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Trouble Begins at 5:30: Genus Americanus

March 22 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Virtual – Crowdcast

TROUBLE BEGINS, Monday, March 22nd, 2021, 5:30 p.m: Genus Americanus: Hitting the Road in Search of America’s Identity by Loren Ghiglione with Alyssa Karas and Dan Tham

For the first Trouble Begins lecture of the spring 2021 season, The Mark Twain House & Museum is thrilled host Lorne Ghiglione, Alyssa Karas, and Dan Tham as they talk about their new book and their journey to follow in Mark Twain’s footsteps across the United States.

This is a FREE event hosted virtually on Crowdcast. Donations encouraged. Visit for more information and event registration.


What unites and what divides us? What is the essence of American identity?

“Loren Ghiglione’s passion for journalism and education informs every page of Genus Americanus, as he and his two students crisscross the country, giving voice to our collective psyche on matters of race, class, and other critical issues.”
—Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times

A seventy-year-old Northwestern journalism professor, Loren Ghiglione, and two twenty-something Northwestern journalism students, Alyssa Karas and Dan Tham, climbed into a minivan and embarked on a three-month, twenty-eight state, 14,063-mile road trip in search of America’s identity. After interviewing one hundred and fifty Americans about contemporary identity issues, they wrote this book, which is part oral history, part shoe-leather reporting, part search for America’s future, part memoir, and part travel journal.

On their journey they retraced Mark Twain’s travels across America—from Hannibal, Missouri, to Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle. They hoped Twain’s insights into the late nineteenth-century soul of America would help them understand the America of today and the ways that our cultural fabric has shifted.

Their interviews focused on issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status. The timely trip occurred as the United States was poised to replace president Barack Obama, an icon of multiculturalism and inclusion, with Donald Trump, whose white-identity agenda promoted exclusion and division. What they learned along the way paints an engaging portrait of the country during this crucial moment of ideological and political upheaval.

LOREN GHIGLIONE is a veteran of a half century in journalism and journalism education and professor emeritus of journalism at Northwestern University. He owned and edited the Southbridge Evening News and ran its parent company, Worcester County Newspapers, for twenty-six years. He also served as a four-time Pulitzer Prize juror, guest curator of a 1990 Library of Congress exhibit and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The author or editor of nine books, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

ALYSSA KARAS has served as digital producer for Glamour and as senior digital producer and special projects editor for Vanity Fair.

DAN THAM has served as production assistant, associate producer, and producer at CNN.

The Trouble at Home and Trouble Begins series are made possible with the support of Connecticut Humanities. Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, supports cultural and historic organizations that tell the state’s stories, build community and enrich lives.

The Trouble Begins lecture series is presented in part with support from The Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, Elmira, New York.

For more information about the program, call 860-247-0998 or visit


March 22
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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