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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.


Migrant Landscapes

When Tuesday 25 October, 18.30-20.00
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price£8/£6/£5 Book via British Library box office

Explore the role of geography in the migration crises witnessed this year

So far in 2016, from the Mediterranean Sea to the deserts of the US–Mexico border, thousands of migrants and refugees have died while trying to reach their destinations. As never before, the natural barriers that lie between people fleeing poverty and violence, and their objectives, have become graveyards.

In this event, two specialists with experience of the US–Mexico deserts and the Mediterranean Sea respectively, discuss their work and the role of geography in the current migration crises.

Dr Robin Reineke is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, based in Tucson, Arizona. Colibrí is a non-profit organisation working to end migrant death and related suffering along the US–Mexico border through forensic science, advocacy, and research.

Patrick Kingsley is the Guardian’s inaugural migration correspondent. Throughout 2015 he travelled to seventeen countries along the Mediterranean migrant trails, meeting hundreds of refugees making epic odysseys across deserts, seas and mountains to reach Europe. Published earlier this year, his book The New Odyssey tells the stories of those he encountered.

The event will be chaired by William Atkins, 2016 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence, whose book about the world’s deserts is due to be published by Faber in 2018.

Democrats v Republicans: US Elections Debate

When Friday 28 October, 18.30-20.00
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price£10/£8/£ 7 Book via British Library box office

We discuss how the US presidential race stands just days before the election result. This year’s election campaigns for the US Presidency and Congress have surprised all the experts.

Insurgent campaigns by Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders among the Democrats attracted unexpected support, and shifted the centre point of the ongoing political debate. For the first time in US history a major party chose a woman, Hillary Clinton, as its presidential nominee.

The Presidency, the US Senate and the US House are all being vigorously contested, and all results matter.

As these events approach their climax this debate, moderated by pioneering pollster and Founder of MORI (Market and Opinion Research International) Sir Robert Worcester, and featuring speakers from Republicans Overseas and Democrats Abroad will shed light on the situation just a few days before the US election.

This event is presented in collaboration with Benjamin Franklin House.


Hollywood and the Great Depression

When Tuesday 15 November, 18.30-20.00
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price£8/£6/£5 Book via British Library box office

Just how much did Hollywood change during the Great Depression?

Marking the launch of Iwan Morgan and Philip Davies (eds.) Hollywood and the Great Depression: American Film, Politics, and Society in the 1930s, we examine how Hollywood underwent greater change in the 1930s than in any other decade in its history.

An industry that was already grappling with the expense of new sound technology was faced with a financial crisis of unprecedented proportions as a result of the Great Depression. This event explains how the studio system adapted to the challenges of the early 1930s and explores how the movies it produced reflected the economic, political, and international issues of the Great Depression era.

Hollywood and the Great Depression: American Film, Politics, and Society in the 1930s is published by Edinburgh University Press, 2016.

30 Years of Bloomsbury Publishing

When Monday 21 November, 18.30-20.00
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price£8/£6/£5 Book via British Library box office

Nigel Newton, an entrepreneur and publisher like Benjamin Franklin, looks back over the thrills and spills – the key moments in the story of the publishing house he started 30 years ago

Among Bloomsbury Publishing’s best-known authors are J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books, Khaled Hosseini with The Kite Runner and Michael Ondaatje with The English Patient.

Nigel was born and raised in San Francisco. He read English at Cambridge and after working at Macmillan Publishers, he joined Sidgwick & Jackson. He left Sidgwick in 1986 to start Bloomsbury.

Bloomsbury floated on The London Stock Exchange in 1994 and has grown organically through acquisitions and partnerships. Bloomsbury has 700 members of staff and publishes 2,500 books a year from its offices in the UK, US, India and Australia.

Nigel Newton serves as Chairman of the British Library Trust, President of Book Aid International, Chairman of the Charleston Trust, member of the Man Booker Prize Advisory Committee, Trustee of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, past Chair of World Book Day, past member of the Publishers Association Council and Member of the Advisory Committee of Cambridge University Library.

This event is presented in collaboration with Benjamin Franklin House.

The Pianist Who Transformed the Cold War

When Friday 25 November, 19.00-20.30
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price £8/£6/£5 Book via British Library box office

Nigel Cliff tells the remarkable story of an iconic Cold War moment and its aftermath

In 1958, a 23-year-old Texan pianist named Van Cliburn arrived in Moscow to try his luck in the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. With Cold War tensions soaring and a Soviet pianist already selected as the intended winner, few thought an American stood an outside chance. Yet the moment the tall, boyish Texan began playing, the Soviets fell in love with his personality and his grandly romantic way with their beloved music. Amid political machinations that reached all the way to newly installed premier Nikita Khrushchev, Cliburn stormed his way to an upset victory.

The result astonished the world and launched a career that catapulted Cliburn to rock-star celebrity in both the United States and the Soviet Union. A political naïf who strove and often struggled to live up to his unsought role as a musical ambassador, Cliburn continued to play a role in pivotal Cold War events right up to the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1987.

Launching his new book Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story—How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War, Nigel Cliff pieces together politics, personality and pianism.

US Politics Today: Election Year 2016

When Monday 28 & Tuesday 29 November, 10.00-15.30
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price £12 Refer to instructions below for reservation

'US Politics Today' is the Eccles Centre's popular annual one-day conference for A-Level students. A chance to hear former US Congressmen talk about their experiences of working in Congress, and reflect on the election year. This year, we are pleased to be joined by the honorable Martin Frost (D-TX) and the honorable Phil Gingrey (R- GA).

The day will also include talks by academics on US foreign policy, the Supreme Court in an election year, the 21st Century presidency, and an opportunity for students to ask their own questions of the Congressmen.

For information on how to reserve places for students and teachers, please see the Sixth Form Conference page.

Mapping, Power Politics, and the Challenge of the Americas

When Thursday 8 December, 18.30-20.00
Where The British Library Conference Centre
Price £10/£8/£7 Book via British Library box office

This lecture develops themes advanced in Jeremy Black's book Maps and Politics.

An illustrated talk that reflects the relationships between mapping and power politics, and the extent to which the European 'discovery' of the Americas created issues for mapping. Issues that were exacerbated as the major powers came into conflict with a focus on North America.

Cartography emerges as a utilitarian tool but also as an expression of political drives at the international level, as well as a reflection of the strong public interest in the outside world.

Professor Jeremy Black is the holder of the Established Chair in History at the University of Exeter and is one of Britain’s most prolific and distinguished historians. Among his many publications are Visions of the World: A History of Maps, Maps and Politics, Maps and History, and Maps That Changed the World. He was awarded an MBE for services to stamp design.

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