Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

Scholar in Conversation: Catherine Jurca

What if Americans elected a dictator?

Scholar Catherine Jurca talks with our partner Mary Menzel of California Center for the Book about It Can’t Happen Here, a California Reads selected book. It Can’t Happen Here was written by Sinclair Lewis during the Great Depression and published in 1935 and tells the tale of how American voters are manipulated by a presidential candidate who rises to power during tough economic times and creates a fascist regime. This underappreciated classic by one of America’s greatest novelists, as relevant today as ever, imagines a chillingly undemocratic America and reminds us of the fragility of our democratic institutions.

Catherine Jurca teaches English at Cal Tech, yet her focus of study is film, 20th century American literature, and urban studies.

For 2012, the California Reads program was part of our Searching for Democracy initiative.

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