and faculty are welcome to join Kresge Provost Ben Leeds Carson at the Kresge Provost House to read aloud and discuss The Testaments. To find the location, follow Google Maps to “Kresge Provost House,” and park in lot 143. The house is through a marked door in a stucco wall across the street from the lot.

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.