Faculty Book Celebration March 3

National Book Award winner Charles Johnson to give keynote

Charles Johnson (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Acclaimed author, cartoonist, philosopher, screenwriter and essayist Charles Johnson, who won the 1990 National Book Award for his novel “Middle Passage,” will present the keynote address for the 2022 Faculty Book Celebration at Washington University in St. Louis.

Charles Johnson, from “Black Humor” (1970). An exhibition of Johnson’s papers is on view in Olin Library. (Photo: WashU Libraries)

Johnson, whose papers were acquired by Washington University Libraries in 2021, began his career as a political cartoonist, contributing to Ebony, Black World and other national outlets. He published his first collection, “Black Humor,” in 1970, at age 22. That same year, he launched “Charlie’s Pad,” a long-running series of cartooning lessons broadcast nationally on PBS. Last fall, Johnson was featured in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago exhibition “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now.”

Other books include the novels “Oxherding Tale,” “Faith and the Good Thing” and “Dreamer”; the story collections “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (nominated for a PEN/Faulkner award), “Soulcatcher and Other Stories” and “Dr. King’s Refrigerator and Other Bedtime Stories”; and works of philosophy and criticism such as “Being and Race: Black Writing Since 1970” and “Turning the Wheel: Essays on Buddhism and Writing.”

Johnson served as a writer and producer for the PBS family drama “Up and Coming” and has written or co-written more than a dozen screenplays. He received a MacArthur “genius award” Fellowship in 1998 and an American Academy of Arts and Letters award for literature in 2002. A longtime fiction editor for the Seattle Review, he is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington.

Faculty Book Celebration

Organized by the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences, the Faculty Book Celebration will include a keynote talk at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 3, in Umrath Hall Lounge.

Johnson’s talk, “Let Your Talent Be Your Guide,” will be preceded by presentations from Diana Montaño, assistant professor of history in Arts & Sciences, about her recent book “Electrifying Mexico: Technology and the Transformation of a Modern City”; and Julia Walker, chair of the Performing Arts Department and associate professor of English and of drama in Arts & Sciences, about her forthcoming “Performance and Modernity: Enacting Change on the Globalizing Stage.”

Johnson also will take part in a panel discussion with WashU faculty, “Reflections on Craft: Connecting Creative and Scholarly Practice,” at noon March 3 in Olin Library. An exhibition of Johnson’s papers, “The Magic in His Hands,” remains on view in Special Collections through April 3. In addition, view a virtual display of recent books and digital projects by Arts & Sciences faculty.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both the Faculty Book Celebration and the panel discussion will be staged in hybrid format. All are invited to attend virtually via Zoom, and members of the WashU community may attend in person, as seating allows. To register via Zoom, follow these links for the panel discussion and the book celebration. To register for in-person attendance at either event, follow this link.

For more information, visit humanities.wustl.edu.

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