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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.

Summer Scholars Seminar Series 2014

Join the Eccles Centre for a series of free lunchtime events where writers and scholars will discuss their work and forthcoming publications in an informal setting.

Attendance is free and all are welcome. Tea and coffee will be provided. To reserve a place, please email All events take place at the British Library Conference Centre.

Details of individual forthcoming events are below. A series leaflet is also available to download. Details of previous events can be found here.

When Monday 4 August, 12:30-14:00
Where Conference Centre, Eliot Room
Food Diplomacy, Victual Warfare, and the Revolutionary Atlantic

Rachel Herrmann (University of Southampton; Eccles Centre Visiting Fellow) discusses her book No Useless Mouth which asks how Native Americans, free blacks, and slaves used food to wage war and broker peace during and after the American Revolution.

When Friday 8 August, 12:30-14:00
Where Conference Centre, Eliot Room
The Brooklyn Bridge and its Beginnings: Across America in the Steps of Washington Roebling

Erica Wagner (Eccles British Library Writer in Residence) discusses her research on Washington Roebling, the engaging and articulate engineer who built the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

When Monday 11 August, 12:30-14:00
Where Conference Centre, Eliot Room
Ireland and Irish America in the First British Empire

Benjamin Bankhurst (Postdoctoral Fellow of North American History at the Institute of Historical Research) talks about his book Ulster Presbyterians and the Scots Irish Diaspora, 1750-1764, which examines how news regarding the violent struggle to control the borderlands of British North America resonated among communities in Ireland with familial links to the colonies. The book was awarded the 2013 Donald Murphy prize for Distinguished First Books by the American Council for Irish Studies

When Friday 12 September, 12:30-14:00
Where Conference Centre, Eliot Room
Theodore Roosevelt: A Literary Fellow

Katherine Joslin (Western Michigan University; Eccles Centre Visiting Professor), and co-author Tom Bailey (Western Michigan University), talk about Theodore Roosevelt as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters and his friendships with contemporary writers in the United States and Great Britain.

Alan Rusbridger – Reflections on Press Freedom

When Monday 8 September 2014, 18:30-20:30
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £8/£6/£5 Book tickets via the BL Box Office

In this Benjamin Franklin House Symposium, Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief of Guardian News & Media, will share his views on freedom of the press. During his editorship The Guardian has fought a number of high-profile battles over press freedom and libel, including cases involving Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitken, the Police Federation, Trafigura, and Wikileaks. In 2013 The Guardian broke world exclusive stories by publishing NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, for which they were jointly awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service with the Washington Post.

This event is organised in collaboration with the Benjamin Franklin House.

Prisoners of the Blob: Why Most Educational Experts Are Wrong About Everything

When Tuesday 9 September 2014, 18:30-20:30
Where British Library Terrace Restaurant
Price £8/£6/£5 Book tickets via the BL Box Office

For the 2014 Eccles Centre/Fulbright Commission Lecture, Toby Young will discuss the ‘pernicious influence’ of romantic ideas on the public education systems of Britain and America, particularly in the last 50 years, and make the case for a more traditional, knowledge-based approach to teaching.

Toby Young is a journalist and author. He is also the CEO of the West London Free School Academy Trust, an educational charity which has set up a number of free schools, as well as the author of a forthcoming book about the new primary national curriculum, What Every Parent Needs to Know.  Young is a follower of the American educationalist E.D. Hirsch, the former Professor of Education at the University of Virginia and author of Cultural Literacy. Young is a member of the US-UK Fulbright Commission’s Board of Commissioners.

The talk will be followed by a wine reception.

This event is co-sponsored by the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

Books Talk Back

When Monday 22 September 2014, 18:30-20:30
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price Free by reservation (email to reserve a place)

The Eccles Centre for American Studies is delighted to host Books Talk Back, an informal and interactive literary event for aspiring authors. At each event, a small, selected panel of unpublished authors read an extract of their novel to a published author and audience, then receive feedback from both.

At this event, guest novelist, Naomi Wood (Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2012) will be sharing advice for aspiring authors and discussing her latest novel Mrs Hemingway.

If you are a writer or reader of fiction, enjoy listening to and discussing new writing, then we hope you will join us. The room will be open with complementary refreshments available from 6pm. The discussion will start at 6.30pm.

RSVP to to confirm your place. For more information, visit To learn more about the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence programme, visit

Mary Borden in the Forbidden Zone: An American Nurse at the Western Front

When Friday 3 October 2014, 18:45-20:15
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £5/£4/£3 Book tickets via the BL Box Office

Chicago heiress, society beauty, mother of three and a rising literary novelist, Mary Borden left her glamorous lifestyle behind in 1915 to run a French Army hospital at the Western Front. In this talk Hazel Hutchison  uncovers the story of how this extraordinary woman found herself at war, and explores her hauntingly powerful book about the conflict, The Forbidden Zone.

Written largely at the Front, Borden’s eerie, humane and sometimes darkly comic account of her time in the war zone, was silenced by censorship regulations when she first tried to publish it in 1917. Eventually issued in 1929 to a public still reluctant to accept the full horrors of the war, The Forbidden Zone reveals the terrible ironies of nursing under military command, and tells a little-known story of American idealism and service in the early years of the war.

Hazel Hutchison is the President of the Henry James Society and the Director of the Centre for the Novel at the University of Aberdeen. Her latest book, The War That Used Up Words: American Writers in a European Conflict, 1914-1918, will be published by Yale University Press later this year.

This talk is part of the events programme for the Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour exhibition.

Symposium: 100 Years of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation

When Friday 28 November 2014, 12:30-17:00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price Free (Reservation via Eventbrite)

Inspired by the centenary of one of the most controversial films ever made, this symposium will consider the issues raised by the film, such as popular culture, national mythologies, the American South, racism, transnationalism, memorialisation, art, politics and ethics.

The symposium will feature a keynote lecture by Michael Hammond (University of Southampton) as well as panel sessions showcasing current scholarship.

Light refreshments will be provided.

The symposium is organised in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University and the University of Manchester.

* * * * *

The symposium marks the launch of a multi-disciplinary network which will be hosting a year-long programme of events from November 2014 to November 2015 exploring the centenary of The Birth of a Nation, in partnership with public institutions and educational projects, including the International Slavery Museum and the Race Relations Centre, Manchester.

For more information on the network and its programme of events, please contact Ian Scott (University of Manchester),, and Jenny Barrett (Edge Hill University),

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