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

The Great Reopening Debate

Chronicle of Higher Education

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


Remembering Bill Danforth

Remembering Bill Danforth

To say that Bill Danforth was a great man nearly goes without saying and seems a platitude without much meaning. What does it mean to be great, after all? In taking Bill’s measure, I think about Freedom and Fate, the poles around which all human lives orbit. Most of us keep them in a poor balance, misusing, abusing and wasting our freedom, cursing and railing against our fate. Bill kept such an equipoise of these Lords of our Life, an easy meshing of the exuberance of freedom and the acceptance of Fate.
What’s behind the NAACP travel warning for Missouri

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

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.


The Cambridge Companion to Boxing

The Cambridge Companion to Boxing

Boxing expert and American culture critic Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and director of the African and African American Studies department, edits this ultimate guide to one of the world’s most interesting and controversial sports. The Companion offers more than two dozen engaging and informative essays about the social impact and historical importance of the sport of boxing. While the book covers luminaries of the sport such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and more, it also tells the lesser known stories of boxing. There are essays on women in boxing, boxing and literature, boxing in Hollywood films, and boxing and opera. You can also get a comprehensive chronology of the sport, listing all of the important events and personalities.