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John Stauffer, Professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University


This interdisciplinary seminar examines the rich tradition of protest literature in the United States from the American Revolution to the present.  We focus on “literature,” broadly construed, that critiques society, suggests a solution to its ills, and functions as a catalyst, guide, or mirror of social change. Using a wide variety of primary sources, we explore the historical links between forms of protest, uses of literature, and social change.

We pay particular attention to the ways in which protest literature functions as rhetorical, political, and aesthetic texts within specific cultural contexts.

The seminar has been designed to align with Common Core State Standards. It offers ways to teach literacy through history, and history through canonical literature.


Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. “Readings” include political documents, fiction, essays, poetry, photography, and music. Please check back for readings.

Travel & Accommodations

Harvard University is located outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and is easily accessible by all forms of transportation. Boston Logan International Airport serves the campus by train, car, taxi, or shuttle. The Harvard website provides a detailed transportation page that may help you plan your trip.

Workshop participants will be housed in an on-campus dormitory. Participants will be placed in private rooms, but may share bathroom facilities. The university provides bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.


Meals will be served in a cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Travel Reimbursement

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.

Graduate Credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

June 29th, 2014 5:00 PM   through   July 5th, 2014 9:00 AM
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
United States

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Event Fee(s)
Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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