Vanderbilt Magazine

Vanderbilt faculty, staff, alumni featured at 2022 Southern Festival of Books

photograph of Southern Festival of Books on War Memorial Plaza with state capitol in the background
Southern Festival of Books on War Memorial Plaza (courtesy of Humanities Tennessee)

Vanderbilt-related authors will have a strong presence at the 2022 Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word, which takes place at War Memorial Plaza and Nashville Public Library Oct. 14–16. The 34th annual festival is free and open to the public, and this marks the event’s return to downtown Nashville after two years of virtual programming.

The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities will offer a track based on this year’s theme of “Mending and Transforming.” In addition, discussions on six books published by Vanderbilt University Press are scheduled. VU Press and the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries will co-host a festival booth on War Memorial Plaza, where visitors will be able to browse discounted press books and learn about the latest offerings from the press and the libraries at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt-related talks include:

  • In Conversation: Alex Jahangir and Emily Mendenhall, on Oct. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. Dr. Alex Jahangir, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and former chair of the Metro Nashville COVID-19 Task Force, is the author of Hot Spot: A Doctor’s Diary From the Pandemic (Vanderbilt University Press, September 2022). Emily Mendenhall, professor of global health at Georgetown University, is the author of Unmasked: COVID, Community, and the Case of Okoboji (Vanderbilt University Press, March 2022). They will share informed perspectives on the pandemic and their careers.
  • In Conversation: Justin Jones, Chris Joyner and Thomas E. Ricks, on Oct. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. Jones, a Vanderbilt Divinity School student, is the author of The People’s Plaza: Sixty-Two Days of Nonviolent Resistance (Vanderbilt University Press, August 2022). The scholars and activists will discuss the fight for racial equality in the South, both in the past and the present. Megan Jordan, MA’19, doctoral student in sociology, will be the moderator.
  • Ada Calhoun, author of Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me, on Oct. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. Calhoun traces her fraught relationship with her father and their shared obsession with a great poet. Major Jackson, author of The Absurd Man, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English and director of creative writing, will be the moderator.
  • In Conversation: Lisa Dordal, John C. Mannone and Annette Sisson, on Oct. 14 from 1 to 2 p.m. Dordal, MDiv’05, MFA’11, is a writer-in-residence in the English department and author of Water Lessons. The three poets will discuss the art and science of poetry with themes of love, nature and more.
  • David Haskell, author of Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction, on 14 from 2 to 3 p.m. Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and author of Beyond Politics: The Private Governance Response to Climate Change, will be the moderator.
  • Major Jackson, author of A Beat Beyond: The Selected Prose of Major Jackson, on Oct. 14 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. In this collection of essays, interviews and notes, Jackson reveals and revels in the work of poetry not only to characterize and give access to the intellectual width and spiritual depth of poets, but also to amplify the controversies and inner conflicts that define our age.
  • In Conversation: Mary Laura Philpott, Silas House and Margaret Renkl, on Oct. 15 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Renkl is a Nashville-based contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and visiting writer for the Vanderbilt MFA program in creative writing. Her books include Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South. House is the author of Lark Ascending while Philpott’s latest work is Bomb Shelter: Love, Time and Other Explosives.
  • Gal Beckerman, author of The Quiet Before: On the Unexpected Origins of Radical Ideas and senior editor for books at The Atlantic, on Oct. 15 from 2 to 3 p.m. Shaul Kelner, associate professor of sociology and Jewish studies and author of Tours That Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage and Israeli Birthright Tourism, will be the moderator.
  • In Conversation: Margaret Burnham and Imani Perry, on Oct. 15 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. They will speak about their investigative work exploring Jim Crow laws and the devastating stories of those who lived it. Brandon Byrd, associate professor of history and author of The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti, will be the moderator.
  • In Conversation: Leigh Ann Gardner and Greg Melville, on Oct. 15 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Gardner is the author of To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead: African American Lodges and Cemeteries in Tennessee (Vanderbilt University Press, February 2022) and grants manager of the Medical Scientist Training Program at VUMC.
  • In Conversation: Kristen Green and Ben Raines, on Oct. 16 from noon to 1 p.m. They will discuss how history is being properly rewritten through stories of women who freed slave jails and the discovery of the last slave ship bound for North America. Danyelle Valentine, senior lecturer in gender and sexuality studies, will be the moderator.
  • In Conversation: Aaron Deter-Wolf, James Hoobler and Tanya Peres, on Oct. 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. They are co-authors of Mastodons to Mississippians: Adventures in Nashville’s Deep Past (Vanderbilt University Press, August 2021).
  • In Conversation: Lydia Conklin, Z. Zane McNeill and Casey Parks, on Oct. 16 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Conklin, assistant professor of English, is the author of Rainbow Rainbow: Stories. Stephanie Mahnke, director of the K.C. Potter Center and LGBTQI Life, will be the moderator.
  • Chris Crofton, author of The Advice King Anthology (Vanderbilt University Press, April 2022), on Oct. 16 from 3 to 4 p.m.

Several Vanderbilt alumni who are published authors will participate in the sessions, including Frye Gaillard, BA’68; Andrew Maraniss, BA’92; and Destiny Birdsong, MA’07, MFA’09, PhD’12.