VIRTUAL: Barbara Ballinger Lecture: Michelle Kuo

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Join us for a virtual lecture and Q&A in this year's Barbara Ballinger Lecture with author Michelle Kuo. Her memoir, Reading with Patrick, discusses education, inequality, and incarceration, and asks, "What social transformation is necessary to change a life?"

About the author

Michelle Kuo is a writer, attorney, and professor. She is the author of Reading with Patrick, a memoir of mentoring and tutoring a former student in a rural Arkansas county jail. It was a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. As Pulitzer-Prize winning James Forman, Jr. and Arthur Evenchik write in The Atlantic, “Impassioned writing and hard-earned wisdom set the book apart … In all of the literature addressing education, race, poverty, and criminal justice, there has been nothing quite like Reading with Patrick.”

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Michelle has worked to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants, assist asylum seekers, and defend incarcerated people. She has taught in prisons in the United States, France, and Taiwan. Michelle is interested in literacy, racial and socioeconomic equality, and abolitionist approaches towards prison and detention. She has published in The New York Review of Books, the New York Times, Public Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point, and other outlets; recently, she and her husband Albert Wu started "A Broad and Ample Road," a weekly newsletter on culture and politics. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the American University of Paris, where she works closely with college students on issues of social justice. She also is a pro bono lawyer for the Stanford Three Strikes Project and helped found Dialogue and Transformation, a global coalition advancing dialogues on peace, justice, and prisons. 

As Michelle puts it in the New York Times, her book is an "intimate story about the failure of the education and criminal justice systems and the legacy of slavery; about how literature is for everyone, how books connect people, and the hope that with enough openness and generosity we can do the hard work of knowing each other and ourselves.

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Virtual Program

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