646 episodes

Interviews with Biographers about their New Books

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    • Society & Culture
    • 4.0 • 51 Ratings

Interviews with Biographers about their New Books

    Michael Gorra, "The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War" (Liveright, 2020)

    Michael Gorra, "The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War" (Liveright, 2020)

    Today I talked to Michael Gorra about his new book The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War (Liveright, 2020). This episode touches on two of William Faulkner’s novels in particular: The Sound and the Fury as well as Absalom, Absalom! It considers the role of memory and history, Faulkner’s alcoholism, the sexual exploitation practiced by plantation owners, and the greater presence of Nathan Bedford Forrest over Robert E. Lee in Faulkner’s fiction writings. Ties to today’s reckoning for racial justice is a part of the episode, too.
    The author of Portrait of a Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is a Professor English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.
    Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of eight books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. (https://www.sensorylogic.com). To check out his related “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” blog, visit https://emotionswizard.com.
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    • 36 min
    Alexs Thompson, "I'll Go: War, Religion, and Coming Home, from Cairo to Kansas City" (2020)

    Alexs Thompson, "I'll Go: War, Religion, and Coming Home, from Cairo to Kansas City" (2020)

    Today I interview Alexs Thompson about his new memoir, I'll Go: War, Religion, and Coming Home, from Cairo to Kansas City (2020). Let me begin with a moment of honesty. When I first heard about Thompson's memoir, I was skeptical that it was true. The experiences about which Thompson writes seem too remarkable, such as setting out to Egypt right after the 9/11 attacks in America with only a backpack and without a plan to study Arabic among fundamentalist Muslims, even though Thompson didn't know Arabic and isn't a Muslim, to working with combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to briefing major intelligence agencies and working with top military officials such as General Petraeus. His life experience seemed more vast and more varied than a person could fit in multiple lives, let alone one. Did I mentioned that Thompson also earned his PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago while many of these events unfolded? And yet I found out: it's true; he's true; and he's here with us today to share some of his remarkable story.
    Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org.
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    • 51 min
    André Gregory, "This Is Not My Memoir" (FSG, 2020)

    André Gregory, "This Is Not My Memoir" (FSG, 2020)

    André Gregory's not-memoir This Is Not My Memoir (FSG, 2020) is a fascinating trip through theatre history as seen through the eyes of one of its greatest directors. The André we encounter in this book will be familiar to fans of his theatre work or of his celebrated performance in My Dinner with André: curious, ebullient, searching, passionate, funny, and inspiring. This book also includes reflections on André's collaborations and friendships with some of theatre's greatest artists, including Jerzy Grotowski, Wallace Shawn, and Helene Weigel. This book belongs on a shelf next to great autobiographies of the theatre like Harold Clurman's The Fervent Years and Tennessee Williams' Memoirs.
    Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.
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    • 52 min
    Elisa Pulido, "The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Elisa Pulido, "The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961 (Oxford University Press, 2020) provides the first full-length biography of a celebrated Latino Mormon leader in the U.S. and Mexico in the early twentieth century. Surprisingly little is known about Bautista's remarkable life, the scope of his work, or the development of his vision. Elisa Eastwood Pulido draws on his letters, books, pamphlets, and unpublished diaries to provide a lens through which to view the convergence of the evangelization efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mexican nationalism, and religious improvisation in the U.S. Mexico borderlands.
    A successful proselytizer of Mexicans for years, from 1922 onward Bautista came to view the paternalism of the Euro-American leadership of the Church as a barrier to ecclesiastical self-governance by indigenous Latter-day Saints. In 1924, he began his journey away from mainstream Mormonism. By 1946, he had established a completely Mexican-led polygamist utopia in Mexico on the slopes of the volcano Popocateptl, twenty-two kilometers southeast of Mexico City. Here, he preached an alternative Mormonism rooted in Mesoamerican history and culture. Based on his indigenous hermeneutic of Mormon scripture, Bautista proclaimed that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were a chosen race, destined to wrest both political and spiritual authority from the descendants of Euro-American colonists. This book provides an in-depth look at a man still regarded with cultural pride by those Mexican and Mexican American Mormons who remember him as an iconic and revolutionary figure.
    David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics and social movements. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Jeffrey B. Perry, "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918–1927" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    Jeffrey B. Perry, "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918–1927" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927 (Columbia University 2020) by Jeffrey B. Perry, independent scholar and archivist, is an extensive intellectual history of the life and work of Black radical and autodidact Hubert Harrison. Perry is also editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan, 2001) and author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 (Columbia, 2008). He is the chief biographer of Hubert Harrison and Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality is a follow up to his aforementioned text on Harrison. (these two volumes can be ordered from Columbia University Press at 20% discount by using Code CUP20). Perry’s volume on Harrison’s life from 1883 to 1918 is considered to be the first volume of an Afro-Caribbean “and only the fourth of an African American after those of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Langston Hughes” (1). This current text is a continuation of the argument advanced in Perry’s initial text on Harrison. Harrison is often left out of major surveys of the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro Era, as Perry notes, and this is likely because the Renaissance is often viewed as a movement of Black intellectual elites with formal higher education. That said, Harrison was a working-class self-taught man who wrote reviews, essays, orations and was recognized by intellectual elites of his day and a member of the Socialist Party of America.
    Harrison was born in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands in 1883 but relocated to the Harlem section of New York City in 1900, at age seventeen, where he eventually became a recognized writer, cultural critic, orator, editor and political activist including working with Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Perry defines Harrison as “the voice” of Harlem radicalism and also a “radical internationalist.” This is a challenge to standard views of the New Negro Era that tend to place intellectuals such as Alain Locke and W.E.B. Du Bois at the helm of Black thought and culture during the Harlem Renaissance moment in African American history. That said, Harrison was also involved with Garvey’s UNIA as editor of the Negro World and in labor activism. Harrison formed the Liberty League in 1917 and The Voice that helped to lay the foundation of the Garvey Movement and the Rise of the UNIA. He was involved in the major debates of his day including discussions about class consciousness, Black nationalism, internationalism, freethought and trade unionism. This second volume by Perry is very necessary given Harrison’s extensive engagement with the ideas and the production of knowledge as a self-taught organic intellectual with deep concerns about human liberation across class and race.
    Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Black Equality is organized into four major sections divided by twenty chapters including an “Epilogue.” It is a far-reaching text of more than 700 pages. Part I focuses on Harrison’s work with The Voice and his political activities in places such as Washington, D.C. and Virginia, In Part II, Harrison’s role as editor of the Negro World is assessed with a discussion of his debates and writings. Part III concerns Harrison’s work as a “freelance educator” and his work as a writer and speaker, while the final part of the text Part IV covers his role as a Black radical internationalist. This is a critically important text. Scholars of the Harlem Renaissance will find it difficult to dismiss Hubert Harrison as a major voice of the New Negro Era with the publication of this text. Perry’s painstaking coverage of Harrison gives him his rightful place in history as “the voice of Harlem radicalism.”
    Hettie V. Williams Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of African American history in the Department of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University where she teaches c

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Rachel Berenson Perry, "The Life and Art of Felrath Hines: From Dark to Light" (Indiana UP, 2019)

    Rachel Berenson Perry, "The Life and Art of Felrath Hines: From Dark to Light" (Indiana UP, 2019)

    Today I talked to Rachel Berenson Perry about her book The Life and Art of Felrath Hines: From Dark to Light (Indiana University Press, 2019). Felrath Hines (1913–1993), the first African American man to become a professional conservator for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, was born and raised in the segregated Midwest. Leaving their home in the South, Hines's parents migrated to Indianapolis with hopes for a better life. While growing up, Hines was encouraged by his seamstress mother to pursue his early passion for art by taking Saturday classes at Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis. He moved to Chicago in 1937, where he attended the Art Institute of Chicago in pursuit of his dreams.
    Kirstin L. Ellsworth holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Indiana University and is Associate Professor of Art History at California State University Dominguez Hills.
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    • 34 min

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51 Ratings

51 Ratings

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