Join us for Books That Shaped America—conversations for the American University and metro-D.C. communities about books that have helped shape American society, based on the list
developed by the Library of Congress.
Attendees are encouraged—but not required—to have read the featured text. Admission is free for this series and no RSVP is required to attend.
The Books That Shaped America series is cosponsored by the American University Library and the Humanities Lab at American University.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: All American Weekend Edition Saturday, October 22, 2016 2–3 p.m. Bender Library, Mud Box Café (Lower Level)
University Professor of History Alan Kraut will lead an engaging conversation about the best-selling novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Learn about this early socially conscious novel that examines poverty, alcoholism, gender roles, loss of innocence and the struggle to live the American Dream in an inner city neighborhood of Irish American immigrants. This event is adapted from the Library’s ongoing “Books That Shaped America” series and was such a thought-provoking discussion, we asked Professor Kraut to offer it again! Light refreshments will be served.
And The Band Played On Tuesday, March 7, 2017 12-1pm Training and Events Room 115
Tristan Cabello, Director, American Studies, will lead a discussion about And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, the story of how the AIDS epidemic spread and how the government’s initial indifference to the disease allowed its spread and gave urgency to devoting government resources to fighting the virus.
The Joy of Cooking Tuesday, November 15, 2017 12-1pm Training and Events Room 115
Stephanie Hartman, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer, Department of Literature, will discuss The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Hartman, who teaches the American Studies course, “Food, Media, and Culture,” will talk about the book’s significance and the evolution of recipes, cookbooks, and food blogs.
View all past Books That Shaped America presentations on our You Tube channel here.
April 19, 2016:Marianne Noble, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, discussed The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
April 5, 2016: Alex Hodges, Curriculum Materials & Education Librarian, discussed The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
March 22, 2016:Despina Kakoudaki, Associate Professor and Director, Humanities Lab, discussed Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
February 23, 2016: In celebration of Black History Month, Theresa Runstedtler, Associate Professor, Department of History, discussed The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
November 2015:Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez, Professor of Education, discussed a childhood favorite, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
October 2015: Daniel Whitman, Assistant Professor of Foreign Policy at the Washington Semester Program, discussed Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
October 2015: Department of Literature Associate Professor Keith Leonard repeated his presentation about the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, a special event for All American Weekend.
September 2015: Alan M. Kraut, University Professor of History, discussed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
April 2015:Marianne Noble, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, College of Arts & Sciences led a discussion about Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Photos
March 2015: Mary Clark, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost, Professor, Washington College of Law, discussed Family Limitation by Margaret Sanger. Photos
March 2015: Karl Kippola, Assistant Professor, Department of Performing Arts, College of Arts & Sciences, discussed The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill. Photos
February 2015: Keith Leonard, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, College of Arts & Sciences, discussed Beloved by Toni Morrison. Photos
January 2015: Richard Wilson, Professor, Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic, Washington College of Law, led a discussion of Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Photos
November 2014:Erik Dussere, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, College of Arts & Sciences, discussed Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Photos
April 2014: Assistant Professor Nimai Mehta, School of Professional & Extended Studies, led a discussion of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
October 2014:Jonathan Tubman, Vice Provost for Research & Dean of Graduate Studies, discussed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey.
October 2014:Lewis Grossman, Professor, Washington College of Law, Affiliate Professor of History, reprised a discussion of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, first given in October 2013.
October 2014: Timothy Staples, Assistant Director of Training and Leadership Development, Housing and Dining Programs, discussed A Street In Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks.
September 2014: Michael Manson, Director, University Honors Program, discussed New Hampshire by Robert Frost.
April 2014: Associate Dean Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, School of International Studies, led a discussion of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, audio, slides, photos (audio and slides courtesy of Patrick Thaddeus Jackson)
February 2014: Assistant Professor and Director of Creative Writing Kyle Dargan, Department of Literature, College of Arts & Sciences, led a discussion of The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.
January 2014: Dean Carola Weil, School of Professional & Extended Studies, led a discussion of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois, photos
November 2013: University Librarian Nancy Davenport led a discussion of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury photos
October 2013: Professor Lewis Grossman, Washington College of Law, led a discussion of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, photos
September 2013: Department Chair Nathan Harshman, Department of Physics, College of Arts & Sciences, led a discussion of Experiments and Observations on Electricity by Benjamin Franklin, photos
June 2013: Assistant Professor Thomas Merrill, Department of Government, School of Public Affairs, led a discussion of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, photos
May 2013: Department Chair Pamela Nadell, Department of History, College of Arts & Sciences, led a discussion of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, photos
April 2013: Professor Cynthia Jones, Washington College of Law, led a discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.