Acts, Facts, and Artifacts: The Stuff of Black Culture

September 26, 2018 (Wednesday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

Lightbox Film Center, International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut St

Acts, Facts, and Artifacts: The Stuff of Black Culture

Kevin Young

Award-winning Author and Poet
Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Herman Beavers

Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt President’s Distinguished Professor of English and Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania

The Wolf Humanities Center's yearlong program on Stuff kicks off with Kevin Young, award-winning poet, New Yorker editor, author of the bestselling Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News, and Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Following a reading from a recent work, Young will join Prof. Herman Beavers of Penn’s English and Africana Studies departments for an in-depth conversation about the varied material forms of Black culture and the challenges of preserving them. Book signing to follow.

Cosponsored by the Departments of Africana Studies and English and the Center for Africana Studies.

Kevin Young - photo by Melanie DuneaKevin Young is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at New York Public Libraries and Poetry Editor of the New Yorker. He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, most recently Brown (Knopf, 2018); Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (Knopf, 2016), longlisted for the National Book Award; and Book of Hours (Knopf, 2014), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. His collection Jelly Roll: a blues (Knopf, 2003) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Young’s nonfiction book, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (Graywolf Press, 2017), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and named a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” selection, and a “Best Book of 2017″ by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian, Vogue, the Atlantic, Nylon, BuzzFeed, and Electric Literature. Young’s previous nonfiction book, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press, 2012), won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award; it was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. 

Young is the editor of eight other collections, most recently The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 (BOA Editions, 2012) and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012). Named University Distinguished Professor at Emory University, Young was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.


Herman Beavers has taught at Penn since 1989. Professor Beavers has a joint appointment in the Department of Africana Studies and teaches courses in African American and American literature, including courses on Southern Modernism, 20th Century African American Poetry, as well as  "Trading Fours: The Literatures of Jazz," which is a requisite course in the Jazz and Popular Music minor. He also teaches a section of the introductory poetry workshop in the Creative Writing Program. Professor Beavers also teaches (with Prof. Suzana Berger) the Arts-Based Community Service course entitled, "August Wilson and Beyond," which brings Penn students together with West Philadelphia residents to read August Wilson's Century Cycle of plays. His most recent poems have appeared (or are about to appear) in MELUS, The Langston Hughes Colloquy, Versadelphia, Cleaver Magazine, and The American Arts Quarterly. He has recently published essays on August Wilson, Charles Johnson, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison. His latest book, Changing the Order of Things: Geography and the Political Imaginary in the Novels of Toni Morrison, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. He also serves as an advisory editor at African American Review, Modern Fiction Studies, and The Black Scholar.