History and the American Imagination
October 28 @ 8:00 pm - October 30 @ 10:00 pm$75
Last year Humanities New York inaugurated History and the American Imagination, our yearly marquee event. As 2020 draws to a close — a year of unprecedented global and national challenges — the divergences between our national history and how we think about and imagine that history are more fateful than ever.
This year we are hosting distinguished scholar Danielle Allen and celebrated author Kiese Laymon for an illuminating conversation about the ways they see American history intersecting with or diverging from Americans’ imaginations. HNY board member Deva Woodly will moderate. The conversation will be the centerpiece of an hour long virtual event illustrating HNY’s work across New York, from Long Island to Buffalo, Plattsburgh to Corning, and will also include a silent auction.
Please consider contributing to HNY so that we can keep the humanities a vital part of the lives of all New Yorkers.
Please join for the premiere at 8:00pm on October 28th — or anytime thereafter until 10:00pm on October 30th — and help support the public humanities in our state and our nation!
History and the American Imagination is a benefit event in support of Humanities New York, a private 501(c)3 that may receive Federal, State, City and private funding. The amount of your contribution that is deductible for federal income tax purposes is limited to the excess of money contributed over the fair market value of goods or services provided by the organization.
Kiese Laymon is a writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. It was named a best book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. Three essays from Laymon’s newly reissued book of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America were selected for inclusion in the Best American series and The Atlantic’s best essays. Laymon’s debut novel, Long Division, which will be reissued in 2021, was honored with the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and was shortlisted for a number of other awards, including The Believer Book Award and the Ernest J. Gaines Fiction Award.
Laymon is a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair and Oxford American. He is the Hubert H. McAlexander Chair of English at the University of Mississippi, and recipient of a 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard. Laymon is at work on several new projects, including the long poem, Good God, the horror novel, And So On, the children’s book, City Summer, Country Summer and the film Heavy: An American Memoir. He is the founder of “The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative,” a program aimed at getting Mississippi kids and their parents, more comfortable reading, writing, revising, and sharing.
Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens, Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education, Why Plato Wrote, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, Education and Equality, and Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.
Allen is a former Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Allen is also the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a distributed research and action lab at Harvard University. The Democratic Knowledge Project seeks to identify, strengthen, and disseminate the bodies of knowledge, skills, and capacities that democratic citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy. Allen co-chaired the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The commission, which was launched “to explore how best to respond to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our political and civic life and to enable more Americans to participate as effective citizens in a diverse 21st-century democracy”, issued a report, titled Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, in June 2020. The report included strategies and policy recommendations “to help the nation emerge as a more resilient democracy by 2026.” She was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow in 2001.
Deva Woodly, Moderator
Deva Woodly is Associate Professor of Politics at the New School and an HNY board member. A former fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, she is the author of The Politics of Common Sense: How Social Movements Use Public Discourse to Change Politics and Win Acceptance (2015). Her current book projects are #BlackLivesMatter and the Democratic Necessity of Social Movements, an examination of the ways that social movements re-politicize public life in times of political despair, and What We Talk About When We Talk About the Economy, a broad investigation of American economic discourse and its implications for politics and policy in the post-Great Recession era.
Humanities New York has been committed to fostering, supporting, and advocating for the public humanities across the State of New York for more than 40 years. The mission of Humanities New York is to strengthen civil society and the bonds of community, using the humanities to foster engaged inquiry and dialogue around social and cultural concerns. We do this through grants, direct service programs, facilitation training, and events like History and the American Imagination. HNY is a private 501(c)3 that may receive Federal, State, City and private funding — and is the New York State-affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.