Convocation with Jesmyn Ward

22 April 2022
Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward, who has been called “the new Toni Morrison,” has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her fearless and toughly lyrical voice in novels, memoir, and nonfiction. A MacArthur Genius, in 2017 she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction — joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike.

Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. Her experiences growing up poor and Black in the South continue to influence her work. As she said in her acceptance speech at the 2011 National Book Awards, “I understood that I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor, and the Black and the rural people of the South, so that the culture that marginalized us for so long would see that our stories were as universal, our lives as fraught and lovely and important, as theirs.” 

This visit was organized by the English Department with assistance from the Light Lecture and co-sponsored by the Lucas Lecture and American Studies.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to contractual restrictions there will be no posted video of this Convocation.