NCTE Presents - A Conversation on Book-to-Film Adaptation - National Council of Teachers of English

Sunday, September 27, 2020
8:00 p.m. ET



Ethan Hawke, Daveed Diggs, and Joshua Caleb Johnson star in a humorous, dramatic story that weaves a tapestry of antebellum America based on the award-winning novel by James McBride. The story is told from the point of view of Onion, a newly freed teenager who joins abolitionist John Brown on a holy crusade to end slavery and finds himself part of the famous 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry. This Limited Event Series is an adventure made of equal parts absurdity and tragedy and spotlighting the ever-changing racial, religious, and gender roles that make up the American identity.

The series premieres on SHOWTIME® on Sunday, October 4, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. NCTE will join in conversation with actor Ethan Hawke and author James McBride on Sunday, September 27, on this book-to-film adaptation. Hawke and McBride will be interviewed by NCTE President-Elect Valerie Kinloch.


ETHAN HAWKE is an American actor, writer, and director. He has starred in more than sixty films and been nominated for Academy Awards and a Tony Award. Hawke has directed feature films, off-Broadway plays, and a documentary. He has also written novels, including a graphic novel, Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars, and a children’s book, Rules for a Knight, both of which were New York Times bestsellers.

Photo credit: Sam Jones


JAMES MCBRIDE is an award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter. His landmark memoir The Color of Water, published in 1996, has sold millions of copies and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Considered an American classic, it is read in schools and universities across the United States. A native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools, McBride studied composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his master’s degree at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. In 2015, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama “for humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America.” He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Photo credit: Chia Messina


VALERIE KINLOCH, NCTE President-Elect, holds the positions of professor and Renée and Richard Goldman Dean, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh; executive member, AERA Consortium of University and Research Institutions; and cochair, Remake Learning Council. Prior to assuming the deanship at the University of Pittsburgh, Kinloch served as professor of literacy studies and associate dean, Ohio State University, and as assistant professor of literacy studies, Teachers College, Columbia University.