Next week, UNC Greensboro will receive a visit from esteemed author Colson Whitehead.
His best-known work, “The Underground Railroad,” has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction and countless other prizes and honors.
Whitehead’s research for his novel included slave narratives such as that of Harriet Jacobs, scholarly work, historical dictionaries, seminal works of fiction such as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and a remarkable online resource that was created at UNCG and is part of the Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Collections: the Digital Library on American Slavery. Throughout “The Underground Railroad,” Whitehead placed images of runaway slave advertisements that are part of the digital library, giving the fictional work a grounded link to American history.
In an interview at the Miami Book Fair that appeared on CSPAN2, Whitehead explained, “I definitely mix and match and move things around, and I think that allowed me not to make the book just about slavery or the Underground Railroad but rather about American history and race, and different ideas about how race has changed over time.”
Whitehead will speak at the UNCG Music Building’s Recital Hall on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. as part of the University Concert and Lecture Series (UCLS). This special 125th anniversary lecture is booked to capacity, but there will be a simulcast in the Collins Lecture Hall (Room 217). Reservations for the simulcast are required and available on a first-come, first-serve basis by calling 336-272-0160.
During the event, UNCG Libraries will display an exhibition related to the Underground Railroad and the Digital Library of American Slavery in the Music Building atrium. Earlier in the day, Whitehead will also meet with a group of students for a discussion led by Associate Professor of English Noelle Morrissette.
This spring, UNCG and the Weatherspoon Art Museum will host several other events that relate to the theme of the Underground Railroad:
- Noon-Time Talk: Documenting Slavery and Freedom with Gwen Gosney Erickson, Guilford College archivist and librarian, and Richard Cox, UNCG digital technology consultant, Feb. 21, 12 p.m., at the Weatherspoon Art Museum.
- Book Discussion of Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” in conjunction with the exhibition of work by Sanford Biggers, with UNCG Associate Professor of English Noelle Morrissette, March 1, 7 p.m. with pre-talk reception at 6:30 p.m., at the Weatherspoon Art Museum.
- Sanford Biggers, Falk Visiting Artist exhibition on view at the Weatherspoon Art Museum now through April 8. Biggers will come to UNCG March 15 to give a talk at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at 7 p.m.
Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Book cover courtesy of Colson Whitehead
Photography by Madeline Whitehead