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Presented in Partnership with Humanities Tennessee, Chapter 16 and Vanderbilt University Press
Readings and discussions take place in the Digital Learning Center at the Tennessee State Museum. All events include an opportunity to purchase books through the Museum store and get them signed by the author.
Our new book series begins with a reading by music journalist Marissa R. Moss of Her Country and a discussion with Jewly Hight, WNXP editorial director and NPR music reporter. Her Country is the story of the last twenty years of country music through the lens of Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Kacey Musgraves—their peers and inspirations, their paths to stardom, and their battles against a deeply embedded boys’ club, as well as their efforts to transform the genre into a more inclusive place for all. While admission is free and registration not required, we ask that you please Register below so we can get an accurate head count. Thanks!
Review: Her Country at Chapter16.org.
As part of our book series and Juneteenth programming, Leigh Ann Gardner reads from To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead: African American Lodges and Cemeteries in Tennessee, before joining Natalie Bell in discussion. Benevolent Orders, the Sons of Ham, Prince Hall Freemasons—these and other African American lodges created a social safety net for members across Tennessee. During their heyday between 1865 and 1930, these groups provided members with numerous resources, such as sick benefits and assurance of a proper burial, opportunities for socialization and leadership, and the chance to work with local churches and schools to create better communities. Many of these groups gradually faded from existence, but their legacy endures in the form of the cemeteries the lodges left behind. These Black cemeteries dot the Tennessee landscape, but few know their history or the societies of care they represent. To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead is the first book-length look at these cemeteries and the lodges that fostered them.
Interview: Leigh Ann Gardner discusses To Bury the Dead at Chapter16.org.
Australia advertise that they fry their chicken “Nashville-style.” Thousands of people attend the Music City Hot Chicken Festival each year. The James Beard Foundation has given Prince’s Chicken Shack an American Classic Award for inventing the dish. But for almost seventy years, hot chicken was made and sold primarily in Nashville’s Black neighborhoods—and the story of hot chicken says something powerful about race relations in Nashville, especially as the city tries to figure out what it will be in the future. Hot, Hot Chicken recounts the history of Nashville’s Black communities through the story of its hot chicken scene from the Civil War, when Nashville became a segregated city, through the tornado that ripped through North Nashville in March 2020.
Interview: Rachel Louise Martin discusses Hot, Hot Chicken at Chapter16.org
Before there were guidebooks, there were just guides—people in the community you could count on to show you around. I'll Take You There is written by and with the people who most intimately know Nashville, foregrounding the struggles and achievements of people's movements toward social justice. The colloquial use of "I'll take you there" has long been a response to the call of a stranger: for recommendations of safe passage through unfamiliar territory, a decent meal and place to lay one's head, or perhaps a watering hole or juke joint. In this book, more than one hundred Nashvillians "take us there," guiding us to places we might not otherwise encounter. Their collective entries bear witness to the ways that power has been used by social, political, and economic elites to tell or omit certain stories, while celebrating the power of counternarratives as a tool to resist injustice. Indeed, each entry is simultaneously a story about place, power, and the historic and ongoing struggle toward a more just city for all. The result is akin to the experience of asking for directions in an unfamiliar place and receiving a warm offer from a local to lead you on, accompanied by a tale or two.
Review: I'll Take You There at Chapter16.org
As part of our programming for our exhibition, Painting the Smokies: Art, Community, and the Making of a National Park, Zentner reads from his award-winning young adult novel, In the Wild Light. Life in small-town Tennessee has never been easy. Cash already lost his mother to an opioid addiction and is losing his papaw, who raised him, one labored breath at a time. But loss has led him to Delaney Doyle, and she’s been his salvation. The trouble is that canoeing on the river and hiking the East Tennessee mountains might be all he needs to fill his soul, but Delaney is meant for so much more. So when Delaney makes a scientific discovery that gets them both full rides at an elite boarding school in Connecticut, Cash has to make the tough decision to leave behind his place of the heart to support his person of the heart. Will the decision to go to Middleford Academy be the thing that finally breaks Cash, or will it be the making of him?
Review: In the Wild Light at Chapter16.org
Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. This is not the first time violence has altered the course of the family’s trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass—only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city. Joan tries to settle into her new life, but family secrets cast a longer shadow than any of them expected. Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.
Review: Memphis in Chapter16.org