Programs and Events

Alongside our interdisciplinary seminar, the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture sponsors interdisciplinary conferences, lectures, workshops, and other events both on and off-campus. We also coordinate with various existing graduate student workshops on campus.  Students interested in collaborating with the Scherer Center should contact Nolan Kishbaugh.


Impermanent Blackness: The Making and Unmaking of Interracial Literary Culture in Modern America, A conversation with Korey Garibaldi, Tuesday May 23, 2023 6:00pm -7:00pm (CST) @ The Seminary Co-Op Bookstore.

Join us for a conversation with Korey Garibaldi on his recent book Impermanent Blackness: The Making and Unmaking of Interracial Literary Culture in Modern America (Princeton University Press). The discussion will be hosted by Eric Slauter, Director of the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

About the Author: Korey Garibaldi is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters faculty, Garibaldi was a joint residential fellow of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

About the book: In Impermanent Blackness, Korey Garibaldi explores interracial collaborations in American commercial publishing—authors, agents, and publishers who forged partnerships across racial lines—from the 1910s to the 1960s. Garibaldi shows how aspiring and established Black authors and editors worked closely with white interlocutors to achieve publishing success, often challenging stereotypes and advancing racial pluralism in the process.

Impermanent Blackness explores the complex nature of this almost-forgotten period of interracial publishing by examining key developments, including the mainstream success of African American authors in the 1930s and 1940s, the emergence of multiracial children’s literature, postwar tensions between supporters of racial cosmopolitanism and of “Negro literature,” and the impact of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements on the legacy of interracial literary culture.

By the end of the 1960s, some literary figures once celebrated for pushing the boundaries of what Black writing could be, including the anthologist W. S. Braithwaite, the bestselling novelist Frank Yerby, the memoirist Juanita Harrison, and others, were forgotten or criticized as too white. And yet, Garibaldi argues, these figures—at once dreamers and pragmatists—have much to teach us about building an inclusive society. Revisiting their work from a contemporary perspective, Garibaldi breaks new ground in the cultural history of race in the United States.

Past Events:

The Matter of Black Living: The Aesthetic Experiment of Racial Data, 1880-1930 with Autumn Womack, Thursday May 5, 2022

A conversation with Autumn Womack, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and English at Princeton University, on her recent book The Matter of Black Living: The Aesthetic Experiment of Racial Data, 1880–1930 (University of Chicago Press). The discussion will be hosted by Eric Slauter, Director of the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

The Transcendentalists and Their World: A conversation with Robert A. Gross, Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Bancroft Prize-winning historian Robert A. Gross on his new book, The Transcendentalists and Their Worldrecently named one of the top 10 books of 2021 by the Wall Street Journal. The discussion will be hosted by Eric Slauter, Director of the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

To watch this talk, click here.

The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are: A conversation with David M. Henkin, Thursday January 27, 2022, 6:00pm -7:00pm CST (via Zoom)

A conversation with David Henkin on his recent book The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are (Yale University Press), one of the Seminary Co-op’s notable books of 2021. The discussion will be hosted by Eric Slauter, Director of the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

To watch this talk, click here.

Beyond Belief, Beyond Conscience:  The Radical Significance of the Free Exercise of Religion

Thursday, October 15, 4:30pm-5:30pm (CST)

Aconversation on the First Amendment between two leading experts on American constitutional law and history, the first in a series of events supported by the Scherer Center focused on the theme of amending America. This conversation, prompted by the recent publication of Jack Rakove’s Beyond Belief, Beyond Conscience: The Radical Significance of the Free Exercise of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2020) in the Inalienable Rights Series edited by Geoffrey Stone, promises to range across history, politics, and law to address the origins, meanings, and contested legacies of the idea of religious freedom.

Jack N. Rakove is William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University. He is the author of six books, including Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, finalist for the George Washington Book Prize, and Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, which won the Pulitzer Prize. 

Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and the author of many books on constitutional law, including Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century and Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism, which received book prizes in political science, law, and history. His next book will be National Security, Leaks and The Freedom of the Press

A Conversation on the Fifteenth Amendment:

Eric Foner (Columbia University) will discuss his recent book, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution, with interlocutor Thomas C. Holt (University of Chicago).

Thursday, October 22, 4:30pm-5:30pm (CST)

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, specializes in the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and 19th-century America. He is the author of many works, which include The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery which won the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Lincoln prizes (2011), as well as Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988), which was the winner, among other awards, of the Bancroft Prize, Parkman Prize, and Los Angeles Times Book Award.

Thomas C. Holt, James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African American History,  has taught at Howard University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago. Holt’s first book Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction (1977) won the Sydnor Award from the Southern Historical Association. Another of his books, The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832–1938, (1992) was awarded the 1995 Elsa Goveia Prize by the Association of Caribbean Historians. 

Citywide Partnerships

The Scherer Center is a proud co-sponsor of the Newberry Library’s Seminar in American Art and Visual CultureSeminar in Early American History and CultureSeminar in Labor History, the Urban History Dissertation Group, and the Seminar on Women and Gender.