What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?
In his keynote address for the Faculty Book Celebration, Walter Johnson will tell the story of how he came to the topic of his most recent book, The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States (Basic Books, 2020). From Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, American history has been made in St. Louis. And as Walter Johnson shows in this searing book, the city exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation’s past. More details to come.
Washington University faculty speakers
Two members of the Washington University faculty will speak on their own new book releases.
The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging
(New York University Press, 2020)
Revealing the long aesthetic tradition of African American cartoonists who have made use of racist caricature as a black diasporic art practice, Rebecca Wanzo demonstrates how these artists have resisted histories of visual imperialism and their legacies. Moving beyond binaries of positive and negative representation, many black cartoonists have used caricatures to criticize constructions of ideal citizenship in the United States, as well as the alienation of African Americans from such imaginaries. The Content of Our Caricature urges readers to recognize how the wide circulation of comic and cartoon art contributes to a common language of both national belonging and exclusion in the United States.
Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New York
(University of North Carolina Press, 2020)
Early twentieth-century African American men in northern urban centers like New York faced economic isolation, segregation, a biased criminal justice system, and overt racial attacks by police and citizens. In this book, Douglas J. Flowe interrogates the meaning of crime and violence in the lives of these men, whose lawful conduct itself was often surveilled and criminalized, by focusing on what their actions and behaviors represented to them. He narrates the stories of men who sought profits in underground markets, protected themselves when law enforcement failed to do so, and exerted control over public, commercial, and domestic spaces through force in a city that denied their claims to citizenship and manhood. Flowe furthermore traces how the features of urban Jim Crow and the efforts of civic and progressive leaders to restrict their autonomy ultimately produced the circumstances under which illegality became a form of resistance.
About the keynote speaker
Walter Johnson grew up in Columbia, Missouri, and is a member of the Rock Bridge High School Hall of Fame (2006). His prize-winning books, Soul by Soul: Life Inside in the Antebellum Slave Market (1999) and River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Mississippi Valley's Cotton Kingdom (2013), were published by Harvard University Press. His autobiographical essay, “Guns in the Family,” was included the 2019 edition of Best American Essays; it was originally published in the Boston Review, of which Johnson is a contributing editor. The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States was published in the spring of 2020. Johnson is a founding member of the Commonwealth Project, which brings together academics, artists, and activists in an effort to imagine, foster, and support revolutionary social change, beginning in St. Louis.
Headline image: “St. Louis Riverfront.” Photo by Ted Engler / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0CLICK HERE TO RSVP