WYOMISSING, Pa. -- David Witwer, 2020-21 Penn State Laureate and professor of American studies in Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Humanities, will give a virtual presentation titled "Searching for Jimmy Hoffa" for the Penn State Berks community on Friday, Oct. 2. Witwer's presentation will take place via Zoom from 12:15 to1:15 p.m. and it is free and open to the public. Non-Penn State guests should contact Jeanne Marie Rose, associate professor of English, at [email protected] for more information or to register for the event.
Witwer's presentation will draw from his research on corruption, organized crime, and labor racketeering, including his current book project, "Searching for Jimmy Hoffa," which traces the history of what is known about International Brotherhood of Teamsters president James R. Hoffa’s disappearance, his involvement with organized crime, and what his career reveals about working-class attitudes towards corruption.
The presentation will explore the powerful labor leader’s disappearance in 1975, which made him the most prominent victim of a mob hit in American history. Hoffa’s enduring popularity with his union members, despite his criminal convictions, provides a chance to consider the diverse perspectives Americans bring to the issue of corruption. The fact that Hoffa’s case remains unsolved, his body never found, has also given his story a mythic character, making him prominent in popular culture.
Witwer notes that his laureate presentations will not only provide an account of the events involved in this history but will also connect those details to broader issues intrinsic to the humanities. He plans to generate conversations about what past confrontations with corruption can teach us today.
About the Penn State Laureate
An annual faculty honor established in 2008, the Penn State Laureate is a full-time faculty member in the arts or humanities who is assigned half-time for one academic year to bring greater visibility to the arts, humanities and the University, as well as to his or her own work. In this role, the laureate is a highly visible representative of the University, appearing at events and speaking engagements throughout the commonwealth. Witwer succeeds 2019–20 Penn State Laureate William J. Doan, professor of theater and artist-in-residence at the College of Nursing.