126 episodes

In this weekly series, we air previously recorded conversations with leading authors, poets, graphic novelists, playwrights, songwriters, historians and more about craft, processes, influences, inspirations, and what it's like to live as a writer. These episodes are edited and condensed versions of our programs and they are a great way to discover new writers, listen to a program you missed, or relive a program that you loved!

AWM Author Talks The American Writers Museum

    • Arts

In this weekly series, we air previously recorded conversations with leading authors, poets, graphic novelists, playwrights, songwriters, historians and more about craft, processes, influences, inspirations, and what it's like to live as a writer. These episodes are edited and condensed versions of our programs and they are a great way to discover new writers, listen to a program you missed, or relive a program that you loved!

    Episode 127: Brooks E. Hefner

    Episode 127: Brooks E. Hefner

    This week, professor and historian Brooks E. Hefner discusses his book Black Pulp: Genre Fiction in the Shadow of Jim Crow, a deep dive into mid-century African American newspapers, exploring how Black pulp fiction reassembled genre formulas in the service of racial justice. Hefner is interviewed by journalist Evan F. Moore.



    The following conversation originally took place May 15, 2022 at the American Writers Festival and was recorded live.



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    About Black Pulp: Genre Fiction in the Shadow of Jim Crow



    In recent years, Jordan Peele's Get Out, Marvel's Black Panther, and HBO's Watchmen have been lauded for the innovative ways they repurpose genre conventions to criticize white supremacy, celebrate Black resistance, and imagine a more racially just world—important progressive messages widely spread precisely because they are packaged in popular genres. But it turns out, such generic retooling for antiracist purposes is nothing new.



    As Brooks E. Hefner's Black Pulp shows, this tradition of antiracist genre revision begins even earlier than recent studies of Black superhero comics of the 1960s have revealed. Hefner traces it back to a phenomenon that began in the 1920s, to serialized (and sometimes syndicated) genre stories written by Black authors in Black newspapers with large circulations among middle- and working-class Black readers. From the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier and the Baltimore Afro-American, Hefner recovers a rich archive of African American genre fiction from the 1920s through the mid-1950s—spanning everything from romance, hero-adventure, and crime stories to westerns and science fiction. Reading these stories, Hefner explores how their authors deployed, critiqued, and reassembled genre formulas—and the pleasures they offer to readers—in the service of racial justice: to criticize Jim Crow segregation, racial capitalism, and the sexual exploitation of Black women; to imagine successful interracial romance and collective sociopolitical progress; and to cheer Black agency, even retributive violence in the face of white supremacy.



    These popular stories differ significantly from contemporaneous, now-canonized African American protest novels that tend to represent Jim Crow America as a deterministic machine and its Black inhabitants as doomed victims. Widely consumed but since forgotten, these genre stories—and Hefner's incisive analysis of them—offer a more vibrant understanding of African American literary history.

    • 37 min
    Episode 126: Leonard Moore

    Episode 126: Leonard Moore

    This week, author and professor Leonard Moore discusses his book Teaching Black History to White People. Moore is joined in conversation by Laura McEnaney, Vice President for Research and Education at the Newberry Library.



    The following conversation originally took place May 15th, 2022 at the American Writers Festival and was recorded live.



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    More about Teaching Black History to White People:



    Leonard Moore has been teaching Black history for twenty-five years, mostly to white people. Drawing on decades of experience in the classroom and on college campuses throughout the South, as well as on his own personal history, Moore illustrates how an understanding of Black history is necessary for everyone.



    With Teaching Black History to White People, which is "part memoir, part Black history, part pedagogy, and part how-to guide," Moore delivers an accessible and engaging primer on the Black experience in America. He poses provocative questions, such as "Why is the teaching of Black history so controversial?" and "What came first: slavery or racism?" These questions don't have easy answers, and Moore insists that embracing discomfort is necessary for engaging in open and honest conversations about race. Moore includes a syllabus and other tools for actionable steps that white people can take to move beyond performative justice and toward racial reparations, healing, and reconciliation.

    • 40 min
    Episode 125: Comedy Writing Panel

    Episode 125: Comedy Writing Panel

    We thought we’d kick off 2023 with an episode full of laughs! In this episode, comedy writers Cristela Alonzo, Karen Chee, Peter Gwinn, Alexandra Petri and Peter Sagal discuss their crafts and the role of comedy writing in American culture.



    The following conversation originally took place May 15, 2022 at the American Writers Festival and was recorded live.



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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Episode 124: The Best of 2022

    Episode 124: The Best of 2022

    This week we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from the top episodes we released in 2022. From Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners to screenwriters, novelists and more, we hope you enjoy entering the minds of these writers.



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    • 28 min
    Episode 123: Jed Rasula

    Episode 123: Jed Rasula

    This week, celebrate the 100th anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s iconic poem The Waste Land with scholar and professor Jed Rasula, author of What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern. Rasula discusses his book and the enduring impact of The Waste Land with poet and scholar Reginald Gibbons.



    The following conversation originally took place December 6th, 2022 and was recorded live via Zoom.

    • 47 min
    Episode 122: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022

    Episode 122: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022

    This week, we discuss The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022 anthology with guest editor Rebecca Roanhorse, series editor John Joseph Adams, and bestselling author Veronica Roth. With a diverse selection of stories chosen by series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor Rebecca Roanhorse, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022 explores the ever-expanding and changing world of contemporary science fiction and fantasy.



    This conversation originally took place November 13, 2022 at the American Writers Museum and was recorded live.



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    About the speakers:



    REBECCA ROANHORSE is a New York Times bestselling and Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer. Rebecca has published multiple award-winning short stories and five novels, including two in The Sixth World Series, Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, Race to the Sun for the Rick Riordan imprint, and her latest novel, the epic fantasy Black Sun. She has also written for Marvel Comics and for television, and had projects optioned by Amazon Studios, Netflix, and Paramount TV. Find her Fiction & Non-Fiction HERE.



    JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS is the series editor of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy and is the editor of more than thirty anthologies, such as Wastelands and The Living Dead. He is also editor (and publisher) of the Hugo Award-winning magazine Lightspeed, and for five years he was the editor of the John Joseph Adams Books novel imprint for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Lately, he’s been working as an editor on TTRPG projects for Kobold Press and Monte Cook Games and as a contributing game designer on books such as Tome of Heroes. Learn more at johnjosephadams.com.



    VERONICA ROTH is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Poster Girl and Chosen Ones, the short story collection The End and Other Beginnings, the Divergent series, and the Carve the Mark duology. She was also the guest editor of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. Learn more at veronicarothbooks.com

    • 48 min

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