5 Essential Reads for American Masters Fans

Toni Morrison via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout our broadcast season, American Masters tells the stories of cultural giants whose work has had a profound effect on American society. The American Masters team is pleased to share a curated selection of the latest discourse in arts and culture: here are five articles and essays we enjoyed recently.

Let us know what you’re reading (below) or shoot us an email at AMMasters@thirteen.org!

What Should an Artist Save? Thessaly La Force

T: The New York Times Style Magazine August 6th 2019

In “What Should an Artist Save?,” Thessaly La Force explores the idea of archiving artists’ personal effects so they can be cataloged and analyzed separately from the artists’ works themselves. But, what is important enough to be archived and what is simply ephemera? La Force considers how each archived item helps to determine the historical narrative around an artist’s life but even a perfectly preserved archive doesn’t tell us everything.

Toni Morrison’s Truth Hilton Als

The New Yorker August 8th, 2019

Written by Toni Morrison’s friend, New Yorker critic, and professor Hilton Als, “Toni Morrison’s Truth” is a reflection on Toni Morrison’s life through Als’s personal relationship with Morrison, anecdotes about Morrison’s biography, and excerpts from Morrison’s novels Sula and Beloved. Als uses this obituary essay to explore the complexity of Toni Morrison’s writing and depth of Toni Morrison as an individual. For more on Toni Morrison, look out for the upcoming American Masters Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am airing on PBS in 2020.

A New Definition of “Museum” Sparks International Debate Zachary Small

Hyperallergic August 19th, 2019

The International Council of Museums created a commission to re-define “museum” for the 21st century: this August, the commission announced its new definition. This new, lengthy definition of a “museum” focuses on cultural democracy, equality, and social justice as the principal functions of a museum space. This description has divided the over 40,000 members of the International Council of Museums along ideological lines with many members of the Council asking for a completely new commission. What do you think of the new definition?

How to Actually Listen to Music Rachel Ament

The Paris Review August 22nd, 2019

We often think of listening to music as a passive activity; music in many situations is pleasant background noise. Framing the complexity of music and composition, author Rachel Ament investigates how to listen to music like a scholar by focusing on genre, motion, tone, and lyrics.

Building Virtual Worlds Is a New Form of Self-Expression Clive Thompson

Wired August 20th, 2019

Over the past decade, the accessibility of complicated 3D digital software has swiftly expanded, allowing amateurs of all ages to try their hand at creating virtual worlds. Clive Thompson looks at the rise of virtual reality creation in programs such as Dreams and Minecraft and asks if virtual media is the future of self-expression.