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 (ALRS) 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 conference on ‘Rhetorics of Reading: American Contexts and Methods in Literary Studies’, organised by Associate Professor Nicholas Gaskill and RAI Senior Dr Fellow 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, including Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, C.K. Williams, Tobias Wolff, Marilynne Robinson, Jennifer Egan, and Lydia Davis.
The termly RAI Book Club brings together a panel of experts to discuss a topical book – and sometimes the author as a guest speaker. Recent authors at the RAI Book Club have included Saidiya Hartmann and Joe Sacco.
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. Watch some of our past book launches here.