You Can Be The Next Great American Writer: Why You Should Visit The American Writers Museum


(Image Courtesy of The American Writers Museum)


Poet Emma Lazarus captures the essence of American writers in her poem New Colossus (1883). Lazarus discusses how America extols individualism and meritocracy. Her words greeted hundreds of thousands of immigrants coming to the United States searching for prosperity, peace, and opportunity. To be an American writer, a person can tell the world about their experiences as an individual, member of a group, and American. Thus, the American writer can teach the world how an individual can represent a group. The American Writers Museum celebrates how American writers have changed the writing world. I had the chance to talk to Matt Masino, Social Media Coordinator, to learn more about why you should visit the museum.



(Logo Courtesy of The American Writers Museum)



1. What makes American literature distinct?

An American writer explores how their group and individual identity intersect with the national stage. American writers are unique because the writer can either be born or immigrated to the United States. Thus, American writers discover how their individual, group (race, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, etc.), and national identity reflect the national character.



(Image Courtesy of The American Writers Museum)



2. How do American author define what it means to be an American?

An American author's experience revolves around an individual's experiences. One can learn how an individual describes the American character in our American Voices Exhibit, where one hundred different writers (pre-colonial to modern era) tell their stories. The space lets visitors learn how earlier American writers inspire contemporary authors. An example of this is how William Faulkner influenced Toni Morrison's syntax and sentence structure.



(Image of Morrison courtesy of https://aas.princeton.edu/people/toni-morrison and Image of Faulkner courtesy of https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1949/faulkner/biographical/ )


3. Why should someone visit the museum?

The museum is an interactive space where people can use visual, audio, and kinetic learning techniques to discover the stories of American writing. My favorite exhibit is The Surprise Bookshelf, where a person can look at different wooden panels and discover the sounds, sights, touches, and smells of that work. In the Jurassic Park panel, there is a mosquito mummified in amber.



(Image Courtesy of The American Writers Museum)


4. How has the museum evolved since the pandemic?

We continued to serve our community during the pandemic even though we did not utilize our physical space. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have shifted various temporary and permanent exhibits online. We also have virtual programming where the community can learn how society, writing, and politics intersect. Some of our virtual exhibit include the Paul Murray: Survival with Dignity and Hisaye Yamamoto: An American Story.



(Video courtesy of The American Writers Museum)



5. How has the museum addressed censorship and banned books?

We partnered with the Library of Congress to teach and provide access to primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Our museum blog, podcast, and education initiatives define what is a banned book and give access to the work.



(Image Courtesy of Media from Wix)




Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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