Explore the American Idea at Temple University Libraries

Bicycles affixed to back of custom painted bus with red white and blue shield In God We trust with Happy 200 American painted on.

This academic year, the Beyond the Page programming series will examine the culture, ideals, stories, myths and realities that have built America. We will discuss the American idea from a diverse variety of perspectives, disciplines and points-of-view.

Programs will cover topics ranging from politics to museums, from race to sports, from architecture to immigration, from food to housing and more. We will explore American music, American authors, American artists, and the American city through a dynamic series of talks, discussions, programs, and events.

Please join us throughout the year to analyze, interpret and reinterpret American ideas through the eyes of scholars, curators, authors, cultural producers, and you.


The American Idea on Sports and Race: A Conversation with Larry Lester and Rebecca Alpert

October 2, 3:30 PM

Baseball—the great American pastime—also serves as a lens through which to explore and examine broader American ideas on race, heroes and popular culture. Larry Lester, a co-founder of the Negro Leagues  Baseball Museum, and Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, associate professor  of religion at Temple  University and author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball (Oxford University Press, 2011) discuss the history of race and baseball at Paley Library.


The American Gallerist: Sande Webster on 40 Years with Art and Artists

October 5, 3PM

Sande Webster has enacted her philosophy of diversity at the Sande Webster Gallery, formerly Wallnuts, Inc. She was one of the first in Philadelphia to display photography, glass, clay and textiles in a fine art environment. She has also long been an advocate of African American artists. A true trailblazer, Sande joins us to share her ideas on art.


Noir: An American Genre

October 8, NOON

Explore the work of Philadelphia’s own David Goodis, one of the masters of noir, along with other noir stories and films, with Lou Boxer, founder of Philadelphia’s NoirCon; Chris Cagle, assistant professor of film and media arts at Temple; and Robert Polito, director of writing programs and professor of writing at the New School, and editor of David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America, 2012).


The American Idea on Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Approach with MIT’s Skylar Tibbits

October 9, 12:30 PM

Discuss architecture today with Skylar Tibbits is an American architect, innovator, designer and computer scientist. He is a lecturer in MITs Department of Architecture, was recently awarded a TED2012 Senior Fellowship, and founder of SJET LLC, a platform for experimental computation and design.


Film Screening and Director’s Talk: Mothers of No Tomorrow

October 17, 3PM

Prompted by the loss of friends to violent crimes, Sixx King, a 35-year-old writer, producer, director, actor and activist, thought about what his mother would have to go through if something happened to him. Please join the Libraries and Blockson Collection for this moving documentary, followed by a discussion with King.


The American Idea on Elections and Electoral Politics: A Conversation with Keya Dannenbaum and Hal Gullan, hosted by Robin Kolodny

October 23, 2PM

In a world of sound bites, electoral fights and bipartisan snipes, how can we best participate in a democracy and vote on the issues that are important to us? Panelists Keya Dannenbaum, founder of Electnext.com, and Hal Gullan, veteran political writer and historian, will discuss those questions and more. Robin Kolodny, associate professor of political science at Temple, will host the program.


Open Access Week Program!

The Connection between Open Access and Open Educational Resources: Exploring New Publishing Models

October 24, 3:30 PM

Learn about the open access of scholarly and educational resources as Temple University Libraries join in the global celebration of Open Access Week. At Paley Library, we’ll discuss the potential benefits of open access, share what we’ve learned with colleagues, and help to make open access a new norm in scholarship and research. Our conversation will be lead Nicole Allen and Nick Shockey, two nationally recognized experts on topics of open access.


Chat in the Stacks: Race in the Race

November 1, 2:30 PM

The Libraries and the Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Faculty of Color continue to host an engaging series of panels on timely topics with faculty from across the university. Join us November 1 for a look at “Race in the Race.” Join us for this conversation about the racial politics in our national politics during this election year.


The American Idea of Public Design: The Street as Place

November 8, 3:30 PM

Design plays a crucial role in our society, affecting everything from how our cities are planned to where our roadways are built. Join the Libraries and DesignPhiladelphia’s Hilary Jay for a panel discussion with Diana Lind, Chief Executive Officer and Editor in Chief of Next American City, Inga Saffron from the Inquirer, and Bryan Hanes, landscape architect and urban designer, on the past, present and future of American design.


Examining American History: A Panel Discussion on By Any Means Necessary–Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented

November 15, 3:00 PM, at the Blockson Collection, 1310 Polett Walk

Scholars and authors Molefi Asante, Rhone Fraser, Regina Jennings and Clyde Ledbedder as they discuss their contributions to By Any Means Necessary – Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented (Third World Press, 2012),


The American Idea of Museums: A Conversation with Steven Conn, Blake Bradford and Susan Glassman

November 29, 4PM

Steven Conn, professor at The Ohio State University and author of Do Museums Still Need Objects?; Susan Glassman, Executive Director of the Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia; and Blake Bradford, the Barnes Foundation’s Bernard C. Watson Director of Education discuss how democratic ideals that shaped the founding of American museums have both lived on and changed. The program will be hosted by Kenneth Finkel, a distinguished lecturer of American Studies at Temple University.



AT PALEY LIBRARY THROUGH JANUARY: Philadelphia Noir in Fact and Fiction
Take a trip through Philadelphia noir this fall. Learn about Philadelphia’s most well known purveyors of noir, David Goodis and John T. McIntyre, who crafted noir novels, pulp serials and Hollywood scripts. Read about the true crime that inspired the play and movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. See the news of famed Philadelphia club owner and
show girl Lillian Reis — “they called her Tiger Lil” — and mobster Ralph “Junior” Staino’s infamous heist. Through the writings of Goodis and McIntyre and related historical
material from the Special Collections Research Center, “Philadelphia Noir in Fact and Fiction” brings to life these sordid tales of fear, corruption, treachery and murder.

AT THE BLOCKSON COLLECTION: Black Power Movement: Philadelphia and Beyond

Learn about the meaning and significance of the Black Power movement, which grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Stokely Carmichael, a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, devised the movement’s name in June 1966. Its concept of self-determination, self-respect and self-defense for Black people during a turbulent time in American history galvanized a new generation of leadership. This exhibition explores Black Philadelphians’ involvement in this international movement that emphasized the importance of Black pride, history and culture, and traces the importance and development of it through rare items housed in the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.

Please note: This exhibition takes place at the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection on the first floor of Sullivan Hall, located just west of Paley Library at 1330
Polett Walk.