The By the Book author talk series brings big ideas and smart conversation directly to you. 

Join these book events via Zoom from the comfort of your favorite chair and engage with authors and experts 

on a variety of topics. Keep checking back for announcements of future events. 

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October 13 / 6:00 PM CT

Hall Bjørnstad will be joined in conversation by Larry F. Norman and Ellen McClure to discuss The Dream of Absolutism: Louis XIV and the Logic of Modernity.

What was absolutism, and how did it work? What was the function of the ostentatious display surrounding Louis XIV at Versailles? In this sweeping reconsideration of absolutist culture, Hall Bjørnstad argues that the exuberance of Louis XIV’s reign was not top-down propaganda in any modern sense, but rather a dream dreamt collectively, by king, court, image-makers, and nation alike. Through a sustained close analysis of a corpus of absolutist artifacts, Bjørnstad concludes that the dream of absolutism lives at the intersection of politics and aesthetics—a participatory emotional reality that requires reality to conform to it and that still shapes our collective political imaginary today.

Hall Bjørnstad is associate professor of French at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he also directs the Renaissance Studies Program. He is the author of a monograph on Blaise Pascal, coeditor of Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel and Universal History and the Making of the Global, and the editor of Borrowed Feathers: Plagiarism and the Limits of Imitation in Early Modern Europe.

Larry F. Norman is the Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France, published by the University of Chicago Press.

Ellen McClure  is Professor of French and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where for the last three years she has also directed the Mellon-funded Engaged Humanities Initiative. She is the author of The Logic of Idolatry in Seventeenth-Century French Literature and Sunspots and the Sun King: Sovereignty and Mediation in Seventeenth-Century France.


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November 10 / 2:00 PM CT

Join us to celebrate the launch of  Django Generations: Hearing Ethnorace, Citizenship, and Jazz Manouche in France by Siv B. Lie. Lie will be joined in conversation with Ingrid Monson and Carol Silverman.

“A necessary addition for ethnomusicologists and scholars of Romani music, Django Generations is aptly named because it gives voice to groups of Romani musicians who are forging contemporary identities in modern contexts while acknowledging past histories and cultural roots.” Adriana Helbig, University of Pittsburgh

Siv B. Lie (“seev bee lee”; she/her) is assistant professor of music at the University of Maryland. Her research in ethnomusicology and linguistic anthropology explores relationships between cultural production, race, and politics. She has published in Ethnomusicology, The Journal of the American Musicological Society, Popular Music and Society, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Jazz and Culture, and French Cultural Studies. She is co-founder and Principal Coordinator of the Initiative for Romani Music at New York University and a curator of the Music section of RomArchive. She is also a violinist, violist, and vocalist. Learn more about her work at

Ingrid Monson is Quincy Jones Professor of African American music at Harvard University and currently chairs the Music Department. She is the author of Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa (2007), Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction (1996) and an edited volume entitled the African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective (2000). Her essays have appeared in Critical Inquiry, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Daedalus, Black Music Research Journal, and many edited volumes. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently writing on Malian balafonist Neba Solo.

Carol Silverman has been involved with Balkan music and culture for over forty years as a researcher, teacher, performer, and activist. An award-winning Professor Emerita of cultural anthropology and folklore at the University of Oregon, she focuses on Balkan music, festivals, cultural policy, and human rights issues among Roma. Based on fieldwork in Bulgaria, Macedonia, New York, and Western Europe, her research analyzes the relationship among music, politics, ritual and gender. Her 2012 book Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora (Oxford), won the book prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology, and her 2021 book Balkanology (Bloomsbury) traces the politics and artistry of Bulgarian wedding music. Her numerous articles analyze the globalization of “Gypsy” music, specifically its performance, consumption and production in relation to issues of representation and appropriation. She works with the US NGO Voice of Roma, is curator for Balkan music for international digital RomArchive, and is a professional vocalist and teacher of Balkan music. .



To find out more about previous events in the series, visit our YouTube channel,
where you can watch earlier By the Book talks and other author videos.