The American Studies Department is hosting a panel discussion on “American Studies Takes On the World: American Studies Alumni in the Media” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 5 in Downey 113. American Studies Department majors Claire Weinraub ’93, Laura Clawson ’98 and Grace Ross ’12 will discuss ways they are putting American studies into action, thinking about what they are involved in, and what they can do about it. A Q&A and reception will follow the discussion.
ABC’s Emmy-winning producer and documentary creator Claire Weinraub ’93 has worked closely with Diane Sawyer on the “Hidden America” series. In February 2015 Weinraub produced a special about women in prison (viewed by more than 4.8 million people on YouTube). She also was one of the producers of “Bruce Jenner—The Interview” (seen by more than 20 million). Weinraub won the prestigious Peabody award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism prize for producing the Diane Sawyer special “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains,” an hour-long documentary profiling the lives of families living in poverty in Central Appalachia. She won the Emmy for “Waiting on the World to Change,” another Sawyer special following the lives of three children in Camden, New Jersey, one of America’s poorest and most dangerous cities. Her 1999 coverage of the Matthew Shepard murder “Night of Terror” was nominated for the Emmy and won the GLAAD media award. Weinraub not only puts the critical spotlight on America’s social contradictions, she profiles Americans who are working on solutions to some of these contradictions. Thus in 2014, Weinraub and her Nightline colleagues ran a series of pieces on a determined Philadelphia principal who was trying to change one of America’s most dangerous schools. During the panel, Weinraub will show a clip from one of her documentaries.
After receiving her PhD in sociology from Princeton, Laura Clawson ’98 continued as a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth from 2006-08. While at Dartmouth she began a blog that exposed political corruption in a New Hampshire congressional race. This led to her involvement with the progressive weblog the Daily Kos: News, Community, Action where she is now labor editor as well as contributing editor. Every week one can read Clawson’s analyses of labor and politics. On Halloween, for instance, email subscribers received a compilation of Daily Kos Classics that included Clawson’s piece, “America Doesn’t Just Have One Deficit, and Bernie Sanders Wants to Address Seven of Them.”
In an era when so much attention is focused on visual media, Grace Ross ’12, after a stint at Oxford University Press, is at the start of her career as a literary agent in New York. Valuing the importance of literature, she is helping literature (increasingly in electronic as well as print forms) compete for cultural and critical attention in the media marketplace. As agent, Ross is not only an integral part in protecting author’s rights but also in ensuring that new voices are published, especially in fiction. “Although the digital market has been rapidly growing, there’s been a return to the print form for books in recent years,” Ross said. “The real question is not whether print will disappear but what new revenue streams and markets will open up for authors. And I want to make sure authors are compensated accordingly.” At the agency, Ross and her colleagues help clients who write short fiction and journalism get published in literary magazines, newspapers and online journals.
The talk is free of charge and open to the public.