WIT: The Authors Guild Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Series features authors and thought leaders in conversation addressing the most important topics of our time. Thank you to everyone who attended a WIT Series conversation this season! Recordings of past WIT Series conversations can be found below.

Save the date for our next WIT: Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts, the heart of the Berkshires, September 21-23, 2023! Click here to learn more.

Past WIT Series conversations

Gish Jen and Bethanne Patrick in conversation

"Like many writers, I am aware of how many stories remain buried for all time and fascinated by how other stories emerge," says Gish Jen in an interview for The New Yorker. “I have been interested in cultural differences in narrative-making for some time… Immigration doesn’t only give you new phrases and ways of framing things. It teaches you to narrate in a completely different way.” In her new book, Thank You, Mr. Nixon, Gish Jen takes measure of the fifty years since the opening of China and its unexpected effects on the lives of ordinary people. In this WIT Series conversation, Gish Jen discusses Opening China, Opening Lives with writer, author, and critic, Bethanne Patrick.

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell and Kendall Thomas in conversation

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell, author of Carving Out a Humanity: Race, Rights, and Redemption and Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement, and Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law and the Director of the Studio for Law and Culture at Columbia University, discuss the intersection of race and law in the United States and the role that the law has played in shaping our society.

Jia Tolentino and Ronan Farrow in conversation

Jia Tolentino's Trick Mirror is a compilation of essays on marriage, literary heroines, and the "cult of the difficult woman". Ronan Farrow is best known for his investigative reporting on the sexual abuse allegations of Harvey Weinstein and the toll it had on the women who accused him of that abuse. Together, Tolentino and Farrow have written about the conservatorship of Britney Spears and her fight to regain control of her life. In this WIT Series conversation, Tolentino and Farrow discuss what these articles and essays have in common: the ability of women to have control over their own lives.

W. Ralph Eubanks and Roxana Robinson in conversation

The Writing and Writers of the South

The American South has a rich literary heritage spanning decades and addressing the subjects of class, gender, and race. Dawson’s Fall, Roxana Robinson’s latest novel, is set in Charleston, South Carolina and explores the lives of her great-grandparents during the time of the Reconstruction. Ralph Eubanks’ latest book, A Place Like Mississippi, pays tribute to the literary heritage of his home state and features featuring writers such as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Jesmyn Ward. Our guests discuss the themes in their books and what they learned about the South, themselves, and history while they were researching them.

Jay McInerney and André Hueston Mack in conversation

On Wine: Writing, Selecting, and Serving

Jay McInerney is a novelist, screenwriter, editor, columnist, and wine connoisseur. He previously served as the wine columnist for House and Garden and The Wall Street Journal, and the wine critic for Town and CountryAndré Hueston Mack is a designer, writer, winemaker, and sommelier. After earning the title of Best Young Sommelier in America by the Chaine des Rotisseurs, Mack worked as sommelier at Thomas Keller's world-renowned French Laundry before being named Head Sommelier at Keller's equally famed Per Se. In 2007, he launched Maison Noir Wines.

James Shapiro and Ted Widmer in conversation

Shakespeare and Lincoln

James Shapiro, a leading Shakespeare scholar and author of Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, and historian Ted Widmer, author of Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington, discuss the influence that Shakespeare had on our 16th president.

An Evening with David Grann and Douglas Preston

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at The Explorers Club, the Authors Guild Foundation hosted National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestselling author David Grann in conversation with New York Times bestselling author and Authors Guild President, Douglas Preston. Mr. Grann, author of The Lost City of Z, and Mr. Preston, author of The Lost City of the Monkey God, discussed exploration, lost cities, and the horrors of doing journalism in the jungle.

Sam Sifton and Lynn Boulger in conversation

Sam Sifton, an assistant managing editor of The New York Times and founding editor of New York Times Cooking, and Lynn Boulger, Executive Director of the Authors Guild Foundation, discuss cooking, writing, and breaking with tradition.

Christina Baker Kline and Matthew Thomas in conversation

New York Times bestselling authors Christina Baker Kline and Matthew Thomas discuss managing time on and off the page.

David Baldacci and Laura Pedersen in conversation

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci and author and Authors Guild Foundation President Laura Pedersen discuss Mark Twain.

Scandal, Deception, and the Last Days of Robert Indiana

Bob Keyes has been a journalist for four decades. He is an award-winning, nationally recognized arts writer and storyteller with specialties in American visual arts and the contemporary culture of New England. Keyes has written about arts and culture for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram since 2002. In his new book, The Isolation Artist: Scandal, Deception, and the Last Days of Robert Indiana, Keyes tells a fast-paced and riveting story that provides a rare inside look into the life of an artist as well as the often, too often, unscrupulous world of high-end art. In this special conversation, Bob Keyes and the Authors Guild Foundation executive director, Lynn Boulger, discuss the bizarre true story of the artist’s final days, the aftermath, the deceptive world that surrounded him, and the inner workings of art as very big business.

Richard Thompson Ford and Vanessa Friedman in conversation

For the first event of 2021, we hosted an intimate conversation with Richard Thompson Ford, author of Dress Codes and Rights Gone Wrong, and Vanessa Friedman, Chief Fashion Editor of the New York Times, as they discussed the social perceptions and norms behind dress codes and their relation to the law and racial equity.

Peace, Love, and Social Justice: How Artists Shape the Cultural Dialogue

Jonathan Taplin has been tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band, a producer of major films, the creator of the Internet’s first Video-on-Demand service, and a cultural critic writing about technology. In his new book, The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life, Taplin “makes a convincing case for art’s power to deliver us from ‘passionless detachment’ and rekindle our humanism.” In this special conversation with Authors Guild Council member Jonathan Taplin and the Guild’s president, Douglas Preston discuss the role that artists played in the social justice movements of the ’60s and ’70s and how that relates to the role artists play in today’s society.