Thursday, November 16, 2017
It is 1964, and the Civil Rights Act has just passed. "Nothing Personal," a much anticipated photo-book that combined the talents of photographer Richard Avedon and writer James Baldwin, appears with much fanfare. But the major issue of the day—the struggle toward integration—is nowhere mentioned in it. New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als will explore the dimensions of this complicated, nearly dismissed work.
Hilton Als began contributing to The New Yorker in 1989, and became a staff writer in 1994, theater critic in 2002, and lead theater critic in 2012 and brings a rigorous, sharp, and lyrical perspective on acting, playwriting, and directing. With his deep knowledge of the history of performance—not only in theater but in dance, music, and visual art—he demonstrates how to view a production, how to place its director, its author, and its performers in the ongoing continuum of dramatic art. His reviews are provocative contributions to the discourse on theater, race, class, sexuality, and identity in America.
Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. Als edited the catalogue for the 1994-95 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art.” His first book, The Women, was published in 1996. His most recent book, White Girls, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2014 and winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Non-fiction, discusses various narratives of race and gender. He also wrote the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Early Stories of Truman Capote.
Among numerous accolades, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment in 1997. He was awarded a Guggenheim for creative writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002-03. In 2016, he received Lambda Literary’s Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature. In 2017, Als won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College.
Professor Hilton Als’ Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' Lerner Lectureship in 1960s' Culture Fund.
Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe