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!
Spooky Season is officially upon us, but don’t be scared to visit the American Writers Museum in October for a number of exciting events and author programs! From talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and award-winning screenwriters to specially-themed guided tours and family storytimes, there’s something for everyone. So plan your visit today!
Check out what we have lined up in October and subscribe to our e-newsletter below to stay up-to-date on all that’s happening. Also, AWM members get free admission to the AWM and most programs, so if you’re not already a member, become a member today!
1. Patty Lin: End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood (October 5, 6:00 pm CT)
What if achieving your professional dreams comes at too high a personal cost? That’s what screenwriter Patty Lin started to ask herself after years in the cutthroat TV industry. One minute she was a tourist, begging her way into the audience of Late Night with David Letterman. Just a few years later, she was an insider who—through relentless hard work and sacrifice—had earned a seat in the writers’ rooms of the hottest TV shows of all time. While writing for Friends, Freaks and Geeks, Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad, Patty steeled herself against the indignities of a chaotic, abusive, male-dominated work culture, not just as one of the few women in the room, but as the only Asian person.
Lin discusses her new memoir, which Judd Apatow calls “hilarious and brutally honest,” live at the American Writers Museum, followed by a book signing. She is joined in conversation by writer, podcaster, and publisher Zibby Owens. Books will be available for purchase at the event. Get your tickets here. This program will also be livestreamed, and you can register for the viewing link here.
2. Get Lit: Cinema of Screams (October 10, 5:30 pm CT)
Step into the thrilling world of horror and slasher films for a night of spine-chilling fun at our next happy hour event, Get Lit: Cinema of Screams. In addition to full access to our exhibits and two complimentary beverages, with your ticket to this Get Lit event you can attempt the “Can You Survive a Horror Movie?” Challenge by solving puzzles throughout the AWM, flex your knowledge at Horror Movie Trivia, enter the costume contest, create your own DIY Halloween mask, chat with our friends from the Horror and SciFi Prop Preservation Association and Bucket O’Blood Books & Records about their haunting collections, and more! Plus, in addition to beer and wine, enjoy the evening’s signature cocktail: The Tequila Nightmare, a blood-red tequila-based cocktail. Non-alcoholic beverages are also available. Prepare for a night of suspense, thrills, and eerie excitement at this after-hours museum party…if you dare! Get your tickets here.
Get Lit events take place the second Tuesday of every month from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Each month will have a different theme, so check out upcoming Get Lit events here and be sure to check back regularly as we announce more Get Lit events throughout the year.
3. Sterling L. Bland, Jr: In the Shadow of Invisibility: Ralph Ellison and the Promise of American Democracy (October 15, 1:00 pm CT)
With In the Shadow of Invisibility, Sterling Lecater Bland Jr. offers a long-overdue reconsideration of Ralph Ellison, examining the trajectory of his intellectual thought in relation to its resonances in twenty-first-century American culture. Bland charts Ellison’s evolving attitudes on several central topics including democracy, race, identity, social community, place, and political expression. This compelling new exploration of Ralph Ellison’s legacy stresses the perpetual need to reexamine the intersections of race, literature, and American culture, with particular attention to how the democratic principle has grown increasingly urgent in the nation’s ongoing, and often contentious, conversations about race. Interweaving biography, history, and literary criticism, and drawing from extensive archival research, In the Shadow of Invisibility reveals the extent to which Ellison’s work exposes the contradictions inherent in American culture, arguing anew for the importance and immediacy of his writings in the broader context of American intellectual thought.
This program is presented in conjunction with our special exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice. Books will be available for purchase at the event. Get your tickets here. This program will also be livestreamed, and you can register for the viewing link here.
4. Prince Party! (October 17, 6:00 pm CT)
Live music. Readings. Dancing. It’s time to put on your finest and flashiest outfits and head to the American Writers Museum for a celebration of all things Prince! Enjoy live music performed by Gabriel Sanchez, lead singer of the Prince tribute band The Prince Experience. Then, author Peter Coviello reads from his new book Is There God After Prince?: Dispatches from an Age of Last Things, a collection of essays considering what it means to love art, culture, and people in an age of accelerating disaster. Enjoy the sounds and styles of Prince that you know and love from Gabriel Sanchez and The Prince Experience, followed by new insights and appreciations of Prince’s global impact from Peter Coviello. It will be a night you won’t soon forget! Sequins, platform heels, and purple are not required but are strongly encouraged.
5. Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Man of Two Faces (October 23, 6:00 pm CT)
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer comes a highly original, blistering, and unconventional memoir. Viet Thanh Nguyen reads from and discusses his new memoir A Man of Two Faces, in which he rewinds the film of his own life with insight, humor, formal invention, and lyricism. Nguyen expands the genre of personal memoir in A Man of Two Faces by acknowledging larger stories of refugeehood, colonization, and ideas about Vietnam and America, writing with his trademark sardonic wit and incisive analysis, as well as a deep emotional openness about his life as a father and a son. Profound in its emotions and brilliant in its thinking about cultural power, A Man of Two Faces explores the necessity of both forgetting and of memory, the promises America so readily makes and breaks, and the exceptional life story of one of the most original and important writers working today.
Nguyen discusses his new memoir, which Cathy Park Hong says is an “essential book” that “every American needs to read,” live at the American Writers Museum, followed by a book signing. He is joined in conversation by fellow writer Vu Tran. Books will be available for purchase at the event. Get your tickets here. This program will also be livestreamed, and you can register for the viewing link here.
6. Halloween Weekend
It’s all treats and no tricks this Halloween Weekend at the AWM! We have three special programs and activities for you to enjoy over the spookiest time of the year. First, on October 28 at 4:00 pm CT, Irish-Japanese-Canadian author Clara Kumagai visits the American Writers Museum for a reading from her debut young adult novel Catfish Rolling, followed by a discussion around themes of coming of age, identity, myth, legend and folklore. Presented in partnership with the General Consulate of Ireland-Chicago, you can learn more about the program and register to attend here. Then, on October 29 at 10:30 am CT, bring the whole family to the AWM for a special Halloween edition of Little Squirrels Storytime. Our Storytellers will read their favorite Halloween stories and poems, followed by a family arts, crafts, and games. Learn more here. And finally, all weekend long (October 26-30), experience the AWM like never before by embarking on the Pumpkin Hunt! Search the AWM for all of the hidden pumpkins and find them all to win a special prize. Learn more about the Pumpkin Hunt here.
7. Guided Tours
We have two specially-themed guided tours available during October, both free with admission. The first, ongoing now through October 16, celebrates the incredible writing and achievements of Hispanic writers during Hispanic Heritage Month. The voices of Hispanic writers have always been a part of the American literary landscape, from the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City to the first Latino to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Immerse yourself in the rich history, captivating stories, and profound contributions of Hispanic writers, poets, and authors who have shaped American writing. Tours offered daily at 2:00 pm CT when the AWM is open. Spanish-language tours will be offered Saturdays at 3:30 pm. Learn more here.
Then, beginning October 5 and running through November 6, learn more about the Master of Macabre on Nevermore: The Poe Tour. Dive into the work of Edgar Allan Poe, from talking ravens to thumping tell-tale hearts, and discover the man behind the myths. You’ll learn how Poe’s work changed the landscape of American writing and how his legacy continues to impact the world of literature and beyond today. Learn more here.
BONUS: Patti Hartigan: August Wilson: A Life (October 30, 6:00 pm CT)
Author and theater critic Patti Hartigan, who knew August Wilson personally, discusses her new book August Wilson: A Life, the first authoritative biography of Wilson, the most important and successful American playwright of the late 20th century. Known for award-winning plays like Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, and more, Wilson wrote a series of ten plays celebrating African American life in the 20th century, one play for each decade. In August Wilson: A Life, Hartigan tells the story of a writer who left an indelible imprint on American theater and opened the door for future playwrights of color. This program is presented in conjunction with our special exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice.
Hartigan will be joined in conversation by actor and playwright J. Nicole Brooks. Originally slated for August, this program has been rescheduled as an online-only event. Register for the viewing link here.