Skip To Content
Online Book Club: Hillbilly Elegy is a Course

Online Book Club: Hillbilly Elegy

Jul 25 - Aug 30, 2018

$50 Enroll

Full course description

5-Week Course


Could listening be an initial step in bridging the deep social, political and cultural divides in the U.S. today? In the midst of the digital din, how does one sort out the voices? A compelling memoir might be a good start. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance is both narrator of his own story and a frank and honest social commentator about the circumstances he, his family, and his community faced. A complex portrait of the white working class who feel excluded emerges. Join us in reading Vance’s memoir, discussing his analysis and observations, and discovering the impact of his story on your own.

This course has a required text: J.D. Vance. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. HarperCollins, 2016.


  • Introductory Week
  • Week 1: Getting to Know the Family (Chs. 1-4)
  • Week 2: Grade School Years (Chs. 5-8)
  • Week 3: High School, Marines, College (Chs. 9-11)
  • Week 4: Law School and Marriage (Chs. 12 – 15, Conclusion)

Special Features

  • Weekly introductions to each new topic
  • Links to a different published commentary or review of the book each week
  • Weekly questions for reflection and discussion
  • A regularly updated Resources page for further study of topics discussed in this course

All STM Online: Crossroads courses include these features

  • Participants have access 24 hours/7 days a week to the course's password-protected web site.
  • Each participant belongs to a small Community for Conversation and faith sharing guided by a facilitator.
  • The course site is usually available to participants at least three months after the course has ended.
  • An orientation in how to navigate the web site is always available.
  • Technical assistance is easy to contact and prompt in returning a message.
  • A Certificate of Active Participation is awarded to those who post at least three messages of substance for each week of content.

Additional Materials Needed

J.D. Vance. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. HarperCollins, 2016. Twenty-Third Publications, 2014

Time Commitment

A participant can expect to spend an average of approximately 3-4 hours each week. This commitment includes both the assigned reading and interaction online.

Content Scholars

  • The book is a memoir by J.D. Vance, who grew up in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. He is currently a principal in an investment firm. He is often a TV commentator on current events.