At the University of Chicago, faculty and students pursue advanced projects on American culture from within the departments of Anthropology, Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, Economics, English, History, Linguistics, Music, Romance Languages, Philosophy, Psychology, Political Science, Public Policy, Social Thought, Sociology, Visual Arts, as well as in the Divinity School and the Law School.

The Scherer Center helps coordinate the University’s rich and diverse scholarly interest in the study of American culture by sponsoring courses, seminars, and lunch-time discussions of new work; by bringing distinguished visitors to campus for lectures, symposia, and conferences; and by developing forums for meaningful interactions among scholars of different disciplines and the public.


Director, Eric Slauter

Eric Slauter is Deputy Dean of the Humanities and the College at the University of Chicago, where he is an associate professor in the Department of English, an associate faculty member in the Divinity School, and serves as the founding director of the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture. 

A specialist in early American cultural, intellectual, legal, and political history, Slauter earned a PhD at Stanford University and has held research fellowships at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, and the Newberry Library. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He has chaired the faculty board of the University of Chicago Press and served for a year as visiting editor at the William and Mary Quarterly, the leading journal of early American history. 

Slauter is the author of The State as a Work of Art: The Cultural Origins of the Constitution, which received honorable mention in the MLA Prize for a First Book. He has published articles on the “trade gap” between history and literature in Atlantic studies, a short biography of the enslaved eighteenth-century painter Scipio Moorhead, and a series of essays on the language of rights and equality in early America. He recently recorded twelve lectures on the Declaration of Independence for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York and is completing a book on the Declaration’s origins, meanings, and afterlives. Over the past decade he has also given invited talks on a research project that blends environmental, labor, and literary history, “Walden’s Carbon Footprint: People, Plants, Animals, and Machines in the Making of an American Classic,” and he is preparing a book addressed to a general audience.

Since 2008, Slauter has directed the Karla Scherer Center’s flagship course: a multidisciplinary seminar designed for graduate students in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, the Divinity School, and the Law School that features lectures, readings, and visits by Americanist faculty from across the University. The course has enrolled 130 graduate students and featured conversations with 62 different members of the Chicago faculty housed in sixteen departments and four professional schools, from assistant professors of anthropology, creative writing, history, law, sociology, and social work to Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Fellows. This unique forum has enabled students in the Humanities to connect with and contribute to cutting-edge developments around campus. The seminar’s earliest alumni include assistant professors of American studies, anthropology, art history, English, history, and religious studies who are now beginning to publish their own first books.

Center Administrator, Nolan Kishbaugh

As administrator of The Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, Nolan manages the Center’s communications, finances, and daily operations. Nolan previously earned an M.A from the University of Chicago’s MAPH program, focusing on contemporary analytic philosophy.

Contact Us

The Scherer Center office, located at 1155 East 60th Street, Room 329, is available by appointment.

Email: americanculture@uchicago.edu