Programs & Events

3-Day Regional (Washington, DC), July 13-15: American Protest Literature: Thomas Paine to the Present

Due to the growing health crisis and restrictions on in-person gatherings, the Gilder Lehrman Institute will not be able to offer in-person Teacher Seminars this summer. We are working on an alternative offering for the summer. Please visit for updates.


John Stauffer, Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates 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.

Seminar Policies

This seminar is one of four 3-day Regional Seminars being offered in 2020. Each 3-day seminar will offer topics ranging from the Founding Era through 9/11 with priority given to teachers in the region. This format allows teachers to receive high-quality professional development without traveling far from home.

This seminar will be located at The George Washington University, conveniently located at the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro station on the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, and near lines of the DC Circulator, MARC, Metrobus, and Virginia Railway Express. Parking is available in University garages, and three Capital Bikeshare docking stations are accessible on campus.


All on-campus meals (breakfast and lunch) will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation before applying.


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

Seminar Year: 2019-2020