Top 5 Reasons to Visit the American Writers Museum in December

We have plenty of events and exhibits that are some of the top things to do in Chicago this month. Celebrate American writing with us!

With the holiday season in full swing now is a great time to stop by the American Writers Museum (or join us online) for some rest and relaxation. Take a break and celebrate American writing with us! As a reminder, AWM members get free admission to programs and if you join or renew your membership before December 31, 2022 we’ll add three extra months on for free. So if you’re not already a member, become a member today!

1. What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern (December 6, 6:00 pm CST)

What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern by Jed Rasula book cover

On the 100th anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s modernist masterpiece, The Waste Land, author and professor Jed Rasula examines the poem’s creation, explosive impact, and enduring influence in his new book What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern. When T. S. Eliot published The Waste Land in 1922, it put the thirty-four-year-old author on a path to worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize. “But,” as Jed Rasula writes, “The Waste Land is not only a poem: it names an event, like a tornado or an earthquake. Its publication was a watershed, marking a before and after. It was a poem that unequivocally declared that the ancient art of poetry had become modern.” In What the Thunder Said, Rasula tells the story of how The Waste Land changed poetry forever and how this cultural bombshell served as a harbinger of modernist revolution in all the arts, from abstraction in visual art to atonality in music. Rasula is joined in conversation by Reginald Gibbons, a poet and a Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University. Register for the virtual program here.

2. Find Gifts for Readers and Writers

Dark Testament Maya Angelou t shirt

Give the gift of American writing this holiday season! Whether you’re looking for a gift for an aspiring writer, an avid reader, or just want to treat yourself, the American Writers Museum gift shop is the place to be. We have new merchandise inspired by our special exhibit Dark Testament, coffee mugs, writing-themed jewelry, book cover t-shirts, and so much more. You’ll be the hit of the holiday season with the book worms and word nerds in your life! Some of these items are available only in-store, though most are also online. When shopping online use code Holiday10 for 10% off your entire order, valid through December 15. Shop online here. Our gift shop is open during normal operating hours (Thurs-Mon, 10am-5pm). You do not need to purchase an admission ticket in order to shop in our store.

3. Edgar Allan Poe Tours

Edgar Allan Poe tours graphic

Due to popular demand, our Edgar Allan Poe-themed tours will be offered through the end of the year! Offered daily at 3 pm Central when the AWM is open, these 15-minute tours take you through all areas of the Museum with a focus on Edgar Allan Poe’s work, his influences, and his enduring impact on American writing. You’ll be introduced to all of our exhibits, then have time to explore them more in depth following the tour. These tours are included with Museum admission and no advanced registration is required. Additionally, we are typically closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but we will be open Tuesday, December 27 and Wednesday, December 28. These tours will also be offered those days. Learn more about the tours here.

4. Fun for the Whole Family

A family poses in front of the Untitled tree mural in the American Writers Museum's Children's Literature Gallery

If you are finding time this month to spend with family, then take them all to the American Writers Museum! Our interactive exhibits engage the senses (even smell!) and are fun for all ages. For the young readers—and those young at heart—start in the Negaunee Foundation Children’s Literature Gallery. With interactive elements honoring Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are, and more classics, your family’s imagination will run rampant here. We also have plenty of books and comfortable seats for you to read to the little ones who can’t yet read on their own. Continue your journey through our other exhibits which have more ways to engage, but be sure to stop by the Story of the Day desk to use our vintage typewriters. These classic machines are fun for both young and old. Typewriters may seem like ancient relics to young people, but might just bring back fond memories for the veteran typists! Plan your visit to the AWM here.

5. Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice

Dark Testament photo collage and list of themes: Belonging, Joy, Violence, Justice

If you haven’t already, stop by the AWM this month to explore Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, our latest and most extensive exhibit. Get a better understanding of racial injustice in America by examining the work of Black American writers from the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement. See how the work of writers like Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and many more led to important changes. At the same time, contemporary writers like Imani Perry, Elizabeth Nunez, Jabari Asim, and more illustrate how they continue to fight the same battles their predecessors did. Featuring original artwork, augmented reality and other interactive elements that enliven and enrich the experience, Dark Testament brings the work of writers past and present to life in new and exciting ways. All exhibits are included with Museum admission, so plan your visit to the American Writers Museum today!

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