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(Hybrid) W. David Marx and B.J. Novak: Decoding Culture

Thu 5 October 2023 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30

How do trends become trends? What makes something popular? Inaugural speakers in our Evenings with an Author marquee series W. David Marx and B.J. Novak confront the mystery of culture.

In-person registration for this event is now closed. Please fill out the form below to register to attend online.

Evenings with an Author at the American Library in Paris is thrilled to announce our marquee series spotlighting exceptional thinkers of our age. Join inaugural speakers W. David Marx and B.J. Novak as they confront the mystery of culture. 

Since the dawn of human society, writers have argued about what culture is. Where does it come from, and who makes it? Is it dictated by behaviors, or does it determine them? 

We are delighted to host culture expert and author of Status and Culture and Ametora W. David Marx, in conversation with author and actor B.J. Novak, as they offer a fresh perspective on these questions. All social animals use hierarchy to relate to one another, yet humans have developed a particularly complex system for signaling their rank: appearance, possessions, and behaviors, both conscious and ingrained, from the price of your shoes to the way you hold your fork, reveal your position and background to those around you. Marx and Novak will explore how these everyday choices are informed by hidden economic, social, and educational influences, considering the different ways that demand and distinction emerge. Join them as they break down fashion, fads, fame, and the enduring mystery of taste, revealing to us why we behave the way we do, and how we learn to want what we want.

Learn more

Ametora is a Japanese term meaning “American Traditional.” Learn more about the fascinating overlap between American and Japanese fashion and read an excerpt of Ametora in the New Yorker.

Listen to Marx discuss Status and Culture on NPR.

BJ Novak, well known for his work on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning comedy series The Office, is the author of two books. Discover his writing

About the speakers:

David Marx is the author of two books: a cultural history of Japanese menswear, Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style, and a general theory of cultural change, Status and Culture. His writing has also appeared in VOX, Popeye, and the New Republic as well as on NewYorker.com. He works as an Outside Director for Otsumo Co., Ltd, the company behind the brand Human Made. He was born in the United States but has lived in Tokyo, Japan for the last twenty years. Wdavidmarx.com

B.J. Novak is a writer and actor known for his work on the Emmy Award-winning comedy The Office, as well as films including Inglorious Basterds and Vengeance. He is the best selling author of One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories and The Book With No Pictures.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (Marx and Novak will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

In-person registration for this event is now closed. Please fill out the form below to register to attend online.

Register for this event

Copies of Status and Culture will be available for purchase at the Library in the week leading up to this event and while the event takes place, generously provided by Smith&Son. All sales support this local independent bookstore.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their copy signed following the conversation.


Thu 5 October 2023
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
Event Categories:
(Hybrid) W. David Marx and B.J. Novak: Decoding Culture
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