John Steinbeck’s America: ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’

Bard College

Joseph Luzzi (PhD, Yale) is the Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, and he taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in The New York Times, TLS, The London Times, the Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, and on National Public Radio. Dr. Luzzi’s awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. He is the author of five books and recently created The Virtual Book Club: an international community of readers dedicated to exploring major literary works past and present.



In the eyes of many, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a candidate for the “Great American Novel,” as it tells the unforgettable story of the Joad family and their journey from the Dust Bowl of their native Oklahoma to California in a desperate quest to find work and survive the challenges of the Great Depression. Similarly, his brief masterpiece Of Mice and Men remains a haunting tale of friendship and economic struggle that continues to enchant readers worldwide. This presentation will lead participants on a deep exploration of these two novels and consider what makes John Steinbeck’s vision of “America” come to life by transforming the notion of our national identity into remarkable narratives.




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Hans Bleiker

We enjoyed every minute of this lecture. We are always looking forward to any of Professor Luzzi’s presentations.
The migrant/immigrant story resonates with us having come from Europe in the late 1950s. Now living in Steinbeck country made the talk especially meaningful.

11 months ago
Joy Morros

His over use of “right” is very distracting .

11 months ago

Steinbeck Re-do

Professor Luzzi’s presentation was very engaging. His enthusiasm and literary knowledge have inspired me to re-read and re-do my thinking about this author. I did not appreciate reading Steinbeck as a child because it was so depressing and irrelevant. However, with Professor Luzzi’s help, I see what an important role this author has made in history and his relevance in the world today.

10 months ago
Andrew Harris

Such fun to listen to professor kLuzzi

5 months ago
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