top of page


Knowledge awaits! 
Register for tickets today

Popular v. Critical Success

This is a 10-week virtual class using the Zoom platform. National Book Award winners and public reception.

White and Green Christmas Greeting Facebook Cover.png

Time & Location





About this class

Popular v. Critical Success Why do certain novels win highly esteemed awards for fiction, and what do their selection tell us about our reading habits? Through an exploration of six National Book Award fiction winners, over a 50-year period, we’ll examine why these novels may have won the award and how they reflect a kind of American sensibility at the times of their release. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll delve into what constitutes critical as opposed to popular success in the fiction market.

National Book Award Winners from 1970-2020:

1970--them by Joyce Carol Oates

1980--Sophie's Choice by William Styron

1990--Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

2000--In America by Susan Sontag

2010--Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

2020--Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

This is a 10-week virtual class using the Zoom platform.  Wednesdays: Jan 26, Feb 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 - 2-4 pm CST

Rebecca Chalmers. Rebecca has spent her adult life on the study of literature. A Ph.D. in English (with concentrations in American literature, film studies, and critical theory) led her to a rich and rewarding academic career, the last thirteen years of which were spent with the English program at the University of Mary in Bismarck, and in regular work with the North Dakota Humanities Council. Currently she resides on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she works as an independent scholar, with occasional university classes, and in freelance editing and writing, all while she continues to pen her own poetry and short stories.

HND Value Statement

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota.

However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally.

Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University.

To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

bottom of page