Special Initiatives

Nevada Humanities offers a variety of initiatives that offer new paths for the people of Nevada to experience, think about, and explore the humanities. Each year Nevada Humanities develops special, often one-off, programs and partnerships. These special initiatives include programming that may not be offered every year but that remains an important part of the work we do.


Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Program

The Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Program was established in 2001 to inspire new generations of writers in honor of Nevada writer Robert Laxalt, who developed from news reporter to fiction and nonfiction author during his prolific career. Considered by many to be Nevada’s finest writer, Laxalt founded the University of Nevada Press and wrote 17 books, four of which were entered for the Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote for National Geographic and served as a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Reynolds School of Journalism for 18 years, teaching magazine writing and literary journalism. Since 2010, Nevada Humanities has joined the Reynolds School of Journalism as a partner in producing this program, which takes place in Reno each Fall.

2019 Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer: Jessica Bruder

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Enjoy two events with Jessica Bruder, the 2019 Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer. She will read from her work, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century; books will be available for purchase and signing. Both events are free and open to the public. 

The Housing Crisis in a Precarious Economy: A Panel Discussion with Jessica Bruder. Featuring Jessica Bruder, Nico Colombant, and Donald Griffin.
Monday, November 18, 2019, 12:00 - 1:00 pm
Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Avenue, Reno

Nico Colombant coordinates the Our Town Reno multimedia street reporting collective as part of his job as Lecturer of Digital Media at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Following a series of “in-their-own-words” audio postcards which aired on KUNR, and live journalism events funded by the Association of Independents in Radio in 2018, Our Town Reno started its own podcast this year, to give the microphone directly to those affected by rising rents, gentrification, and the higher cost of living, as well as street poets and those helping each other out in the Biggest Little City.

Donald Griffin lost his home and his children, but a housing-first model that helped him get into a safe living situation allowed him to get clean and begin rebuilding his life. Now a spoken word poet and community activist, Griffin volunteers with a number of organizations, including Vocational Opportunities for Inclusive Career Education (VOICE) and Acting in Community Together in Northern Nevada (ACTIONN), in order to change the narrative about people like himself and to help expand the opportunities that got him clean and off the streets.

A Conversation with Jessica Bruder
Moderated by Donica Mensing, University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School Associate Dean
Monday, November 18, 2019, 7:00 pm
Wells Fargo Auditorium, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, University of Nevada, Reno 

These events are presented in partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School of Journalism.

Jessica Bruder is a journalist who writes about subcultures and social issues. For her book Nomadland, she spent months living in a camper van, documenting itinerant Americans who gave up traditional housing and hit the road full time, enabling them to travel from job to job and carve out a place for themselves in a precarious economy. The project spanned three years and more than 15,000 miles of driving — from coast-to-coast and from Mexico to the Canadian border. Named a New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice, Nomadland won the 2017 Discover Award and was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize and the Helen Bernstein Book Award.

She is the author of Burning Book and is currently writing about trust in the age of surveillance.

Jessica has been teaching narrative storytelling at Columbia Journalism School and contributing to The New York Times for more than a decade. She has also written for New York Magazine, WIRED, Harper's Magazine, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times Magazine, and The Guardian. She lives in Brooklyn with a dog named Max and more plants than you can shake a leafy stick at.

Past Robert Laxalt distinguished writers include:

Timothy Eagan, 2018

Sally Denton, 2017

Richard Ford, 2016

Jess Walter, 2015

Sheri Fink, 2014

Jim Lynch, 2013

Mark Kurlansky, 2012

Rebecca Solnit, 2011

Stephen G. Bloom, 2010

Isabel Wilkerson, 2009

James D. Houston, 2008

Clay Jenkins

Lou Cannon, 2006

Alicia Parlette, 2005

Paige Williams, 2005

William Albert Allard, 2004


Shaken & Stirred
Two Arts and Humanities Mixers

Free and open to all

Reno: Wednesday, October 16
Optical Illusions and Illegal Dancing

Featuring Gideon Caplovitz & Louis Niebur
6:00-7:30 PM
Plaza Maya
1644 South Wells Avenue, Reno

Las Vegas: Wednesday, October 23
Uniform Work and Aesthetic Entanglement

Featuring Brittany Bronson & Gig Depio
6:30-8:00 PM
Nevada Humanities Program Gallery
1017 South First Street #190, Las Vegas

Join Nevada Humanities and the Nevada Arts Council for a special program celebrating National Arts & Humanities Month. Two entirely unrelated topics find common ground during a tag team lecture. Each speaker gets 10 minutes to teach us something new about unrelated topics. Audience members do the deep thinking to find commonalities between the two, and ask questions to join everything together. Ideas start to mix and anything can happen! Appetizers are on us. 

@NVHumanities @NevadaArts