5 Essential Reads for American Masters Fans

Louis Armstrong 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!

A Last Look at Ebony’s Archives, Before They’re Sold Julie Bosman

The New York Times July 16th 2019

On July 24th, the archive of four million prints and negatives produced for Ebony and Jet Magazines was purchased by a group of foundations who will donate the archival materials to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute. Prior to the auction in “A Last Look at Ebony’s Archives, Before They’re Sold,” the New York Times reflected on the importance of the archive and historians fear that the collection could have been sold to private collector, limiting the public’s access to the most significant collections of photographs depicting African-American life. This article reproduces many intimate photos from the collection of Josephine Baker, Muhammad Ali, Thurgood Marshall, Nat King Cole and more.

We Need to Talk About the Aches and Pains of Nonfiction Emma Goldberg

The Los Angeles Review of Books, Blog July 3rd 2019

In this essay, Emma Goldberg, an essayist, explores the tension of publishing non-fiction. For a non-fiction writer, it can be extremely rewarding to know that your personal experience through prose can heal other people. At the same time, it is extremely tiring for non-fiction writers to open their life and personhood up to criticism, analysis, and discussion.

How Social Media is Allowing for Illegal Antiquities Trafficking Michael Press

Hyperallergic July 11th2019

This past month, a sculpture of King Tut was sold at auction for almost $6 million dollars; this sculpture was believed to have been looted and the Egyptian government is now trying to recover it. While major stolen artifacts make the news, the majority of looted antiquities are actually small artifacts like coins and jewelry, which often go unnoticed. Exploring a newly published report by The Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project, author Michael Press discusses the role of Facebook and other social media sites on the widespread sale of looted West Asian antiquities.

The Aesthetic Beauty of Math Karen Olsson

The Paris Review July 22nd 2019

In “The Aesthetic Beauty of Math,” Karen Olsson examines the writings of two 20th century mathematicians – André Weil and G. H. Hardy – on the topic of math’s aesthetic appeal. Both Weil and Hardy argued that math is inherently beautiful through its abstractions, patterns and emotional satisfaction.

An Eight-Second Film of 1915 New Orleans and the Mystery of Louis Armstrong’s Happiness Gwen Thompkins

The New Yorker July 8th 2019

Author Gwen Thompkins asks the question: was Louis Armstrong genuinely happy or was he pretending to be happy for white audiences? Thompkins examines the scholarly research around an eight-second film that features Louis Armstrong in his childhood for clues to Armstrong’s true temperament. For more on Louis Armstrong, check out American Masters – Satchmo: The Life of Louis Armstrong