photo of annual faculty book celebration

Faculty Book Celebration

Recognizing the milestone of publication and the creative achievement of our faculty

“Blackface Broken Records: On the Eve of the Blues Feminist Experiment” (2020)

Daphne Brooks, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, and Professor of Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University

This talk threads together an exploration of women in blackface minstrelsy, race riots of the Progressive Era, the classic black women’s blues craze and the origins of one of the world’s most famous musicals. In particular, it questions the ways that African Americans navigated an early 20th-century popular culture that policed and restricted their sounds. Ultimately, it asserts that the struggle over radicalized sound in the 1910s was a battle waged between women artists — black and white, in the north and in the south, and on the eve of a blues music revolution.

Daphne A. Brooks is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP), winner of the Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR; and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005). Brooks is currently working on a three-volume study of black women and popular music culture titled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity. The first volume in the trilogy, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Archive, the Critic, and Black Women’s Sound Cultures, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

Washington University faculty speakers: William Acree, associate professor of Spanish, American culture studies (Affiliate) and performing arts (Affiliate), and associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity; and Jonathan Fenderson, assistant professor of African and African-American studies


Past Faculty Book Celebrations

“Sustainable Forms: Routine, Infrastructure, Conservation” (2019)

Caroline Levine, the David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities, Cornell University

Washington University faculty speakers: John Hendrix, associate professor of art; and Michelle Purdy, assistant professor of education


“The Origins of Today’s Billionaire-Funded Radical Right and the Crisis of American Democracy” (2018)

Nancy MacLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy, Duke University 

Washington University faculty speakers: Joanna Dee Das, assistant professor of dance; and Corinna Treitel, associate professor of history


“The Humanities After 2016: What Do We Want to Become?” (2017)

Sidonie Smith, the Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities, professor of English and women’s studies, director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan

Washington University faculty speakers: Ron Mallon, associate professor of philosophy; and Sowande’ Mustakeem, assistant professor of history and of African and African-American studies

“The Praiseworthy One: Devotional Images of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Traditions” (2015–16)

Christiane Gruber, associate professor, history of art, University of Michigan

Washington University faculty speakers: Catherine Keane, associate professor of classics; and Zhao Ma, assistant professor of modern Chinese history and culture

“From ‘Plessy’ to Ferguson: Why the Humanities Matter Now” (2014)

George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies and Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Books, Libraries, and the Digital Future” (2013)

Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard

“The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” (2012)

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University

Tenth Annual Faculty Book Celebration (2011)

Douglas Brinkley, noted author and commentator, professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy; and Roz Chast, staff cartoonist for The New Yorker

“Academic Publishing in Transition” (2010)

 Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of History, Columbia University

Eighth Annual Faculty Book Celebration (2009)

Louis Menand, essayist, literary critic, journalist, and author

Seventh Annual Faculty Book Celebration (2008)

Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California-Berkeley, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and author of five books
Washington University faculty speakers: Beata Grant, professor of modern Chinese language and literature, and Patrick Burke, assistant professor of music

“The Writer’s (Secret) Life: Woundedness, Rejection, and Inspiration” (2007)

Joyce Carol Oates, award-winning author