The Trouble Begins in Hartford: Genus Americanus, Hitting the Road in Search of America’s Identity

Monday, March 22 – 5:30-6:30pm – FREE

For the first Trouble Begins at 5:30 lecture of the spring 2021 season, The Mark Twain House & Museum is thrilled host Loren Ghiglione, Alyssa Karas, and Dan Tham as they talk about their book Genus Americanus: Hitting the Road in Search of America’s Identity and their journey to follow in Mark Twain’s footsteps across the United States.

A seventy-year-old Northwestern journalism professor, Loren Ghiglione, and two twenty-something Northwestern journalism students, Alyssa Karas and Dan Tham, climbed into a minivan and embarked on a three-month, twenty-eight state, 14,063-mile road trip in search of America’s identity.

On their journey they retraced Mark Twain’s travels across America—from Hannibal, Missouri, to Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle. They hoped Twain’s insights into the late nineteenth-century soul of America would help them understand the America of today and the ways that our cultural fabric has shifted. Their interviews focused on issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status.


LOREN GHIGLIONE is a veteran of a half century in journalism and journalism education and professor emeritus of journalism at Northwestern University. He owned and edited the Southbridge Evening News and ran its parent company, Worcester County Newspapers, for twenty-six years. He also served as a four-time Pulitzer Prize juror, guest curator of a 1990 Library of Congress exhibit and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The author or editor of nine books, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

ALYSSA KARAS has served as digital producer for Glamour and as senior digital producer and special projects editor for Vanity Fair.

DAN THAM has served as production assistant, associate producer, and producer at CNN.

The Trouble at Home and Trouble Begins series are made possible with the support of Connecticut Humanities. Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, supports cultural and historic organizations that tell the state’s stories, build community and enrich lives.

The Trouble Begins lecture series is presented in part with support from The Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, Elmira, New York.