Upcoming Event

Nell Irvin Painter at Harvard Book Store

presenting

I Just Keep Talking:
A Life in Essays

Date

May
3
Friday
May 3, 2024
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome NELL IRVIN PAINTER—Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita at Princeton University and New York Times bestselling author of The History of White People and Old in Art School—for a discussion of her new book I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays. She will be joined in conversation by FARAH STOCKMAN—Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of American Made.

About I Just Keep Talking

Throughout her prolific writing career, Nell Painter has published works on such luminaries as Sojourner Truth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Malcolm X. Her unique vantage on American history pushes the boundaries of personal narrative and academic authorship. Led by an unbridled curiosity for her subjects, Painter asks readers to reconsider ideas of race, politics, and identity. I Just Keep Talking assembles her writing for the first time into a single volume, displaying the breadth and depth of Painter’s decades-long historical inquiry and the evolution of Black political thought—and includes a dazzling introduction and coda being published for the first time in this collection. From her mining of figures like Carrie Buck and Martin Delaney for their resonance today, to a deep dive into the history of exclusion through the work of Toni Morrison, to a discussion of the American political landscape after the 2016 election, Painter nimbly portrays the trials of a country frequently at war with itself.

Along with Painter’s writing, this collection offers her original artwork, threaded throughout the book as counterpoint and emphasis. Her visual art shows a deft mind turning toward the tragedy and humor of her subjects; pulling from newspapers, personal records, and original sketches, Painter’s artwork testifies to the dialectic of tremendous change and stasis that continues to shape American history.

These essays resist easy answers in favor of complexity, the inescapable sense of our country’s potential thwarted by its failures. This collection will surely solidify Painter’s place among the finest critics and writers of the last half century.

Praise for I Just Keep Talking

"Nell Painter is one of the most important and versatile American historians of the last half century. This stunning array of essays…contains a potent autobiographical sizzle from introduction to the end…Prolific, provocative, and with a voice all her own, Painter reveals with admirable vulnerability a mind in transit through time." —David W. Blight, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

“Consistently brilliant, restlessly curious and profoundly empathetic, Nell Irvin Painter's voice is simply indispensable…With a historian's sense of context and a poet's gift of language she lays bare truths we've collectively ignored and points us toward the democratic possibilities we have yet to realize.” —Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia Journalism School and author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress

“Nell Painter is one of the most important, influential and prolific historians of the United States…readers will learn a great deal about the country and just as much about how to craft a life of purpose and joy.” —Imani Perry, National Book Award-winning author of South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Farah Stockman
Farah Stockman

Farah Stockman

Farah Stockman joined the New York Times editorial board in 2020 after covering politics, social movements, and race for the national desk. She previously spent sixteen years at the Boston Globe, nearly half of that time as the paper’s foreign policy reporter in Washington, D.C. She has reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Guantánamo Bay. She also served as a columnist and an editorial board member at the Globe. In 2016, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of columns about the efforts to desegregate Boston’s schools. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but also spends time in Michigan.

 

Nell Irvin Painter
Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University, is the author of books of history including the New York Times bestseller The History of White People; Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol; and the National Book Critics Circle finalist Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2007, she has received honorary degrees from Yale, Wesleyan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Dartmouth. After a Ph.D. in history from Harvard, she earned degrees in painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and the Rhode Island School of Design. Nell Painter lives and works in East Orange, New Jersey, and has made artists' books in residencies such as MacDowell, Yaddo, Ucross, and Bogliasco. She currently serves as Madame Chairman of MacDowell.

Photo Credit: Dwight Carter

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Mass Humanities creates opportunities for the people of Massachusetts to transform their lives and build a more equitable Commonwealth through the humanities. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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