The RAI hosts research seminars, classes, and conferences in American Literature and is home to a thriving community of faculty members and graduate students. The current Drue Heinz Professor of American Literature is Lloyd Pratt, an expert in nineteenth-century American literature, especially African American literature.
The American Literature Research Seminar brings scholars and critics from across the world to the RAI to present ground-breaking and influential work. We also regularly host conferences, such as a recent symposium on ‘Rhetorics of Reading: American Contexts and Methods in Literary Studies’, organised by Nicholas Gaskill and Rachel Malkin.
The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters in Trinity term is the centrepiece of the university’s American literary calendar and has been given by some of America's most eminent writers. Recent lectures have been given by Michael Chabon, Joy Harjo, Deborah Treisman, Claudia Rankine, and Hilton Als.
Regular public-facing events bring authors, academics and readers into conversation. Speakers in recent years have included the James Tait Black Prize Winner Benjamin Markovits, Costa Prize Winner Andrea Wulf, n+1 magazine editor Mark Greif, and the acclaimed poet and writer Eileen Myles.
We also regularly hold book launches for our RAI Fellows and other Americanists, featuring discussion of the book by an expert panel.