Discussion Questions for The Semester of Our Discontent:
1. What issues were raised within the book?
2. What are some ways in which this book focuses on women and their stories?
3. How does Lila feel about being a newcomer to Stonedale? How has her background influenced the situation?
4. Lila finds that her department chair is not very receptive to her enthusiasm for mystery novels. What do you think about Roland’s position regarding literary and genre fiction? Is there a division? Should there be one?
5. The title adapts a line from the famous “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech in Shakespeare’s Richard III. How does the study—or even idea—of Shakespeare connect to issues raised by the book?
6. Which characters seem to have it out for Lila? Who are her supporters? Is it easy to tell which is which at first glance?
7. As a new assistant professor, Lila knows that everything she says or does has the potential to affect her tenure bid down the road. How does this affect her—as a professor and as a sleuth? What are some of the ways in which she tries to toe the line and what are the results?
8. Because Detective Archer appears to be suspicious of her, Lila is not as willing to go to him for help as she might otherwise be. What should someone do in that situation?
9. Numerous secret societies exist in academia—some of the more famous ones include Skull and Bones, Quill and Dagger, and Sphinx. Historically, many were all-male groups. What do you make of the society and its goals in Semester?
10. Whom would you cast to play the characters in the book (and why)?