photo of annual faculty book celebration

Faculty Book Celebration

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

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

2021 Faculty Book Celebration

Walter Johnson, the Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

4 pm | Thursday, April 1, 2021
This event will be held via Zoom; please see the event page to register. 


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.

Washington University faculty speakers: Douglas Flowe, assistant professor of history, Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New York (University of North Carolina Press, 2020); and Rebecca Wanzo, professor and chair of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging
(New York University Press, 2020)

Past Faculty Book Celebrations

“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

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


“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