Gerald Early

Professor of English; Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters

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Early is the editor of several volumes, including This is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s (2003); The Sammy Davis, Jr., Reader (2001); The Muhammad Ali Reader (1998); Body Language: Writers on Sport (1998); Speech and Power (1993); Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation (1993); and My Soul’s High Song: The Collected Works of Countee Cullen (1991). Professor Early is the author of The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Other works are One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture (1994); Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood (1994); and Tuxedo Junction (1989).

WashU in the News

Black Like Me, 50 Years Later


Gerald Early, professor of English and African and African-American studies, and the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters


What’s behind the NAACP travel warning for Missouri

Missouri may be the borderline reality, the psychic edge, emblematic of the deeply divided American mind itself. The shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, at the hands of police in 2014 and the violent disorder that resulted from it seem to have both traumatized and energized those of us who live here, radicalized and retrenched us.

Diversifying the scholarship

Founded in 1969, the African and African-American Studies program at Washington University in St. Louis was among the nation’s first. This spring, the university will mark a new chapter when the program becomes a full department within Arts & Sciences.

Filmmaker Ken Burns to deliver Washington University’s Commencement address May 15

Ken Burns, director and producer of some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, has been selected to give the 2015 Commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. Wrighton made the announcement to the Class of 2015 during the annual senior class toast Thursday, April 2, in the Danforth University Center. Commencement is Friday, May 15.

Introducing The Common Reader

Smart writing on timely topics for the widest possible audience. This is the mission of The Common Reader, a new journal launched this fall by Gerald Early. Early and Managing Editor Ben Fulton discuss The Common Reader, online journalism and the continuing value of ink and paper.

Gerald Early’s remembrances of Maya Angelou

Noted American essayist and culture critic Gerald L. Early, PhD, has fond remembrances of when he introduced Maya Angelou before one of her three speaking engagements at Washington University in St. Louis. She delivered talks in Graham Chapel in 1981, 1984 and 1990.