American Politics and Community Today: Reading & Discussion Series


United States

What does it mean to be an American in the 21st century? What does a model American do, and what responsibilities do Americans have to their communities and to each other? Have the answers to these questions changed over the history of the United States? The participants in this Reading & Discussion series will engage with these questions and others regarding politics and the current state of civic thought, feeling, and participation.

  This Reading & Discussion series will focus on the books - Talking to Strangers, Anxiety of Citizenship Since Brown vs. Board of Education by Danielle S. Allen, and The Book of Daniel a novel by E.L. Doctorow. Discussions about the books will be led by Jennifer Kabat at the Roxbury Arts Center, 5025 Vega Mountain Road, Roxbury NY on February 15, March 1, March 15, and March 29 from 6:00-7:30p on each date. Community members who would like to participate can borrow the books directly from the Roxbury Arts Group calling 607.326.7908 or sending an email to This event is free and open to the public. Visit for a series reading list.
     “Literature can create empathy by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” says discussion leader Jennifer Kabat. “That can be a profound experience. With this program we’re using books that specifically relate to citizenship now by thinking about civic values and actions in other eras. We live in a small community and the idea that we can be on the forefront of considering trust and considering what community and citizenship could be now is really exciting to me. As a writer, looking at the ways civic values manifest (in both good and bad ways) in everything from the NYC watershed to the forests around us has been really important to my work, and I am excited to read books with a group and talk about them and our ideas about participation and community and building that community to make it stronger.”    Leading the discussion series is Margaretville resident Jennifer Kabat. Kabat, a writer and essayist, is also a co-founder of the collaborative essay site, The Weeklings. She has been a guest critic at Yale, the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Common Wealth University in Qatar, and other institutions. Her writing has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, BOMB, Harper’s, The Believer, The White Review, Salon, The Guardian, and Granta, among others. She’s received multiple grants to support her writing including an Arts Writers Grant for her criticism and was recently artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in California. She serves on the advisory board for the poetry collective Ugly Duckling Presse, and teaches contemporary art and theory at New York University and design writing at the School of Visual Arts. Currently she is finishing a collection of essays GROWING UP MODERN exploring civic values from where she grew up outside Washington, DC to where she lives now in the Catskill Mountains.
    The Serving: Reading & Discussion series begins on February 15, but participants are encouraged to read the book in advance so they can fully participate in the conversations. For more information about the upcoming Reading & Discussion, please contact the Roxbury Arts Group at 607.326.7908 or
    This program is made possible by a grant from Humanities New York. All programs offered by the Roxbury Arts Group are supported by the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, Robert & Nellie Gipson, WIOX Community Radio, and the generosity of our business sponsors and individual donors like you.