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"Embracing Joy: The Long Game for Literary Diversity" with Prof. Mat Johnson

Monday, April 24, 2023 at 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Erb Memorial Union (EMU), Redwood Auditorium
1395 University Street, Eugene, OR 97403

Recent events have shown the power of demanding immediate action in effecting positive social change. But in the long term, this same tactic can burn out activists and severely limit their effectiveness. For over 20 years, creative writing Professor Mat Johnson has been a mentor and advocate for increasing the BIPOC presence in American literature. After starting his own writing career in a publishing system that limited and constrained diversity, he made it his mission to make publishing more accessible to people of underrepresented communities and views. Decades later, his former students are among the most prominent writers in contemporary fiction, contributing to a far more diverse literary landscape. This talk will trace the history of the effort and identify how to utilize the keys to its success: perseverance, hope, and joy.

Mat Johnson is Professor and Philip H Knight Chair of Humanities in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon. His publications include the novels Invisible Things, Loving Day, and Pym, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the graphic novel Incognegro. Johnson is the recipient of the American Book Award, the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and the American Book Award.

This talk is part of the 2022-23 African American Workshop and Lecture Series.

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