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PBS Receives NEH Grant
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Watch Lindsay Ellis in the original series of IT’S LIT! on YouTube.

Book Lovers Rejoice: PBS Digital Studios' IT'S LIT! will return with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities

September 2019 - Thanks to a generous grant of nearly $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), PBS Digital Studios’ series It’s Lit! will continue to champion a love of all things literature-related to a new generation. To be released on YouTube and Facebook, the videos will build on the successful 12-episode It’s Lit! series PBS Digital Studios launched last year. PBS Digital Studios is the digital programming arm of PBS that develops original content aimed at younger Americans through platforms beyond traditional broadcast.

A series of smart, funny and shareable video essays about books and why we love to read, It’s Lit! was originally conceived as a companion to 2018’s The Great American Read, a PBS broadcast series in search of America’s best‐loved novel. This grant will provide funding to create an additional 30 episodes of It’s Lit!, among other literature-focused content.

"This grant gives us a chance to expand our slate of humanities programming in a way that will have real impact, and we're so grateful to the NEH for this opportunity," said Brandon Arolfo, who heads PBS Digital Studios.

It’s Lit! is hosted by video essayist Lindsay Ellis, who lends a sharp and humorous eye to the world of literary analysis. Ellis highlights classic texts alongside popular books and genres that, until recently, may not have been considered literary at all, including online fan fiction, fantasy, and romance.

“NEH grants help strengthen and sustain American cultural life, in communities, at libraries, museums, historic sites, and in classroom,” and NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede, announcing the latest NEH grants. “Through the Endowment’s funding, PBS’ IT’S LIT! helps communicate literature’s many delights and societal value to a new generation of readers.”

As It’s Lit demonstrated in its first run of episodes — which received an average of 650,000 combined views per episode on YouTube and Facebook — there is a young, diverse audience who loves to read and is hungry for an educational, entertaining series about books.

In addition to the It’s Lit web series, the NEH grant will provide funding for PBS member station WGBH to produce companion podcasts to the videos. While It’s Lit will feature analysis of prominent books and genres, the podcast will focus on conversations with authors.

Images courtesy of PBS Digital Studios and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.