Hearthside Project: 
Encouraging the Exploration and Celebration of the Humanities at Wartburg College

The Hearthside Project offers faculty and students the unique opportunity to connect around the virtual hearth. The program encourages student/faculty interaction outside the formality of the classroom based on the more intimate learning environments of graduate work, or of a European approach to readings and the discussion of texts often labeled “the directed reading model.”

The program allows students to engage in the process of reading with a professor and to consider connections between their own course of study and the practical and philosophical ideas explored through each text. Texts chosen by faculty and staff emphasize, by topic or implication, the key role of the humanities in contemporary thought. The program is in its 11th year (2021-22) and was developed by the late Dr. Survilla, former Slife Professor in the Humanities (2010-2016). Dr. Zak Montgomery administers the Hearthside Project as the current Slife Professor in the Humanities. The Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission is co-sponsoring the program this year.

Students receive their books free of charge. Reading groups consist of one book leader and three students. To apply, send an email to the participating leader of the book you’re interested in discussing (listed below).

The Storm of Steel for Hearthside project 2022
Harlem Shuffle for Hearthside project 2022
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, for Hearthside project 2022
Think Again, for Hearthside project 2022
Unbound, for Hearthside project 2022
Book of the Unnamed Midwife, for Hearthside project 2022

Readings for Winter 2022:

  • Ethan Blass: “The Storm of Steel”  by Ernst Jünger 
  • Sonja Lynch: “Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead 
  • Rachel Clark: “Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen 
  • Jennifer Larson: “Think Again” by Adam Grant 
  • Lindsey Leonard: “Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement” by Tarana Burke 
  • Penni Pier: “The Book of the Unnamed Midwife” by Meg Ellison 
Marrow Thieves, book for Hearthside Project 2021
Hidden Life of Trees, book for Hearthside Project 2021
Baptized in Tear Gas, book for Hearthside Project 2021
Bad Blood, book for Hearthside Project 2021

Readings for Fall 2021:

  • Cassie Hales:  “Baptized in Tear Gas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist”  by Elle Dowd
  • Scott Larson: The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben
  • Penni Pier: “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline
  • Amy Pilcher: “Bad Blood: Secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou


Zak Montgomery

Professor of Spanish

Jennifer Larson

Associate Professor of Music

Cassie Hales

Director of Residential Life and Chief Student Conduct Officer

Ethan Blass

Assistant Professor of German

Lindsey Leonard

Assistant Dean of Students

Penni Pier

Professor of Journalism and Communication

Rachel Ellen Clark

Associate Professor of English

Sonja Lynch

Associate Professor of English

Amy Pilcher

Assistant Professor of Business Administration