Woody Guthrie, the Left, and the Politics of Intimacy

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Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Thursday, January 13, 20224:00PM - 5:30PMOnline Event, Online Event
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Gustavus Stadler’s Woody Guthrie: An Intimate Life is a new biography of the storied folk singer and icon of the Popular Front Left, one that does the work of disentangling him from myth and setting him down amid the messy, contradictory, human struggles of his day: “an expansive and strikingly unique portrait,” as the Los Angeles Review of Books recently put it, “of a man, not of an immortal legend.” The book also functions as a kind of intimate history of the Left, tracking the definitive importance for Guthrie of a series of dilemmas — about illness and shame, pain and joy as they are experienced through the body, intimacy as a crucible for solidarity — that suggest a greater continuity between Old and New Lefts than we are used to acknowledging.

Join us for a conversation about the book, these issues, and more, between Stadler and eminent historian of U. S. music David Suisman.

—Speaker Bios—
Gustavus Stadler is William R. Kenan Professor and Chair of English at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, where he directs the John B. Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities. In addition to Woody Guthrie: An Intimate Life (Beacon Press, 2020), he is the author of Troubling Minds: The Cultural Politics of Genius in the U. S. 1840-1890 (U of Minnesota Press, 2006). He has published essays on U. S. literature, music, and politics in such venues as Al Jazeera, Public Books, Avidly.com, and Social Text.

David Suisman is associate professor of history at the University of Delaware, where he specializes in cultural history, the history of music, sound studies, war and society, and the history of capitalism. His books include Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Harvard University Press, 2009), recipient of numerous awards and honors, and Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), co-edited with Susan Strasser. His articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of American History, Social Text, Radical History Review, The Believer, American Historical Review, Journal of Social History, and other publications. From 2010 to 2021, he was associate editor and book review editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies. A sometime disc jockey at freeform radio station WFMU, he lives in Philadelphia.


Mio Otsuka


Gustavus Stadler
William R. Kenan Professor and Chair of English, Haverford College

David Suisman
Associate Professor of History, University of Delaware

Nicholas Sammond
Opening Remarks
Director, Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto

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