American Masters Reader: December 2018

Harper Lee

Harper Lee

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 six articles and essays we enjoyed in December.

Let us know what you’re reading (below) or shoot us an email at!

The Contested Legacy of Atticus Finch Casey Cep

The New Yorker December 17th 2018

This summer, To Kill a Mockingbird was voted America’s most beloved book on the PBS Series The Great American Read and this week, a theatrical adaption of Mockingbird premiered on Broadway. In this context, author Casey Cep revisits the novel’s protagonist Atticus Finch: is he a timeless literary hero or just a hero to his daughter Scout? For more on To Kill A Mockingbird, check out American Masters — Harper Lee: Hey Boo.

Black Male Writers for Our Time Ayana Mathis, Creative Direction by Boots Riley

T Magazine November 30th 2018

In this essay and short film, author Ayana Mathis and filmmaker Boots Riley highlight prominent contemporary American black male poets, playwrights, and novelists while providing the historical context of their work. The short film features voice-over quotations from American Masters Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou.

The Sufferings of Nietzsche Morten Høi Jensen

The Los Angeles Review of Books December 5th 2018

Over 100 years after his death, Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy and writings remain at the forefront of contemporary discussions of politics and culture. Author Morten Høi Jensen dives into Nietzsche’s later life, exploring the rift between the sickly, unimposing person of  Nietzsche and his bold, controversial works.

Is Rap Finally Ready to Embrace Its Women? Briana Younger

The New Yorker December 7th 2018

In “Is Rap Finally Ready to Embrace Its Women?,” author Briana Younger argues that women in Hip Hop are creating their own space in the genre through internet platforms such as Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, and Instagram. The internet allows female MCs to make music they want to make without the marketing and persona-creation that accompanies a traditional record deal.

Political Poetry Is Hot Again. The Poet Laureate Explores Why, and How Tracy K. Smith

The New York Times December 10th 2018

In this essay, Tracy K. Smith — the current American Poet Laureate — explores the shift in American poetry in the decade following 9/11. Smith examines how poets have utilized movement and physicality to break from the tradition of tranquil apolitical American poetry. For more on Tracy K. Smith, check out her interview on the American Masters Podcast.

Reimagining the Southern Canon Inman Majors

Blog at The Los Angeles Review of Books December 1st 2018

In “Reimagining the Southern Canon,” author Inman Major explores how Southern Gothic literature has eclipsed more nuanced southern literature (exemplified by James Agee) in the Southern Canon. A professor at James Madison University, Major offers a few examples of works he’d like to see taught and included in contemporary southern literary surveys.