The African American Literature and Culture Now symposium brings together a group of leading scholars in African American humanistic fields to identify and discuss the central questions that animate 21st-century Black Studies.
Held over two days, the symposium features a keynote lecture, “The End of Black Studies,” from Stephen Best (Berkeley), three panels comprised of guest speakers and Michigan respondents, a writing workshop for graduate students and postdocs, and a concluding roundtable focused on teaching. Over the course of the symposium, conversations will range across a number of vital topics including: nation/diaspora; political activism; historicity; gender/sexuality; and cross-media cultural production.
In addition to keynote speaker Stephen Best, the symposium’s guest speakers are Margo Crawford (UPenn), Madhu Dubey (UIC), Erica Edwards (Rutgers), Emily Lordi (UMass/Vanderbilt), Kevin Quashie (Brown), and Courtney Thorsson (Oregon).
We welcome poet and Ford School of Public Policy professor Molly Spencer in support of her collection, If the house, winner of the 2019 Brittingham Prize judged by Carl Philips. A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
Molly Spencer‘s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Copper Nickel, FIELD, The Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. Her critical writing has appeared at Colorado Review, Kenyon Review Online, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Rumpus. She holds an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop, and is a Poetry Editor at The Rumpus. Her collection, If the house, won the 2019 Brittingham Prize judged by Carl Phillips, and is forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press in October of 2019. A second collection, Relic and the Plum, won the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition judged by Allison Joseph, and will be out in September of 2020. Molly teaches at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
One MFA student of fiction and one of poetry, each introduced by a peer, will read their work. The Mark Webster Reading Series presents emerging writers in a warm and relaxed setting. We encourage you to bring your friends – a Webster reading makes for an enjoyable and enlightening Friday evening.
This week’s reading features Annesha Sengupta and Bryan Byrdlong.
Annesha Sengupta is a writer from Richmond, VA.
Bryan Byrdlong is a Haitian/African-American writer from Chicago, Illinois. He recently graduated from Venderbilt University where he received an undergraduate English/Creative Writing degree. He currently studies and teaches English at the University of Michigan.
John Knott shares his essays, which present a story of getting to know a place intimately and learning to deal with challenges from the human and natural worlds, from developers and county officials to windstorms, a hatch of seventeen-year cicadas, flying squirrels in the attic, and a bullfrog that takes up residence for the winter in the basement floor drain.
About the Author
John R. Knott, Jr., was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 9, 1937, the son of John R. Knott and Wilma Henshaw Knott. He graduated from Central High School in 1955 and did his undergraduate work at Yale University, graduating magna cum laude with high honors in English in 1959. In 1959-60 he held a Carnegie Fellowship at Yale, taking one graduate course and teaching undergraduate English. During that year he married Anne Percy Knott of Memphis. He went to Harvard University for his graduate work with a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1960-61), earning a Ph.D. in English in 1965 after serving as a Teaching Fellow in General Education and in English. He remained at Harvard as an Instructor in English for two years before joining the Department of English of the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor in 1967. By that time he and his wife Anne had four children: Catherine Henshaw Knott, Ellen Dent Knott, Walker Percy Knott, and Anne Minor Knott.
At Michigan John Knott was promoted to Associate Professor in 1971 and Professor in 1976. He specialized in English Renaissance literature for much of his career, teaching a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Milton, Spenser, Shakespeare, and the Puritan imagination. He twice received recognition for his teaching in the form of LSA Excellence in Education awards. He published numerous articles and chapters and three scholarly books on Renaissance literature: Milton’s Pastoral Vision (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971); The Sword of the Spirit (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1980), with the help of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities; and Discourses of Martyrdom in English Literature: 1563-1694 (Cambridge University Press, 1993), with the help of a Michigan Humanities Award. In the 1990’s his teaching and research interests gradually shifted to literature and the environment. He published a critical book that grew out of a course he developed in the literature of the American wilderness, Imagining Wild America (Univ. of Michigan Press, 2001) and subsequently Imagining the Forest: Narratives of the Upper Midwest (University of Michigan Press, 2012). He has edited or co-edited several collections dealing with the environment, including The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed (Univ. of Michigan Press, 2000) and Michigan: Our Land, Our Water Our Heritage (Univ. of Michigan Press, 2008, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.
John Knott’s service at Michigan has included Assoc. Dean (1977-80) and Acting Dean (1980-81) of LSA; Chair of the Department of English (1982-87); Interim Director of the Humanities Institute (1987-88); and Interim Director of the Program in the Environment (2001-2). As chair of English he started the MFA program in creative writing. He served on the planning committee for the Institute for the Humanities and acted as interim director during its startup year. Several years before his retirement from the faculty in 2006 he chaired the planning and implementation committees that established the joint LSA/SNRE Program in the Environment, which replaced the SNRE undergraduate program, and directed the program for its first year and a half.
Parneshia Jones is the author of Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions), winner of the Midwest Book Award. After studying creative writing at Chicago State University, earning an MFA from Spalding University, and studying publishing at Yale University, Jones has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award. Named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine, her work has been anthologized in She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney; and featured on PBS Newshour, the Academy of American Poets, and espnW. A member of the Affrilachian Poets, she serves on the board of Cave Canem and Global Writes. She currently holds positions as Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press. Parneshia Jones lives in Chicago.
Writing a story for children is a special art, and these short manuscripts can sometimes take as long to complete as a full-length novel. In this workshop, New York Times bestselling and Caldecott-winning author Philip C. Stead will discuss how to write books that kids love.
This is part of the monthly Emerging Writers Workshops, which offer support, learning, and advice for local authors. Each month, two weeks after the workshop, there is a meet-up where the instructors will read samples of your work and offer advice and assistance in a casual, supportive atmosphere.
Do you have a completed manuscript? Consider submitting it to the library’s imprint Fifth Avenue Press.
Join us for a thought-provoking conversation about the culprits of and solutions for the largest issues facing the world today.
The Erb Institute is proud to host an evening with Anand Giridharadas, author of the National Best Seller, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. This candid conversation will examine the role of business in society, the flaws of philanthropy and the possibility of changing the world from the ground up. We’ll discuss climate change—culprits, challenges and collaboration for progress—social inequality—who’s winning, who’s losing and why—and what needs to change.
Seating will be on a first come first served basis. Book signing in partnership with Literati to immediately follow the event.
We welcome New York Times bestselling author Tim Johnston in support of his new novel The Current. Free and open to the public, book signing to follow.
About the book: In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scene—half frozen but alive.
What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.
Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown.
Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty—all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back.
Tim Johnston, a native of Iowa City, is the author of The Current and the New York Times bestseller Descent, as well as a young adult novel, Never So Green, and the story collection Irish Girl, winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction.
Open-mic storytelling competitions. Open to anyone with a five-minute story to share on the night’s theme. Come tell a story, or just enjoy the show!
6:30pm Doors Open | 7:30pm Stories Begin
*Tickets for this event are available one week before the show, at 3pm ET.
*Seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes before the show. Admission is not guaranteed for late arrivals. All sales final.
Media Sponsor: Michigan Radio.
GUMPTION: Prepare a five-minute story about go-getting. Moments of courage and the peaks and pratfalls of a daring spirit. Scaling mountains or admitting to mistakes. Nerves of steel or jelly legs. Tell us about your gutsiest gambles and the mettle that forged them. You’ve got moxie, kid!