Emory authors shine at the Decatur Book Festival
Tens of thousands of book lovers are expected to visit Decatur during Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, for the 2019 AJC Decatur Book Festival, presented by Emory University.
Once here, they’ll find a schedule full of public readings, panel discussions, book signings and other literary activities for all ages.
The weekend will include more than 20 Emory faculty participating in sessions. Emory faculty and alumni authors will also visit the Emory University tent during the festival to sign books and greet fans.
Emory is a longtime supporter of the event, but further solidified its commitment by becoming the presenting sponsor in 2018.
“Each year, Emory proves to be one of the best possible partners for the festival,” says Julie Wilson, executive director of the AJC Decatur Book Festival. “Both organizations share a commitment to humanities and discovering and imparting knowledge. Those shared ideals are helping us shape the festival to offer an even wider array of programming that sparks curiosity and understanding.”
Don't miss the following events featuring Emory authors and experts as presenters and moderators. You can also view the full festival schedule.
Friday, Aug. 30
Keynote: "Effecting Change in a Changing World: Latinx Writers on Immigration"
Aug. 30, 8 p.m., Emory’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts
Once again, Emory hosts the festival’s opening keynote, with the topic this year focusing on immigration.
Richard Blanco, the fifth person in U.S. history selected to write and deliver an inaugural poem, will be joined by Rigoberto González, author of 17 books of poetry and prose, and Gabriela Baeza Ventura, executive editor of Arte Publico Press.
The panel will discuss Latinx writing and immigration, the power of literature to effect change, who gets to call a country home, and the value of providing opportunities for uncensored expression. Mariela Romero, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist from Univision Atlanta, will moderate the discussion.
The keynote address is free but tickets are required (limit two per person). Tickets are available through the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Visit or call the Schwartz Center box office (404-727-5050) or order online by visiting tickets.arts.emory.edu.
Saturday, Aug. 31
Reflecting on Howard Thurman and St. Francis
David B. Gowler, Pierce Chair of Religion at Oxford College of Emory University
Aug. 31, 10-10:45 a.m., First Baptist Church Decatur, Carreker Hall
Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was one of the finest thinkers and most influential preachers of his era. Yet his influence goes far beyond the impact he made on Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the freedom struggle.
Co-editors Kipton Jensen and David Gowler discuss their book “Howard Thurman: Sermons on the Parables,” a collection of 15 of Thurman’s unpublished sermons on the parables of Jesus. April Love Fordham also will be part of the session, presenting her book “St. Francis and the Christian Life: A Disorderly Parable of the Epistle to the Galatians.”
The Millionaire Was a Soviet Mole: The Twisted Life of David Karr
Harvey Klehr, Andrew Mellon Professor Emeritus of Politics and History; former chairman, political science
Aug. 31, 10-10:45 a.m., Marriott Conference Center A
David Karr reinvented himself numerous times: muckraking columnist, moviemaker, hotel executive, arms smuggler, visionary deal-maker, protector of Jewish immigrants from Russia, behind-the-scenes political fixer … and KGB spy.
Karr died suddenly and mysteriously in 1979. With three ex-wives, one widow, five children, an outdated will and millions of dollars in assets, Karr’s estate took a decade to unravel. Harvey Klehr’s book “The Millionaire Was a Soviet Mole” aims to unravel the perplexing question of whose side Karr was on during his tumultuous career.
Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York
Carl Suddler, assistant professor of history
Aug. 31, 11:15 a.m.-12 p.m., Marriott Conference Center A
Carl Suddler believes that a stark disparity exists between black and white youth experiences in today’s justice system, and studies ways to develop better understandings of the consequences of inequity in the United States. In “Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York,” he brings to light a long history of the policies and strategies that tethered the lives of black youths to the justice system indefinitely.
Transformation and the Discovery of Self and Community
Michael Shutt, senior director for community
Aug. 31, 12:30-1:15 p.m., Marriott Conference Center A
Michael Shutt has served in several capacities as part of Emory’s Campus Life leadership team since joining the university in 2008. He will moderate this session which includes Emory alumna and GLAAD-Award winning journalist Samantha Allen (“Real Queer America”) and author Jacob Tobia (“Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story”).
Treasures in Earthen Vessels: Three Memoirs
Christine Ristaino, senior lecturer, French and Italian studies
Aug. 31, 1:45-2:30 p.m., Decatur City Hall
Christine Ristaino discusses her memoir “All the Silent Spaces,” which takes an unflinching look at violence and the journey of reclaiming a life after a tragic event unveils a horrific family secret. She not only narrates how this event changed her but also tells how looking at the event through both the reactions of her community and her own sensibility allowed her to finally face two other violent episodes she had previously experienced.
Ristaino will be joined by authors Eva Hagberg Fisher (“How to Be Loved”) and Beverly Willet (“Disassembly Required”).
Translation, An Art In and Of Itself
Lisa Dillman, senior lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese
Aug. 31, 3-3:45 p.m., Marriott Conference Center Auditorium
Lisa Dillman has won numerous awards for her work as a translator, including the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for her translation of Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World” and the Oxford Weidenfeld Prize for her translation of Andrés Barba’s “Such Small Hands” in 2018. She is currently working on “Dog,” a novel by Colombian writer Pilar Quintana, and “The El Bordo Mine Fire” by Yuri Herrera.
Join Dillman and Andrea Jurjevic (“Mamasafari” and “Dead Letter Office”) as they discuss the art of translation.
One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy
Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor; chair, African American studies
Aug. 31, 4:15-5 p.m., Decatur Presbyterian Church Sanctuary
With “One Person, No Vote,” Carol Anderson chronicles changes to African American voting participation since the 2013 Supreme Court decision regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She follows the story of racial discrimination unfolding as states adopt voter suppression laws and explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.
Emory as Place: Meaning in a University Landscape
Gary S. Hauk, university historian
Aug. 31, 5:30-6:15 p.m., Marriott Conference Center C
The history of a university resides not only in its archives but also in the place itself — the walkways and bridges, the libraries and classrooms, the gardens and creeks. To think of Emory as place is not only to consider its geography and architecture but also to imagine how the external, constructed world can cultivate an internal world of wonder, purpose and responsibility.
“Emory as Place” offers evidence of how landscape and population have shaped each other through the decades and how thinking of Emory as place suggests a way to get at the core meaning of a modern research institution.
Celebrating James H. Cone
- Dianne Stewart, associate professor, Religion and African American Studies
- Elizabeth Bounds, associate professor, Christian ethics
- Letitia Campbell, assistant professor, practice of ethics and society; director, contextual education I and clinical pastoral education; senior program coordinator, Laney Legacy Program in Moral Leadership
Aug. 31, 5:30-6:15 p.m., First Baptist Church Decatur Sanctuary
In this session moderated by Letitia Campbell, panelists reflect on the life and legacy of James H. Cone, known as “the father of black liberation theology.” Decades after his groundbreaking “Black Theology and Black Power” (1969) and “A Black Theology of Liberation” (1970), Cone’s masterpiece “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” (2011) won him new audiences in the age of #BlackLivesMatter, as well as the prestigious 2018 Grawemeyer Award.
Dianne Stewart and Elizabeth Bounds will join other students and colleagues of Cone (Dwayne Meadows, Jacquelyn Grant and Raphael Warnock) to discuss his impact as a teacher, mentor and colleague, and the meaning of his work today.
Sunday, Sept. 1
Reading Indigenous Stories Against the Grain
Mandy Suhr-Sytsma, lecturer in English and director, Emory Writing Center
Sept. 1, 12-12:45 p.m., Marriott Conference Center Auditorium
The first book of its kind, Mandy Suhr-Sytsma's “Self-Determined Stories: The Indigenous Reinvention of Young Adult Literature” reads indigenous-authored YA—from school stories to speculative fiction—not only as a vital challenge to stereotypes but also as a rich intellectual resource for theorizing indigenous sovereignty in the contemporary era.
Suhr-Sytsma and Gina Caison (“Red States, Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, and Southern Studies”) discuss how we can read indigenous stories against the grain.
High Five for Food!
Tanya Valentine, interview and events manager, Goizueta Business School
Sept. 1, 12:45-1:15 p.m., Children’s Stage at Decatur Recreation Center
This fun session will focus on three delicious picture books. Adam Rubin, co-creator of the popular “Dragons Love Tacos” and the brand new “High Five!” is joined by local authors Aisha Saeed ("Bilal Cooks Daal") and Tanya Valentine ("Little Taco Truck") to dish about their books.
Deboleena Roy, professor, Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (chair) and neuroscience and behavioral biology program
Sept. 1, 1:15-2 p.m., Marriott Conference Center C
“Should feminists clone?” “What do neurons think about?” “How can we learn from bacterial writing?”
These and other questions have long preoccupied Deboleena Roy. In “Molecular Feminisms,” she brings insights from feminist theory together with lessons learned from bacteria, subcloning and synthetic biology, arguing that renewed interest in matter and materiality must be accompanied by a feminist rethinking of scientific research methods and techniques.
Southern Conservatism and Its Impact on Today's Politics
Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of American History
Sept. 1, 1:15-2 p.m., First Baptist Church Decatur Carreker Hall
In his book “Atticus Finch: The Biography,” historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee’s father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. When a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions.
Crespino and fellow historian and author Kevin M. Kruse (“White Flight”) discuss the South’s history of segregation, southern conservatism and the impact of each on today’s politics.
Read more: “Who was Atticus Finch?”
Moral Machines: How Is AI Pushing Our Ethical Boundaries?
- John Banja, professor, rehabilitation medicine; medical ethicist, Center for Ethics
- Paul Root Wolpe, Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Research Professor of Jewish Bioethics; professor of medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry and sociology; director, Center for Ethics
Sept. 1, 1:15-2 p.m., Decatur City Hall
Remarkable advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we do business, diagnose disease and even relate to one another. But the development of AI is also fraught with unprecedented challenges. How will we build fairness and equity into AI models? How will we make certain they will be accurate, trustworthy and unbiased? Can AI programs be protected from cyberterrorists and hackers? As AI surpasses human intelligence and capabilities, how do we ensure that we continue to control AI, rather than the other way around?
John Banja and Nassim Parvin will discuss these and other challenges that AI poses to society and ponder the ethical dilemmas that AI poses to us all. Moderated by Paul Root Wolpe.
Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism
Nichole Renée Phillips, assistant professor of sociology, religion and culture, Candler School of Theology
Sept. 1, 1:15-2 p.m., Marriott Conference Center B
“Patriotism Black and White” investigates the relationship between patriotism and civil religion in a politically populist community of black and white evangelicals in rural Tennessee. By measuring the effort to remember national sacrifice, Nichole Renée Phillips probes deeply into how patriotism funds civil religion in light of two changes to America: the election of its first black president and the initiation of the War on Terror.
Poetry Reading: Jericho Brown, Lauren K. Alleyne
Jericho Brown, Winship Distinguished Research Professor in Creative Writing; director, creative writing program
Sept. 1, 2:30-3:15 p.m., Decatur Presbyterian Church Sanctuary
In his new work, “The Tradition,” Jericho Brown’s poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship and trauma are propelled into clarity by his mastery. His invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal and the blues—is testament to his formal skill. “The Tradition” is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.
Brown and Lauren Alleyne, author of “Honeyfish,” will each read from their new collections.
Read more: “Poet & Professor”
Metaphor and Its Impact on Life
- Laura Otis, professor of English
- Robyn Fivush, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology
Sept. 1, 2:30-3:15 p.m., Historic DeKalb Courthouse
Neuroscientist-turned-literary scholar Laura Otis uses metaphor as a vehicle for understanding the cultural and religious roots of emotion in novels, self-help books and popular films in her book “Banned Emotions.” Otis and New York Times bestselling author James Geary (“I Is An Other”) discuss their shared interest in metaphor and its role in our lives. Robyn Fivush moderates the session.
Read more: “Otis explores the science of creative thought”
Lillian Smith Book Awards
Vanessa Siddle Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American and Educational Studies
Sept. 1, 2:30-3:15 p.m., Decatur Library
The Lillian Smith Book Awards honor the social justice activist and highly-acclaimed author of “Strange Fruit” and “Killers of the Dream.” Vanessa Siddle Walker is one recipient of the 2018 Lillian Smith Book Awards for “The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools.”
Other awardees Virginia Eubanks (“Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor”) and Rachel Devlin (“A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America’s Schools”) also will be honored.
Race and the Obama Administration
Andra Gillespie, associate professor, political science
Sept. 1, 3:45-4:30 p.m., Marriott Conference Center A
The election of Barack Obama marked a critical point in American political and social history. Did the historic election of a black president actually change the status of blacks in the United States? Did these changes (or lack thereof) inform blacks’ perceptions of the president? Andra Gillespie discusses her book, which compares Obama’s promotion of substantive and symbolic initiatives for blacks to efforts by the two previous presidential administrations.
Rabi’a from Narrative to Myth: The Many Faces of Islam's Most Famous Woman, Rabi'a al-Adayiyya
Rkia Elaroui Cornell, professor, pedagogy; coordinator, Arabic program
Sept. 1, 3:45-4:30 p.m., Decatur City Hall
Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya is a figure shrouded in myth. A woman by this name was born in Basra, Iraq, in the eighth century, but her life remains recorded only in legends, stories, poems and hagiographies. The various depictions of her—as a deeply spiritual ascetic, an existentialist rebel and a romantic lover—seem impossible to reconcile, yet she has transcended these narratives to become a global symbol of both Sufi and modern secular culture.
Rkia Elaroui Cornell traces the development of these diverse narratives and provides a history of the iconic Rabi’a’s construction as a Sufi saint.
Believers: Faith in Human Nature
Melvin Konner, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, anthropology and neuroscience and behavioral biology
Sept. 1, 5-5:45 p.m., Marriott Conference Center A
“Believers” is a scientist’s answer to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers. It is a firm rebuke of the “Four Horsemen”—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens—known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimately harmful.
Anthropologist Melvin Konner, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew but has lived his adult life without such faith, explores the psychology, development, brain science, evolution and even genetics of the varied religious impulses we experience as a species.
Read more: “Konner to deliver 2019 Distinguished Faculty Lecture”
Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves
Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor, psychology; director, Living Links Center
Sept. 1, 5-5:45 p.m., First Baptist Church Decatur Sanctuary
Frans de Waal has spent four decades at the forefront of animal research. “Mama’s Last Hug” delivers a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals, with stories supporting de Waal’s argument that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy, disgust and empathy.
De Waal discusses facial expressions, the emotions behind human politics, the illusion of free will, animal sentience and more. The message opens our hearts and minds to the many ways in which humans and other animals are connected, transforming how we view the living world around us.
Read more: “Sign of empathy: Bonobos comfort friends in distress”
Faculty & Alumni Book Signings
Authors and activities at the Emory tent
Festival goers can stop by the Emory tent to enjoy even more activities on Saturday and Sunday. The Emory tent is Booth 500 at the corner of Clairemont and East Ponce. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 12-6 p.m. Sunday.
Highlights will include:
- Book signings by Emory faculty, staff and alumni
- Information about many of the university’s programs, from Arts at Emory and the Center for Digital Scholarship to the Michael C. Carlos Museum and the Center for Ethics
- Books for sale through Barnes & Noble at Emory
- Interactive activities with Emory Healthcare such as complimentary blood pressure checks, a fitness prize wheel and an opportunity to win sports tickets
- The Emory Libraries and Carlos Museum Art Corner, where guests of all ages can participate in a fan coloring project based on a piece of art from the Carlos collection, “Bowl with Bird Motifs,” and two drawings, “Emory Dreamer” and “Emory Flyer,” designed by rising Emory senior Veronica Paltaratskaya.
- A color wall for kids
- A chance to meet “Lib-E,” the Emory Libraries robot who will be mingling with guests
Faculty book signings
Saturday, Aug. 31
Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence will host book signings by Emory authors throughout the weekend at the Emory tent.
- 12 p.m. – David Gowler, Pierce Professor of Religion, “Howard Thurman: Sermons on the Parables”
- 1 p.m. – Harvey Klehr, Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of Political Science, “The Millionaire was a Soviet Mole: The Twisted Life of David Karr”
- 1:30 p.m. – Lisa Dillman, senior lecturer in Spanish and translator, “Such Small Hands” by Andrés Barba
- 2 p.m. – Vanessa Siddle Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American and Educational Studies, “The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools”
- 3 p.m. – Gary Hauk, university historian, “Emory as Place: Meaning in a University Landscape”
- 3:30 p.m. – Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies, “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy”
- 4 p.m. – Christine Ristaino, senior lecturer in Italian, “All the Silent Spaces: A Memoir”
- 4:30 p.m. – Carl Suddler, assistant professor of history, “Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York”
Sunday, Sept. 1
- 12 p.m. – Deboleena Roy, associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies and neuroscience and behavioral biology, “Molecular Feminisms: Biology, Becomings, and Life in the Lab,” and Melvin Konner, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology, “Believers: Faith in Human Nature”
- 1 p.m. – Jericho Brown, Winship Research Professor in Creative Writing, “The Tradition, ” and Rkia Elaroui Cornell, professor of pedagogy in Middle Eastern and South Asian studies, “Rabi’a from Narrative to Myth: The Many Faces of Islam’s Most Famous Woman Saint, Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya”
- 2 p.m. – Mandy Suhr-Systma, lecturer in English, “Self-Determined Stories: The Indigenous Reinvention of Young Adult Literature,” and Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science and director, James Weldon Johnson Institute, “Race and the Obama Administration: Substance, Symbols and Hope”
- 3 p.m. – Nichole R. Phillips, associate professor, sociology of religion and culture, “Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism,” and Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of American History, “Atticus Finch: The Biography—Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon”
- 4 p.m. – Laura Otis, professor of English, “Banned Emotions: How Metaphors Can Shape What People Feel”
Alumni book signings
Saturday, Aug. 31
- 10 a.m. – Peter Adam Salomon 89C, “Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds,” and B.J. Winfrey 93C, “The Final Lesson (Everybody Wants to Rule the World Vol. 1)”
- 11 a.m. – David Darracott 73C, “Wasted”
- 12 p.m. – Chris Pepple 93T, “Looking, Seeing”; Kenneth H. Thomas Jr. 68C, “Fort Benning (Images of America: Georgia)”; and Anne Echols 75C 78G, “A Tale of Two Maidens: A Medieval French Story of Fate, Adventure, and the Hundred Years’ War”
- 2 p.m. – Nayera Salam 75G, “Woodland Fairies: Helping and Having Fun,” and Chi Chi Okezie 98Ox 00C, “Networking Made Simple: A Guide to Effective Networking”
- 4 p.m. – Sami Cone 96C, “Raising Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids,” and Ellen Griffith Spears 03G 06PhD, “Rethinking the American Environmental Movement Post-1945”
Sunday, Sept. 1
- 12 p.m. – Lori B. Duff 94L, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place”
- 2 p.m. – B.J. Winfrey 93C, “The Final Lesson (Everybody Wants to Rule the World Vol. 1),” Susan M. Hunter, “Southern Homes and Plan Books: The Architectural Legacy of Leila Ross Wilburn,” and Sami Cone 96C, “Raising Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids”
- 4 p.m. – Nayera Salam 75G, “Woodland Fairies: Helping and Having Fun,” and Deidre Ann deLaughter 80C, “Reawakening Rebekah: The Gift of the CLAMOR Girls”
In addition to hosting events and authors at its own tent, Emory also is sponsoring all sessions during the weekend that take place in the Decatur Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary.
Saturday, Aug. 31
- 10 a.m. – You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life, Presented by Candler School of Theology, Emory University (Erica Williams Simon)
- 11:15 a.m. – Portrait of an American Businessman: One Generation from Cotton Field to Boardroom (Carl Ware)
- 12:30 p.m. – Poetry Reading; PEN American Immigration Track (Richard Blanco and Natalie Scenters-Zapico)
- 1:45 p.m. – Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen, Presented by the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University (Mary Norris)
- 3 p.m. – Black Futures (Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew)
- 4:15 p.m. – One Person, No Vote (Carol Anderson)
- 5:30 p.m. – They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate (James Verini)
Sunday, Sept. 1
- 1:15 p.m. – She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Sponsored by HowStuffWorks (Carl Zimmer)
- 2:30 p.m. – Poetry Reading (Jericho Brown and Lauren K. Alleyne)
- 3:45 p.m. – Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration and a Road to Repair, Presented by Candler School of Theology, Emory University (Danielle Sered)
- 5 p.m. – Organized Crime, Murder and Mayhem Across a Century (Karen Abbot and Evan Ratliff)