In Conversation with Annette Gordon-Reed & Viet Thanh Nguyen

Hosted by Phi Beta Kappa
Phi Beta Kappa key (University of Connecticut)

We invite you to join us for a conversation moderated by Director Kevin Young of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard. Gordon-Reed won sixteen book prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 and the National Book Award in 2008, for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2008). In addition to articles and reviews, her other works include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (UVA Press, 1997), Vernon Can Read! A Memoir, a collaboration with Vernon Jordan (PublicAffairs, 2001), Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History (Oxford University Press, 2002), a volume of essays that she edited, Andrew Johnson (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2010) and, with Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing, 2016). Her most recent book is a memoir/history of Texas, On Juneteenth (Liveright Publishing, 2021).

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and numerous other awards. His most recent publication is the sequel to The Sympathizer, The Committed. His other books are a short story collection, The Refugees; Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction); and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He has also published Chicken of the Sea, a children’s book written in collaboration with his six-year-old son, Ellison. He is a University Professor, the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, he is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and the editor of The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.

Kevin Young is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. With a stellar career leading academic and arts institutions, he recently joined the Smithsonian from his previous role as Director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Young is also the poetry editor of the New Yorker, and an award-winning author of thirteen works of poetry and prose and the editor of nine volumes, most recently the anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, released in fall 2020 and immediately appearing on the year’s best book lists for the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, TIME, the Atlantic, and more.

The Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities will be presented to Professor Annette Gordon-Reed. The Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities is given to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of the humanities. The award includes a cash prize and a medal named for Mr. and Mrs. William B. Jaffe, whose gift of $25,000 enabled the Society to create the award in 1970. For more information please visit

Viet Thanh Nguyen will be receiving the Sidney Hook Memorial Award. The Sidney Hook Memorial Award recognizes national distinction by a single scholar in each of three endeavors — scholarship, undergraduate teaching, and leadership in the cause of liberal arts education. The award was established in 1991 in memory of the distinguished American philosopher and Phi Beta Kappa member, Sidney Hook (1902-1989). For more information on the awards, please visit

These awards are presented every three years at the Triennial Council.

Contact [email protected] for more information on this event.

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The free digital event will be held on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 from 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM EDT. Register here.