|8:30 - 9:00 am||Guests enter the Madison building and proceed to the 6th floor to the Mumford Room|
|9:00 - 9:20am||Welcome Remarks|
|9:20 - 10:30am||Roundtable I - Politics, Vision, Purpose: Rewriting American Identity.
Speakers: Jerrold Hirsch, Sue Rubenstein DeMasi, Catherine Stewart, John Edgar Tidwell, Sara Rutkowski (moderator)
|10:40 - 11:50am||Roundtable II - Recovering Voices in the FWP
Speakers: Maureen Curtin, Maggie Morris Davis, Diana Noreen Rivera, Greg Robinson, James Sun, Barbara Bair (moderator)
|1:00 - 2:00pm||Keynote Address: Alessandro Portelli|
|2:10 - 3:20pm||Roundtable III - Surveying the Contemporary Scene: Archival Resources In Creative Culture and Media Productions
Speakers: C. Zawadi Morris, Carole Emberton, Catherine Hiebert Kerst, David Taylor, Guha Shankar (moderator)
|3:30 - 4:40pm||Roundtable IV - Surveying the Contemporary Scene: Public Humanities and Education
Speakers: Deborah Mutnick, Anna Kaplan, Michele Fazio, Benji de la Piedra (moderator)
|4:40 - 5:00pm||Book signing in lobby|
|5:00 - 6:00pm||Reception - Mumford Lobby|
|KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Alessandro Portelli is an internationally recognized scholar, teacher and leading figure in public and oral history. He is founder and chairman of the Circolo Gianni Bosio, an independent organization for the study and promotion of people’s cultures, folk music and oral history. He has served as visiting professor, research fellow and in other capacities at several universities worldwide, including Manchester, Aberdeen, Columbia, Kentucky, and Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. He taught American Literature at the Universities of Siena and Rome from 1974 to 2012. From 2004 to 2008 he served as Rome’s Mayor’s advisor on historical memory; in 2005-6 he was a member of Rome’s city council. He In 2013, he was awarded an honorary degree from the National University of La Plata, Argentina. In 2014-15, he was a visiting professor at Princeton University, co-teaching a course on Bruce Springsteen’s America. His book Badlands. Springsteen e l'America: il lavoro e i sogni was published in Italy by Donzelli in 2015.
He has won several prizes for his published work: The Order has Been Carried Out: History, Memory and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome (Palgrave, 2003) won the Oral History Association Best Book Award; the original Italian edition, L’ordine è già stato eseguito. Roma, le Fosse Ardeatine, la memoria (Donzelli, 1999) won the Viareggio Book Prize. I Can Almost See the Lights of Home External (with Charles Hardy III, Journal of MultiMedia History, 2, 1999, won the Oral History Association award for best non-print work in oral history. They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History (Oxford, 2011) won the Weatherford Appalachian Book Prize; the Italian translation, America profonda. Due secoli raccontati da Harlan County, Kentucky (Donzelli, 2012) won the Onofri Book Prize.
In addition to the English translations, his work has been translated into Spanish, Catalan, Finnish, and Portuguese (two collections of his essays have appeared in Brazil and in Portugal). He has published in many academic journals and writes regularly for il manifesto daily in Rome, produces radio programs and has edited a number of records based on his field recordings of Italian folk music. Recently he has curated a collection of music and life stories from immigrants to Italy from different parts of the world: We are not going back: Musiche migranti di resistenza, orgoglio e memoria (2016).
|Roundtable I - Politics, Vision, Purpose: Rewriting American Identity|
|Jerrold Hirsch, emeritus professor of history at Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, is the author of Portrait of America: A Cultural History of the Federal Writers’ Project (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), co-editor (with Larry Rogers) of America’s Folklorist: B. A. Botkin and American Culture (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010), and co-editor (with Tom Terrill) of Such as Us: Southern Voices of the Thirties (University of North Carolina Press, 1978), a collection of previously unpublished Federal Writers’ Project southern life histories. He has published numerous articles on the FWP, the history of American folklore studies, oral history, and disability history in journals, edited books, and as introductions to books. He is currently working on a study of the creative folklore and writing projects of the FWP and on a biography of B. A. Botkin.|
|John Edgar Tidwell is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Kansas. For his scholarship, teaching, and service, Washburn University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Literature in 2014. Before his retirement in 2018, he taught undergraduate and graduate classes in American and African American literatures; major author courses in Gordon Parks, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston; and an introduction to the study of fiction. His areas of research are American and African American literatures. He has edited or coedited eight books, including My Dear Boy: Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926-1938 (University of Georgia Press, 2013), After Winter: The Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown<(Oxford University Press, 2009), Writings of Frank Marshall Davis: A Voice of the Black Press (University Press of Mississippi, 2006), and Montage of a Dream: The Art and Life of Langston Hughes (University of Missouri Press, 2007). He has published chapters in ten different books. His numerous essays, book reviews, literary dictionary entries, interviews, and a bibliography have appeared in such publications as Callaloo, African American Review, Journal of American History, CLA Journal, and The Langston Hughes Review. With colleagues, he used funding from the Kansas Humanities Council to make Langston’s Lawrence, a short documentary film that examines Langston Hughes’s adolescent years in Lawrence, KS. He holds degrees in English from Washburn University (BA, ‘69), Creighton University (MA, ‘71), and the University of Minnesota (PhD, ‘81).|
|Sue Rubenstein DeMasi is the author of Henry Alsberg: The Driving Force of the New Deal Federal Writers’ Project (McFarland, 2016). An academic librarian and professor emeritus at Suffolk County Community College in New York, as well as a dramatic writer and journalist, DeMasi has presented widely on Alsberg and the Federal Writers’ Project. In 2021 she served as a visiting scholar for the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute and hosted a National Archives presentation on the FWP. Her latest writing on Alsberg appears in Rewriting America: New Essays on the Federal Writers’ Project (UMass Press, 2022). The venues at which she has spoken include the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and the University of California, Berkeley. Her play about the FWP, Ten Thousand Stories, was produced at Suffolk County Community College and at Bare Bones Theatre Company on Long Island. DeMasi serves as a National Associate for the Living New Deal, an organization that promotes awareness of the New Deal’s accomplishments. She is also an advisor to David Taylor/Spark Media’s People’s Recorder podcast. She is currently working on a biography of John G. Winant, the first American representative of the International Labour Organization, the first Chairman of the Social Security Board, and the American Ambassador to Britain during World War II.|
|Catherine A. Stewart is Professor of History at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, where she teaches courses in late nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. social and cultural history. Her first book, Long Past Slavery: Representing Race in the Federal Writers’ Project (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine and has been featured in The Atlantic, the New York Times, Slate, and Columbia Review of Journalism. She has been a guest on C-SPAN 3, the New Books Network podcast, and the Center for Brooklyn History Talks. Her work has been published in the Journal of American History, American Quarterly, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, and Civil War History. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her forthcoming book on African Americans and household labor during the Great Depression.|
|Sara Rutkowski is associate professor of English at the City University of New York: Kingsborough Community College. Originally from Canada, she completed her doctoral work on the Federal Writers’ Project at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of Literary Legacies of the Federal Writers’ Project: Voices of the Depression in the American Postwar Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and the editor of Rewriting America: New Essays on the Federal Writers’ Project (UMass Press, 2022). She has also published various essays on writers Ralph Ellison and Nelson Algren and on the cultural and political contexts of twentieth-century American and global literature.|
|Roundtable II - Recovering Voices in the FWP|
|Diana Noreen Rivera Noreen Rivera is Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Her research largely centralizes Mexican American cultural producers via interdisciplinary frameworks across regional, national, transborder, and global geographies. She currently serves as an elected member of the Modern Language Association’s Executive Committee on Race and Ethnicity Studies, and she was a selected participant in the 2022 NEH Summer Faculty Institute: Transnational Dialogues in Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latinx Studies. She was previously the coordinator of UTRGV's Voices of a Pandemic Oral History Project, a public-facing digital archive, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin Voices Oral History Center, which preserves stories of Latinx communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her publications appear in Aztlán, Journal of South Texas, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, Chicana/Latina Studies, Oxford Bibliographies as well as in the anthologies Rewriting America and Scholars in COVID Times, edited by Melissa Castillo Planas and Debra A. Castillo, Cornell University Press (forthcoming, September 2023).|
|Maggie E. Morris Davis will be an Assistant Professor of English at Illinois State University in the fall of 2023. She earned her PhD in English from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her research focuses on class and childhood/youth and how, as social constructions, representations of these concepts enter not only our language, culture, and literatures, but also our classrooms, curricula, and pedagogy. She is most grateful for the generous support of a Kluge Fellowship from the Library of Congress to pursue archival research toward her project entitled "Finding the Child in the Federal Writers' Project".|
|Maureen Curtin is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at SUNY-Oswego. One time director of the university’s Gender & Women’s Studies program, Maureen teaches courses in feminist and queer theory, literary criticism, 20th c. literature, proletarian literature, and socialism. She published Out of Touch: Skin Tropes and Identities in Woolf, Ellison, Pynchon, and Acker (Routledge, 2003). She is currently working on a book entitled, "She was a cool one”: Recuperating Multiracial Class Struggle in Irish American Literature. Along with Michele Fazio, she is also co-editing Working through the Federal Writers’ Project: Labor, Place, Archive, and Representation.|
|James Sun is a historian, educator, and research analyst whose interest in Asian American history stems from both their Chinese-American identity growing up in Midwestern suburbia and a strong desire to learn more about the world around them. They co-authored two book chapters about Asian American writers for the New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project and authored an article about immigration during the Chinese Exclusion Era with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. At Yale University, they majored in Global Affairs and Statistics & Data Science, with a minor in Chinese. Their work involves researching about people from the Asian diaspora, teaching various disciplines, and mentoring students of all ages. Currently, they work at RMI, an environmental non-profit.|
|Greg Robinson is professor of history at l’Université du Québec à Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. A specialist in North American ethnic studies and US political history, he is the author of several notable books, including By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016). He writes regular columns for the San Francisco Nichi Bei News and for the blog Discover Nikkei. His most recent book is The Unsung Great: Stories of Extraordinary Japanese Americans (University of Washington Press, 2020).|
|Barbara Bair is a historian and curator of Literature, Culture, and the Arts in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. She oversees the U.S. Works Projects Administration Records manuscript collection, including records of the Federal Writers’ Project stemming from the American Guide (state guides) series, the Folklore project, the Slave Narratives project, and other special project records pertaining to sociocultural history and folkways, as well as the Ralph Ellison Papers and related collections. Collaborating with others across the many programs at the Library of Congress, she helps provide public and virtual events and collections outreach, exhibition content, digital humanities presentations, Indigenous community collaborations, teaching with primary documents, and crowd-sourcing transcription projects. Barbara holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in American Studies from Brown University, where she specialized in women’s and African American literature, U.S. cultural and labor studies, and art and public history. She is a documentary editor of projects in the areas of Black nationalism, Cherokee and popular culture history, and women’s history and the settlement house movement, and author of Though Justice Sleeps: African Americans 1880-1900 (Oxford University Press).|
|Roundtable III - Surveying the Contemporary Scene: Archival Resources In Creative Culture and Media Productions|
|Carole Emberton is a historian and author of the recent publication, To Walk About in Freedom: The Long Emancipation of Priscilla Joyner (W. W. Norton, 2022). Drawing upon Joyner’s interview and the interviews of other formerly enslaved people in the Federal Writers Project archives, Carole Emberton uncovers the deeply personal, emotional journeys of the people born into slavery, and who then walked into a new world of freedom after the Civil War. She is the author of Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War (University of Chicago Press, 2013), which received the Willie Lee Rose Prize for best book in southern history by the Southern Association of Women Historians. A National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar, she has published in the New York Times, History News Network, and the Washington Post. She is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), where she specializes in the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Currently, she is working on a new project that focuses on a mass lynching that took place in her hometown of Russellville, Kentucky, in 1908, and how its memory has shaped the lives of residents for more than a century.|
|C. Zawadi Morris is a journalist, founder of The Original Media Group, Original Media for Non-Profit and the publisher of The Brooklyn Reader (bkreader.com), a digital daily news site that covers Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Morris has worked as a teaching artist in Media Arts at Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation and is a board member of The Center for Black Literature. Ms. Morris is the founder of the COVID-19 Writers Project(C19WP), a multimedia initaiative that captures a hyperlocal viewpoint of the coronavirus pandemic from inside one of the virus’s hotspots– Brooklyn, NYC. Inspired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which spawned the Federal Writers Project (FWP), the C19WP presents first-person oral and written narratives of 30 Brooklyn residents through Zoom video interviews, essays and photography captured and compiled over a course of 6 months in 2020. Funded by National Geographic and The Pulitzer Center, C19WP examines the extent to which socio-economic outcomes are impacted by healthcare, education and race. C19WP has been turned into a student lesson plan by The Pulitzer Center. Ms. Morris has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. Most recently, Ms. Morris received the 2022 Brooklyn NAACP Freedom Star Award for her “contributions to the Black Brooklyn Community.“|
|Catherine Hiebert Kerst served as a Folklife Specialist (Archivist/Cataloger) at the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center for 27 years. She was trained as a folklorist and has experience in archival work, public sector cultural programming, reference services and educational outreach. During the past few years, Kerst has researched folk music collector Sidney Robertson Cowell’s 1938-40 WPA project, housed at the Library. Her book on the subject, California Gold: Sidney Robertson and the WPA California Folk Music Project is scheduled to be published by the University of California Press in association with the Library of Congress in the spring of 2024. At the American Folklife Center, Kerst developed the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus and served as coordinator of several symposia, including "Literatura de Cordel: Continuity and Change in Brazilian Popular Literature" (2011) and "Cultural Heritage Archives Symposium: Network, Innovation & Collaboration" (2013). In the 1990s, Kerst served as curator for the Iowa Program of the Festival of American Folklife at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In 2008, she received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach a seminar for MA Folklore students at the Center for Folklore Studies, University of Calicut, Kerala, India. Kerst received her MA in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a PhD through the Folklife Program, American Studies Department, at George Washington University.|
|David A. Taylor is the author of Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America (Wiley, 2009), which was ranked among Best Books of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as well as Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II (Johns Hopkins University Press). He was lead writer and co-producer of the Smithsonian Channel documentary film Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story (2009), which received a Writers Guild Award nomination. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, The American Scholar, and Oxford American. He is currently producing a podcast about the FWP with Spark Media and state humanities support called The People's Recorder (www.peoplesrecorder.info). He teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University.|
|Guha Shankar is Senior Folklife Specialist at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. At the Center he collaboratively develops a range of multi-media productions, documentary projects and public outreach initiatives. His work focuses on expressive cultural traditions, community life and social justice movements, such as the podcast series "Voices from the Days of Slavery: Stories, Songs and Memories," that draws upon New Deal-era archival recordings of formerly enslaved African Americans. He serves as co-director of the Civil Rights History Project, an initiative to document, preserve and provide access to born-digital oral histories with activists in the Black Freedom Struggle. Shankar is the coordinator of Ancestral Voices, a collections management and co-curation project undertaken in collaboration with indigenous communities. He also conducts workshops in ethnographic research methods and skills-based training in field documentation in a range of communities and institutions. Shankar earned his Ph.D. in 2003 from the Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, with a concentration in Folklore and Public Culture.|
|Roundtable IV - Surveying the Contemporary Scene: Public Humanities and Education|
|Deborah Mutnick is professor of English at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus. She is author of Writing in an Alien World: Basic Writing and the Struggle for Equality in Higher Education (Boynton/Cook 1996); and coeditor with Shannon Carter, Steven Parks, and Jessica Pauszek of Writing Democracy: The Political Turn in and Beyond the Trump Era (Routledge 2019); and coeditor with Margaret Cuonzo, Carole Griffiths, Timothy Leslie, and Jay Shuttleworth of The City Is an Ecosystem: Sustainable Education, Policy, and Practice (Routledge 2023). Her work has appeared in scholarly journals, including College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, and Community Literacy Journal, and numerous edited collections. She is the recipient of several National Endowment for the Humanities grants, including one for a 2021 Summer Institute for College and University Teachers on the New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project. Currently, she is completing a book about the enduring relevance of Richard Wright’s life and work to twenty-first century America and the wider world that became his second home.|
|Michele Fazio is Professor of English, director of the Pembroke Mellon REACH Program, and co-coordinator of the Gender Studies Minor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where she teaches courses on 20th century American literature, contemporary U.S. ethnic literature, and working-class studies using service-learning. Her film, Voices of the Lumbee (2014), received the Studs Terkel Award for Media and Journalism and the North Carolina Folklore Society Brown-Hudson Award. She has served as president of the Working-Class Studies Association and co-edited the Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies (2021). Her current book project explores the cultural legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti. Along with Maureen Curtin, she is also co-editing the proposed volume Working through the Federal Writers’ Project: Labor, Place, Archive, and Representation.|
|Anna F. Kaplan, PhD, is a scholar and oral historian in Washington, DC, who specializes in memory and public narratives about race in the US South. She is a Professorial Lecturer and Resident Public Historian at American University and serves as the President of the Board for Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region and a co-chair of the Oral History Association’s Diversity Committee and Equity Audit Task Force. Anna is also a recipient of a 2022-2023 OHA/NEH mini-grant in support of her research project highlighting how pivotal Black women’s labors were in establishing oral history programs and centers at institutions in the mid-20th century US. She is also working on her manuscript Left by the Wayside: The Struggle over Control of the Memory of the University of Mississippi’s Desegregation, which examines the use of memory to shape public narratives, challenging the notion that the University of Mississippi (UM) integrated in 1962 by reframing it as desegregation and the fight for integration as ongoing. She was a participant in the 2021 NEH Summer Institute “The New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project History, Politics, and Legacy,” and has worked on oral history and public history projects with the Department of State, National Park Service, the DC Oral History Collaborative, several Smithsonian Institution museums, and the US Golf Association Museum. Anna earned her PhD in History at American University and MA’s in Oral History and Anthropology at Columbia University.|
|Benji de la Piedra works on oral history projects and teaches oral history methodology in a variety of settings, including the University of the District of Columbia, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the DC Oral History Collaborative, Marin (Calif.) Academy, and the Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Community Museum. He is writing a biography of the Washington Post journalist Herbert Denton Jr., and directs the Herbert Denton Biography Project at UDC. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center for Scholars, carrying out independent scholarship on the worlds and work of Denton, Albert Murray, and Ralph Ellison. He is an active member of the Oral History Association, where he serves on the Diversity Committee, Equity Audit Task Force, Indigenous Caucus, and is co-chairing the organization's 2023 conference on "Oral History As/And Education." He received an M.A. in Oral History from Columbia University, NY.|
Books and Essays
Collections and Digital Resources:
United States. Work Projects Administration records, 1524-1975. Library of Congress Finding Aid.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938. Library of Congress Digital Collection.
California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell. Library of Congress Digital Collection.
Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942. Library of Congress Digital Collection.
Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection. Library of Congress Digital Collection.
Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories. Library of Congress Digital Collection.
Voices from the Days of Slavery: Stories, Songs and Memories. American Folklife Center Podcasts.
The Covid-19 Writers Project External. Zawadi Morris and Nigel Roberts.
Reading Slavery, Writing Freedom External. Betsy Bowen.
Audio & Video Recordings:
L'America Della Contestazione I Dischi del Sole, featuring Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, founder of the Deacons for Defense and Justice. Alessandro Portelli, editor/compiler, disc,1969
Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA External. Michael Maglaras, dir. 217 Films, Video, 2015.
"The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers at Woodson Regional Library in Chicago, Illinois". External C-Span2 Book TV, Chicago, 16 Nov. 2013.
Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story. External Andrea Kalin, dir. Smithsonian Networks, Video, 2010.
Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. Mark Jonathan Harris, dir. HBO; Video, 2004.