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Forthcoming events and conferences

The Eccles Centre for American Studies regularly organises and supports conferences, seminars, lectures and other events on North American and transatlantic themes, often in partnership with other institutions and organisations.


The Intimate History of Democracy and Money

When Tuesday 24 May, 18.30-20.00
Where British Library Terrace Restaurant
Price£8 / £6 / £5 Book via the BL Box Office

The 2016 Robert H Smith lecture examines the historical relationship between democracy and money in America

The American political system is awash with billions of dollars, a situation that may well compromise the country’s democratic aspirations. How did the US arrive at this point? Most commentary focuses on the Supreme Court’s recent (2010) Citizens’ United decision. Gary Gerstle argues, however, that the troubled relationship between money and democracy originated two hundred years earlier when America first became a mass democracy and invented political parties. Managing a large and rambunctious democracy turned out to be hugely expensive business; and with the Constitution making no provision for publicly funded elections, parties fashioned themselves into brilliant money-raising machines, becoming the largest and most powerful organizations in nineteenth-century America. Dependent for their continued success on large infusions of cash, they gave monied interests extraordinary opportunities to penetrate governing institutions. Popular movements sought repeatedly to contest the influence of private money, but few enjoyed more than temporary or partial success. The money necessary to sustain democracy in America was simply too great. In making his points, Gerstle sweeps across American history, discussing the intersection of elections and money from the age of Jackson to the age of Trump.

Gary Gerstle is the Paul Mellon Professor of American History and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. He is the author of Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present (2015), described by the Financial Times as a “towering achievement”.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library in collaboration with Benjamin Franklin House.

Sacred Spaces Sanctuary featuring The Dream Warriors

When Tuesday 31 May, 17.00-18.00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price Free entry, booking required Book via Eventbrite

Members of the Dream Warriors Native American Artists’ collective will perform for the first time in London. Poet Tanaya Winder will perform from her debut collection of poems 'Words Like Love'. Tanaya will take us on a journey through the joys, laments and the highs and lows of love. Frank Waln and The Sampson Brothers will perform alongside Tanaya Winder. Sacred Spaces, Sanctuary will feature a short crowd sourced film created for the collaborative project.

The Sacred Spaces, Sanctuary collaboration is a multi-arts research & development project funded primarily by Arts Council England that explores the cultural, artistic and human connection with Sacred Land, nature, green and blue spaces and the environment. As part of this project, local artists working in ceramics, theatre, costume, digital art and coding are currently using these mediums to explore the concept of Sacred Spaces with groups from in and around Liverpool. The work produced will be combined into a specially commissioned piece involving the Dream Warriors quartet, who will be sharing Contemporary Native American Culture and artistic practices with UK artists and audiences in a series of workshops leading up to the event.

Books Talk Back with Alison MacLeod

When Friday 3 June, 18.30-20.00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price Free Book via the BL Box Office

An informal, interactive literary event for aspiring authors

A panel of aspiring authors read an extract of their unpublished fiction to a published author and the audience, then receive feedback from both. Guest Author Alison MacLeod, shares insight and ideas for short-story writers and the audience are welcome to ask questions.

Books Talk Back is the initiative of Isabelle King. She wanted to create a platform for aspiring authors to share their work in a friendly, fun and supportive environment whilst gaining constructive feedback.

All the World's A Stage: Shakespeare in Europe and the Americas

When Friday 10 June, 10.30-17.00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £25 / £18 / £15 Book via the BL Box Office

This study day brings together leading specialists to explore Shakespeare’s global cultural presence from Europe to the Americas via the Indian Ocean

No writer's work has been translated, performed and transformed by as many cultures across the world as Shakespeare's. Themes include Shakespeare's source material, postcolonial adaptations, performance on stage and film and the cultural politics of European Shakespeare.

The programme for the day can be found here

The study day will be followed by a wine reception.

In partnership with the AHRC Translating Cultures Theme, the Polish Cultural Institute and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.

The Folio Academy Sessions

When Saturday 18 - Sunday 19 June
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price Various Book via the BL Box Office

For the third year running, the Folio Prize Foundation and the British Library host some of the world’s finest writers and their guests

At a weekend devoted to the art of storytelling, over eight sessions each programmed by a different member of the Folio Prize Academy, the weekend will explore how stories have the power to transform us: how they can impact individuals and effect social change. Tickets can be purchased for individual events or day and weekend passes are available.

Utopia: The Impossible Dream

When Saturday 18 June, 13.45- 15.00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £10 / £8 / £7 Book via the BL Box Office

Paul Mason, Richard Francis, Nikita Lalwani and Rupert Thomson

Taking their cue from the Library’s Visions of Utopia display, our panel will explore the narrative power of the Utopian ideal, and whether it can act as an effective agent – in writing, philosophy and art – for social change. Paul Mason, the award-wining journalist and, most recently, author of PostCapitalism, is joined by novelist, historian and utopia-expert Richard Francis, and by two acclaimed writers whose work has offered up both utopian and dystopian perspectives on our world: novelist and Liberty trustee Nikita Lalwani, and novelist and memoirist Rupert Thomson.

Not Even Past: Historical Narratives

When Saturday 18 June, 15.30-16.45
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £10 / £8 / £7 Book via the BL Box Office

Tracy Chevalier, Jane Harris and Tom Holland

‘The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.’ William Faulkner understood why so many of the stories we tell are rooted in history. Whether creating fiction or interpreting fact, is 'writing history' more about defining where we came from or understanding who we are now? Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, and Jane Harris, author of The Observations, are both acclaimed, best-selling writers of historical fiction. Tom Holland is an award-winning historian of works including Rubicon and, most recently, Dynasty. Together they investigate the challenges and rewards of looking forwards by looking back.

A Place Called Home

When Sunday 19 June, 13.30-14.45
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £10 / £8 / £7 Book via the BL Box Office

Caryl Phillips, Penelope Lively, Glyn Maxwell and Maya Jaggi

Robert Frost wrote that ‘home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in’. What constitutes ‘home’ - who decides what it is, how we create it, who is welcome - has long been a source of fascination for writers and artists; but now, as our world shrinks and people move around it more freely and often less willingly, it has also become an urgent political matter. The multi-award-winning novelist and playwright, Caryl Phillips, is joined by three others who share his interest: Booker Prize-winner, Penelope Lively; poet, playwright and librettist, Glyn Maxwell; and writer and cultural critic Maya Jaggi.

Ezra Furman: The Velvet Underground, Punk Pioneers

When Thursday 23 June, 19.30-21.00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £12/£10/£8 Book via the BL Box Office

An intimate evening with genre-fluid American singer-songwriter Ezra Furman reflecting on the Velvet Underground’s influence on punk and their musical legacy.

In his words, Lou Reed was “radically ambiguous and radically free.” Ezra will be in conversation and performing covers of their hits.

Punk 1976-78 is part of Punk London, a year of events, gigs, films, talks and exhibits celebrating 40 years of punk heritage and influence in London.

Hey! Ho! Let's Go!: The Day the Ramones Ignited Punk

When Monday 4 July, 18.30-22.15
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £15/£12/£ 10 Book via the BL Box Office

Join Ramones Manager Danny Fields looking at the moment the US collided with the UK and Punk was born

Forty years ago, on 4th July 1976, the Ramones played their debut UK concert at London’s Roundhouse, followed the next day by another at Dingwalls. The shows that long hot summer have achieved legendary status. For many – including members of the Pistols, the Stranglers, the Clash and the Damned watching on – the band’s thrilling, fast, rebellious, New York sound blew open the possibilities of music and gave sudden acceleration to the styles that would become Punk.

The Ramones manager on those nights was Danny Fields, a man with a pivotal role behind some of the great American music of the 20th century. He makes an exclusive appearance, in conversation with Barney Hoskyns, to tell the story of the moment the US collided with the UK, and is joined by other special guests who were there.

The event will also feature a book signing of My Ramones (published this summer by First Third Books), followed by a screening of Danny Says. This acclaimed documentary, directed by Brendan Toller, tells the story of Danny Fields remarkable musical and cultural journey since 1966 working for the Doors, Cream, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins and managing ground-breaking artists like the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. Danny Says is a story of marginal turning mainstream, avant garde turning prophetic, and looks to the next generation.

Punk 1976-78 is part of Punk London, a year of events, gigs, films, talks and exhibits celebrating 40 years of punk heritage and influence in London

The Sex Pistols and America

When Tuesday 5 July, 18.30-20.00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £10/£8/£7 Book via the BL Box Office

Hear the story of the Sex Pistols tour of America

The Sex Pistols notorious 1978 tour of the southern US was one of the more surreal moments in music history. Banned from the radio and venues at home, the rapidly disintegrating band played places like Memphis, Baton Rouge, San Antonio and Dallas, in a move calculated by manager Malcolm McLaren to generate maximum culture clash. Bob Gruen was one of the acclaimed photographers on the tour and he is joined by US music specialist Brian Ward.

Punk 1976-78 is part of Punk London, a year of events, gigs, films, talks and exhibits celebrating 40 years of punk heritage and influence in London

Summer Scholars

When Mondays and Fridays from 4 July - 26 August, 12.30-14.00
Where British Library Conference Centre & The Foyle Room
Price Free, no booking required

The Eccles Centre sponsors numerous Visiting Fellowships and Postgraduate Research Awards each year. The Summer Scholars programme will highlight the work that they have done during their residency in the British Library, bringing the latest research related to the North Americas collections to a public audience.

Details of the programme will be announced shortly on here, and by the newsletter which you can sign up to here.

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